The Wild Animal Sanctuary – Hudson, Colorado
Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character.
She is perched on the edge of her nest. Three owlets grow and burrow next to her: pushing her to the edge of her home, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She will wait patiently all day until dusk overtakes the sky, when she’ll silently fly in search of food for her little ones. All day she will sit, with only her eyes and head moving occasionally. She looks at me with one watchful eye, the other closed. Her ears tilt towards me and her babies’ heads bob up to see the commotion of parked car and toddler rustle. Through the binoculars I see myself foolishly through her sharp yet relaxed gaze. It is as if she is saying “What is this? Camera clicking and binoculars mediating, sunblock being smeared on child’s face?” She just watches me. Nothing between us. No lenses, no filters, no film on skin . She is not troubled to move, even slightly.
Long neck, chin drawn in, tall stature, still frame: she strikes me as being akin to a great meditator: drawing herself into one composed line, she sits quietly and observes, tending her babies with the perfect zen-like non-perturbed gaze of a realized master. In this tree top I see a reflection of how I would like to perch: still mother, resting patiently as my children learn to fly…
As many of you know, I recently participated in a book group exploring themes of ‘conscious parenting.’ What, you might ask, does this mean? There are so many solutions. So many methods. So many paths. So many books on the subject. A baseline from which to start: “Children must learn to live from a spiritual point of view…They must learn how to live ecstatically in the feeling of God (Divine Reality). Children should enjoy a feeling, breathing relationship with the Mystery.” – Adi Da
Below are several insights on my continual path of translating spiritual practice and intention into parenting a toddler. For me, conscious transcends ‘mindful,’ ‘thoughtful,’and ‘well-educated,’ into the realm of questioning how I can raise a being who is attuned to subtlety, interested in spiritual growth, not bound by the ceaseless churnings of ego – and ultimately interested in living a life of service rooted in the experience of love.
As parents we have the opportunity to help cultivate this capacity for a direct feeling-intuition of the Divine Reality under all circumstances. Whether you believe in a “God” or not, this is not the point. The point is to raise children who will become happy, sensitive, responsible, sane and caring adults. The point is to raise children who will not be addicted to suffering and selfishness, instead attracted to embody qualities of integrity and Grace.
The nuggets below were inspired by Adi Da’s books and serve as small portals for me in making daily parenting decisions.
We can begin by establishing and maintaining a sense of calmness, equanimity and sensitivity. And, most importantly, we must continually ask ourselves whether we are embodying the lessons we wish to impart. What does our state convey (more than our words)? What parents can transcend creates space for children too to transcend.