There are basic needs in life for all creatures. These are the essential ingredients that go into the making of a healthy being. In modern culture, these basic needs have been used against people to manipulate them to feel things they don’t feel and to want things they don’t want for the commercial greater good. Because this has been ongoing for over a century, it is beginning to cause long-standing repercussions, the most damaging of which is that people don’t know what their basic needs are anymore. And if they do, many don’t know how to fulfill them in healthy ways. We’re not talking about subsistence needs such as water, food, and shelter. Those still remain obvious to everyone. I’m speaking of the emotional/spiritual needs of a healthy person. The first of which is a sense of connection to something more than oneself, such as another person, family, animals, nature, friends, etc.
The connection I’m speaking of is also not in the sense of competition or trying to outdo or outshine the other to feel special, but to acquire an awareness of the spiritual/emotional connection, which is the most basic connection of life, of God-consciousness. Because people don’t know how to experience this connection for themselves, it’s passed down in allegories through religion and spiritual teachings: See everyone as your brother and sister. The problem with this is it reduces it to such a small element of what this connection is. Though, if all people were able to really grasp this, that would be something quite spectacular. This is the connection where there is no difference between you and me. What you feel, I feel. What you experience, if I’m in your field, I experience. This is the basic element of the depth of that kind of connection, which requires emotional and spiritual clarity. Not only to feel but to be able to identify accurately what it is that you’re feeling, and then to know how to integrate that in some useful way for greater understanding.
If humanity wishes for longevity, the battle that modern civilization faces is not the nuclear bomb and not the sprinkled mad man here and there, it is this greater malaise and illness of being disconnected from oneself and each other. If you were to teach your children one thing, this would be the one thing that would turn around the destiny of the world. This is why I place so much emphasis on clarity, on speaking the truth of your experiences in all ways that remind and teaches everyone that we are connected in this very, very basic and complete way.
Q: How do we teach children this concept?
More appropriately, the question should be: How do we unteach children? Children are born knowing and experiencing this, but it gets taught out of them at early ages, as I’ve said repeatedly, to fit within cultural agreements. The first step in allowing children to stay connected is to be careful not to deny their experience. When a child comes to you and expresses an emotion, don’t negate that by somehow saying or implying that’s not what they’re really feeling. Avoid comments like “that’s not what you really feel”; “big boys/girls don’t cry”; “don’t say that, that’s not nice”; “tell Johnny you’re sorry” (when the child is not sorry). When you give your children conflicting messages they know are lies, they will still comply because they wish to win your approval and love, but this teaches them to become disconnected. If you lie long enough, you begin believing the lie, or you forget what the original truth was to begin with.
So the first step is to have respect for your children’s feelings. Certainly, you may wish to find ways to channel or redirect some of their emotions to ways in which they can still get what they want, say what they want, express what they’re really feeling, but to do it in a socially acceptable way. One of the classic means by which we do this is to tell our children, as long as they say their “pleases” and “thank yous” and say it in a nice voice, they can get what they want. When please and thank you means nothing really, except as a marker to the rest of the world that we’ve taught our children to be polite and submissive.
Q: Can’t that also be teaching children to be appreciative?
No. That’s an entirely different process and experience. Saying “please” and “thank you” doesn’t teach children to be appreciative. It teaches children to say “please” and “thank you” to get what they want. If you wish to teach your children to have appreciation, hold conversations with them where you remark on things that you appreciate and why you appreciate them throughout the day, ask them about experiences that they might appreciate, share experiences of the day, talk about feelings of the day. This is what teaches appreciation. Too many people have come to mistake the facade of appreciation or politeness for appreciation itself.
Some of the challenge in staying connected is the way in which people are expected to communicate. Your culture doesn’t really allow people time to feel their own feelings. So much of it is to try to jump through hoop to hoop, to reinforce acceptance of each other during the course of conversation. If you wish to prove this to yourself, a simple test is to have a conversation with someone where you do not do what you would normally do. Leave out the mm hmms, and the head nodding, and the eye contact, and the other agreement making sounds and body positions, and just listen. See how long it takes the other person to ask if there’s something wrong, if you’re all right, if you’re mad at them, if you disagree with them, if you’re paying attention. Without the continual reassurance in these manners people have come to believe that you are not connected to what they’re saying. This is the façade of the connection and not the connection itself. All those agreement-making sounds and body positions are more likely to indicate the facade of deep listening or deep agreement, because so much energy goes into finding that appropriate moment to say mm hmm or nod your head, and so on.
Help your children by teaching them a more genuine form of communication. Begin stripping away these nonessential facades that actually interfere with connection. Reassure your children that by behaving in new and different ways from other people, this will not only get them where they want to go but will actually draw more people to them. Reassure them so they won’t fear rejection or not fitting in, by continually practicing this new level of awareness and connection with them.
Yes, most other people are unfamiliar with this kind of communication and will initially find it quite unnerving, but if you explain ahead of time how you are trying to communicate from now on, and then communicate in that way, they will come to find it refreshing and relaxing.
Before you begin trying to teach your children, it’s helpful to begin acquiring these skills for yourself. A simple exercise is to find a room with several people where you don’t need to be the focus of attention, or involved in conversation, and sit quietly. Select one person in the room and imagine yourself as a ball of light expanding until you encompass that person’s physical presence. Let that sensation settle into you and see what you feel. See if you get a sense of who this person really is, apart from the clothes they wear, the vocabulary they sport, the job title they identify themselves by. Beyond all of that, see if you can experience who the essential being is. If you practice consistently, this is also one of those qualities that within a very short amount of time will reward you with great progress and results.
Q: How would we know if we were really having that experience?
In the beginning, you wouldn’t know whether it was an accurate perception or not. All you would know is that you were having an experience. All you would know is that you were paying attention.
In trying to experience connection with another living being, there may be many side effects. It may make you feel deeply peaceful, or anxious and restless, or angry, or depressed, or wishing you could run out of the room to get away from the experience of intense intimacy not born out of sex or lust or some other misguided connection to intimacy. It may put you deeply in touch with your own feelings, of your own sense of loneliness and sadness, and feeling disconnected. Be forewarned that powerful emotions will come out of these experiences one way or the other. And that’s a beginning.
Don’t judge the emotion, don’t chase it away or rush in to analyze, but just let yourself experience the emotion. Eventually that will subside and another emotion will rise up. Let yourself experience that emotion. Eventually, it will not be an issue of whether you’ve made the connection or not. You will know instantaneously when you have. And you will know what you know from that connection.
This is not about reading someone else’s mind or turning yourself into the next great psychic. It’s not about intuition in that way at all. It’s about beingness. It’s about learning what the sensation feels like when all are one. When you experience that oneness, you experience everything and everyone else as yourself. It’s nothing more than a shared experience, a shared emotion, a shared understanding. Perhaps the sharing is one-sided in the beginning, because the other person most likely won’t know you’re doing this. This is not about becoming an intruder in someone else’s mind or heart. It is about becoming more whole.