“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” So said the Persian poet and mystic Kahlil Gibran in his book The Prophet.
When I first read the above words as a teenager I was so happy, suddenly I was free. For the first time in my life I was given the answer to what I had always felt, that I did not belong to my parents and they did not own me. It was all I needed as I was soon to step out into the world as an independent being. In a sense I was discovering that we are all orphans, all adopted, with no real personal connection or background in this world, as the real work of our lives lies elsewhere, and that is what I discuss in this blog.
We are all born into this world and this life to work on our karmic issues, to resolve what we have not yet resolved through our many lives. Life itself gives us everything we need in order to do this. For those who have children of their own this idea can be both challenging and consoling. But for all of us, it means that we are all here, in Earth School, for our own karmic reasons.
We all come as infants, we all grow up and experience life, and we all leave when we die. That is the shared journey we all take, though the details of our individual lives vary greatly. What is left behind when we leave is the essence of who we were, the energy we expended during our lifetime, positive and negative, effecting the Earth and the energy of this world. In addition, if we have not fully resolved our karmic issues, the residue of those issues remain with us to be taken up again in a new life.
So, if we are all here for personal karmic reasons, we are all here for the same purpose. Can we find a way to accept all beings, just as we too wish to be accepted? Can we let go of attachment to and judgment of others and let them work on their karmic issues while we too work on ours? Can we do these things with compassion? These are some of our challenges as we live our lives, as we raise our children, as we care for our pets (for they too are connected to us for their own karmic reasons), as we struggle to make sense of who we are and why we are here.
Just what kinds of karmic issues do we face? That’s a good question, and it’s one that deserves our attention. It’s a far better question to ponder than the “why me” question, or the “how come I didn’t get” complaint, or the “poor me” mantra. If we are to really evolve it’s time for us to take on our personal issues with a little deliberateness, to get beyond thinking that our lives are sad and meaningless, or that we only live once and then we die, and focus on our karmic challenges because, really, our eternal life depends on it, as does the eternal life of the planet.
Parents are confronted not only with allowing themselves to take their own karmic journeys but to let their children do the same. Every child is here to work out their personal karma and each parent is here to do the same. Remember: we were all children once too. No one is the cause of, or responsible for, anyone else’s karma. We are not responsible for setting up the conditions of anyone else’s karma either, though we are all players in each others’ cosmic dance and drama as we live out our lives together.
Eliminating the guilt for being a bad parent may be the parent’s karma, but the parent is still not responsible for the child’s karma. The parent has only helped deliver the child to their own karma. The parent must let the child go at the appropriate age for them to discover and work out their own karmic issues. The parent is then freed to work out their own. Whether an actual parent or not in this lifetime, all of these issues nonetheless apply to all the people who dance with us throughout our lives.
Gibran offers further advice as we undergo this karmic/cosmic dance. He says this of our children: “You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
We know the road is rough, for we too are traveling along it, day by day, attempting to remain focused on the imperative of our own spirit. No matter how cleared we think we have become there will always be a new challenge to tease and test us. As we advance we make decisions in how and where we wish to use our energy, whether to save our energy for our inner work or to continue to challenge ourselves with the enticements of this world. It’s always a choice.
Our true personal karmic journey is really a lesson in learning that we are not that important, that there is something far beyond this life and our human self on this planet that we are here to discover and reconnect with. Completion of our karmic issue involves fully living out our lives in this world—fully experiencing everything that life has to offer, so that we are in a position to leave it without attachment—learning what it means to lose our self-importance in the process. When we’ve done that we’re ready to graduate from Earth School!
In actually doing the work of our personal karmic issues we become naturally more compassionate toward others, toward the struggles we see them caught in, for the behaviors we see repeated, for the unawakened spirits that we all come into this realm as. We naturally see ourselves mirrored in the struggles of others.
As compassionate beings, we learn that we cannot change another being or make them take another road than the one they’ve karmically chosen, that everyone must take the journey they are on. Even as we have had to wake up to our karmic journey, so is the challenge the same for everyone. We are not present in other’s lives to alleviate, travel another’s path, or change the journey that must be faced, but to travel our own path and support when support is appropriate or warranted. Sometimes such support is the decision to give no support at all, to totally withdraw because our support only offers a detrimental crutch.
Sometimes we may wish to offer advice but are soundly rejected, and that is a sign to step back and wait. As people face their issues, clarity will come. We simply have to look at ourselves, at our own journeys to know that many days we too could not face our issues, could not accept advice, could not get beyond our self-pity, could not forgive or get beyond our own resentment. We remember that our maturity has taken time, continues to be challenging, and that we are still learning too.
As parents must send their children off onto their own journeys, so must we all send ourselves on our own. As Gibran says in one of the final stanzas of his poem On Children: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” We have all been launched into this world to take our karmic journeys, and we all have the potential to go far. The path before us all is the path to eternal, conscious life in infinity.
We are all beings on journeys of karmic encounter, with the possibility to wake up and change at any time. Perhaps the challenge will begin in this lifetime. Or perhaps it will be in another. Keep in mind, however, that each life is an advancement along the karmic route. Everyone, in each lifetime, evolves another step along the road, and the planet evolves a little bit more too!
Taking the changing journey,