Family Healing and Community Building
by Finding your Light Within
How Gnosis (Our Knowledge of God) helps Children Grow Happy and Healthy
Q. Ali, you mention in your writings that healthy ego development is necessary for the eventual understanding and realization of 'no-separation; i.e. unity'. As a parent, how do we allow for healthy ego development, particularly in the teen years, while at the same time provide our kids with an Islamic orientation that in fact, there is no separation... i.e. how do we avoid confusing the hell out of them??
R. This is a question of responsibility.
There are two kinds of responsibility, real and assumed. By assumed I mean "taken on under the presumption that it's the 'right' thing to do". To 'assume' responsibility is a different meaning of the word from to 'assume' that something is true.
I often make the distinction between singular and plural. If we focus on our primary responsibility (singular) the 'other', more secondary responsibilities (plural) will be clear.
If we have not done our "homework" ™ :-), and have not yet learned about our primary responsibility, what it is and how to fulfill it, we will distract ourselves from that negligence (fill it) by substituting our secondary responsibilities, and making a big deal out of our focus on them.
It is often asked, and we have gone over this several times before, how the fulfilling of our primary responsibility takes care of our lives and all the other 'responsibilities' we have. Well, it doesn't, but Allah does. We do not need to 'focus' on the outward to 'be' in the outward, we already are and all things are done by Allah.
Allah only asks us to pay attention to Him, to 'Know' Him. But when we do neither that nor focus on learning how to do that, we then make myriad excuses for our failure and call them responsibilities, expecting them to be accepted by like minded people as reasonable when in reality they are simply distractions and signs of failure attempting to pose as success to cover over the failure. Qur`an says of this "mankind is in a state of loss (illusion), except those who believe and do right work. "illa-ladhina `amanu wa `amilu salihat". Here He puts Iman (faith, trust and knowing) before the doing of righteous deeds.
Raising children is yes a great responsibility, but in the paradigm of it not being the primary responsibility it becomes easier. If we fulfill our primary responsibility to know and trust God we will be fulfilling our primary responsibility to our children not only by example but by teaching, because they will then learn how to do it also, and also learn that in comparison nothing else really matters.
When children realize that nothing else really matters, they become happy and cheerful, and all things 'other' become as play to them. When they can approach the 'other' things in life as play, their chances of success will be greater because there will be no dependence on outcome. Not only will they know what to do in all situations and how to handle or deal with all problems, but they will have zero performance anxiety because they will know that they already please God and their parents and are not at all dependent upon 'success' for love.
No dependence = no attachment to success. No attachment to success = no fear of failure, because in the reality of homework it doesn't matter. No fear of failure = no performance anxiety, and no performance anxiety = the greater chance of success. The greater the chance of success, the more enthusiasm and foresight will be put into the project, increasing even to the point of guaranteeing the chance of success. And so it goes. And all that from the fulfillment of the primary responsibility to know and love God.
And imagine - we only need to focus on learning how to do that because our parents neither knew it nor taught it to us. So if we do it now by accomplishing it and staying focused in it and teaching it by example to our children, how much easier our children's lives will be. Imagine how that - the more it is done by the more people - will effect and increase the beauty and peace of the world we live in. Only this will bring about the ultimate harmony that is our eventual destiny.