From the very first day we are born (at least for most of us anyway) we are guided through life by someone else. Whether it is your parent, guardian or family member, Humans are programmed to follow their elders to learn the ropes in how to survive in the world. While this is a perfectly normal and acceptable part of human life, it can have negative connotations, especially as you grow older. You see, we are programmed to follow and learn essential skills from someone else, but we can come to rely on them to teach us everything about life. We can put the parents on a pedestal and look up to them as having the solution to all of life’s problems and therein lies another pitfall to the ever-elusive state of enlightenment. We have to realise that while parents and elders might have a wealth of experience in life (and significantly more than you) they are still just humans and are most likely going through the same regular ego-driven motions. If we come to idolise them in having a solution to everything instead of looking at them for who they really are, we will simply become lost again. I am not saying they will not be able to teach you many things about how to live your life, i’m sure they will. What I am saying is that when it comes to inner peace, almost everyone is in the same boat. Life experience can never be a definitive measure for someone’s state of awareness.
Of the very, very few enlightened people in the world, what are the chances that one of them will be your father or mother or older brother? Buddha had a biological son, but it is said he always made a distinction between his biological son and his spiritual sons ‘bodhisattvas’- people seeking enlightenment. Before he left the palace, one story says that Buddha refers to his son as ‘Rahula’ which means ‘impediment’ as in an impediment to enlightenment. This does not mean that Buddha did not love his son by any account, it just meant that with more familial ties Buddha might have found it harder to find a state of true detachment. It is said that Buddha put importance on learning the ways of Buddhahood instead of teaching him the ways of ruling the kingdom that he was entitled to inherit.
Here is a quote from Osho on family, which as usual summarises what I wish to express beautifully:
“The trouble with the family is that children grow out of childhood, but parents never grow out of their parenthood! Man has not even yet learned that parenthood is not something that you have to cling to it forever. When the child is a grown-up person your parenthood is finished. The child needed it – he was helpless. He needed the mother, the father, their protection; but when the child can stand on his own, the parents have to learn how to withdraw from the life of the child. And because parents never withdraw from the life of the child they remain a constant anxiety to themselves and to the children. They destroy, they create guilt; they don’t help beyond a certain limit.
To be a parent is a great art. To give birth to children is nothing – any animal can do it; it is a natural, biological, instinctive process. To give birth to a child is nothing great, it is nothing special; it is very ordinary. But to be a parent is something extraordinary; very few people are really capable of being parents.” -Osho
Both the parent and the child must recognise and understand their biological place in life, lest this precious relationship impede you on your path.