How can we bring awareness into parental relationships?

Normal waking consciousness, dream states, emotional states, and other states of awareness are different realities, somewhat like channels of the TV receiver.

As you walk down the street you can tune your “receiver” into the world on any number of channels. Each way of tuning creates a very different street, but the street doesn’t change; you do.

You see what you look for. If you are primarily preoccupied or tuned to the physical body, as you look at people you see them as man or woman, fat or thin, tall or short, attractive or unattractive. When you are busy looking at personalities you might see them as introverted or extroverted, hysterical or paranoid, happy or sad. If you were tuned to the astral identities you’d see a Leo or a Taurus, an angel or a demon. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

Christ could walk up to you and you might see him as a pleasant carpenter, dressed plainly. You might think: interesting teacher, he has a nice vibe. If you were looking beyond that, you might see Him as Living Spirit.

Meditative awareness is a vantage point from which you can focus on any event from various levels of reality.

Take, for example, your relationship with your parents, spouse, or children. Most relationships are very reactive. Your parent comes along and says something to which you immediately react and the parent in turn reacts to you. These are habitual reactions, in which nobody really listens; there is merely a mechanical run-off between people.

If you are rooted quietly in your awareness, there is space. In the moment, after your mother or father speaks to you, you see the reaction you would usually make. You also see the situation in a variety of other ways. You might see that your parent is in fact your parent only in this incarnation; from another level, like you, your parent is just another soul running off karma, living out the results of his or her past actions. You are part of each other’s karma. To appreciate this allows you to understand your dialogue in terms of cause and effect. Or you might understand it from other vantage points: in Freudian terms or as a power struggle, or as a symptom of the generation gap, or perhaps your parent simply has a stomach ache. Or you might see this dialogue as God talking to God.

Every event in your life is incredibly significant on level upon level upon level.

Were you to attempt to think of each of these levels at the moment someone says something, you would be swamped by an overwhelming number of thoughts. Meditative awareness is not one of intellectual analysis, nor one of labeling different “takes” on reality. It allows all ways of seeing to exist in the space surrounding an event.

Meditative awareness has a clarity that lays bare both the workings of your mind and the other forces at work in a situation. This clarity allows you to see the factors that determine your choices from moment to moment. Yet you don’t have to think about it to grasp all this. You find that you know, you understand. In this inner stillness and clarity you are fully aware of the entire gestalt, the whole picture. With no effort your response is optimal on all levels, not just mechanically reactive on one. The response is in tune, harmonious in the flow.


– Ram Dass

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