From the moment we start regular meditation, the seeds of our fragments rise seeking integration. As we move inside with any serious intention then it is natural for this integration process to start, for the seeds to rise up, for that which we have repressed to seek expression. This process is beneficial and meditation elders need to be aware of this. In this chapter I will be looking at ways these fragments might have been formed and techniques to help the seeds rise, express themselves and integrate helping us to follow our paths.
Fragmentation can occur in many ways but mostly during childhood. These fragments are associated with trauma but please don’t criticise parents for this trauma. This trauma may come from parenting but it can also come from the process of upbringing itself. In that upbringing new children are conditioned to fit into society. And for some that process can be traumatic. For most people we have lost understanding of this conditioning process. As babies we are born with survival instinct. This instinct works with conditioning loving our parents, learning as we grow until as mature adults we let go of this conditioning and begin to follow our paths. Unfortunately in our society there is so little emphasis on this maturing process, and many adults remain in a state of conditioning all their lives. New-born babies fear this possibility of not following their path, and this possibility can lead to fragmentation. Whilst fragmenting in adults means lack of integration and is therefore a restriction in following the path, the forming of fragments in children is not necessarily a negative process. The forming of fragments could be a protection in the child as a means of surviving childhood, in some homes how can children express love? We observe that fragmentation happens, we judge this process in a critical way but such a judgemental approach is not necessarily useful. As I will go into later when I view the fragmentation in my own childhood discussed mostly in the Treatise, I see it as a benefit in my childhood, and because of the way my upheaval happened I was able to be unconsciously integrated from the early age of 23 – very lucky.
“Fragmentation - the world disease” is the title of a Teal Swan vid, and she deals with the completion process which includes meditation on fragmentation and integration. Elsewhere she talks of spiritual bypassing as do others, a process in which meditation is not “complete” and meditators jump to a higher state without having done the “groundwork” thus leaving themselves open to imbalance – Teal suggests it is this imbalance that has led to some of the defiled practices amongst some public teachers.
For me this is not an issue with the Buddha’s teachings as he discusses a complete process of meditation in the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness (Sattipatthana sutta MN 10 and elsewhere). I agree with Teal and others that spiritual bypassing is happening, but in terms of Buddhism the problem is the teaching methodology and not the theory (the suttas). How can something as personal as fragments be dealt with by a monk giving a talk on a stage. Becoming a monk, joining a community can provide the support necessary but it is not likely that a meditation course without personal feedback can.
Zandtaomed recognises and pays special attention to fragmentation and the process of integrating fragments. Later we will discuss techniques that help with fragments by encouraging them to rise, then let go and integrate, but to begin with an elder needs to be aware of the possibility of fragments arising. How I used these techniques together with my life experience as described in the Treatise and Manual provide the basis for my teaching approach here in the Companion. Particularly you might want to look at Ch 10 on Integrating in the Manual. My advice improves as I work with students.
Here is a brief description of the integrating processes I went through to deal with my fragments. The first process was unconscious but I must note it here so that integrating fragments can be given a context. When I was 23 I went through an upheaval, a personal breakdown, that started me on the path. From that point on because I was immature I began what I call a second childhood before cementing my path with the study of Buddhism. I see this upheaval as an unconscious release of fragments. As a child I was immature and repressed – not at all conscious of life, of path. With the upheaval came a huge release as in some way I had found myself, I had found my path. Unconsciously I had released fragments that had blocked my personal growth without the conscious intention of that release – not all fragments were released but I felt like a new person. What is most important for me to point out is that I was following the path, however limited my path was. With the path as my guide I was able to cope with any fragmentation, and it is this path that has kept me more or less centred throughout my life.
The path is why I see pathtivism – active engagement based on path – as a way forward for all. Authenticity. Dhamma.
Because of my immaturity even when following the path I was always learning – second childhood. Apart from the initial upheaval my first noticeable encounter with releasing shadow came in my mid-40s. In my mid-30s I fell in love. It was a deeply painful time, and to cope I internalised much of the hurt – forming a shadow, a fragment. Whilst my life continued to move forward, this shadow was ever-present although I wasn’t particularly conscious of it. By this time, mid-40s, I had left repressive UK life, and was enjoying the freedom of living in Southern Africa. My life was teaching and travelling around Southern Africa. I had begun a process of mid-life review, some recorded here. I was doing an M ED where I was reflecting on my teaching life so far, and this led me into spiritual practices bringing me closer to the path again.
After 20 years of second childhood with emphasis on the outer, I was balancing by looking in. I was staying in a bungalow in a campsite in Nyanga Zimbabwe, a shadow rose and I was able to deal with it. I have discussed this in Ch10 of the Manual. But I should also point to a teacher who greatly helped me understand shadow, fragments and inner parents – Teal Swan; listen to her many videos on this integration work especially with regards to emotions and memories (vedana and sanna).
I will discuss other techniques but there is a final technique that can help remove fragments and that is Thay's technique of "Listening to the Wounded Child". He has discussed this in his book "Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child". For complete integration this is an important additional step after reconciling the inner parents – discussed later. But I feel that students using this technique need protection - "We invite the sadness, despair, regrets, longings that in the past have been difficult for us to touch, and we sit down and talk with them like old friends. But before we invite them up, we must be sure that the lamp of our mindfulness is lit and that its light is steady and strong," [p86 of 269].
By the end of this integration work on shadows and fragments that happens naturally during MwB, sanna is not filled with these contents (as shadows and fragments) – sanna-vinnana is discussed here. Once integrated then the memory can be accessed with minimal vinnana, because the memory is not filled with contents or attachments that prevent access.
As already said, handling fragmentation during meditation is an important part of the integration in the 4 tetrads, and can start early when we begin conditioning kaya releasing trapped fragments. But in this chapter I will look at techniques that can be used in meditation to integrate fragments, these techniques can be used by the elder when s/he sees the fragment rising. And the first technique I will look at is Nyanga – integrating shadows.
Nyanga – integrating shadows
At the time I used this technique I was not calling it shadow work but I knew I had a problem with internalising emotion. Several years earlier I had been through a difficult relationship, and staying in this Nyanga campsite I had been building up to facing this. Based on some reading, I cannot remember what, I knew that there was internalised emotion, and I knew I had to find it. As I lay in the bungalow I knew that sleep wasn’t going to come. I began looking inside, my inner eye moving down to my stomach. As soon as I reached in there, I felt a huge emotional surge for my lover, and then followed all the pain of the relationship that I relived that night; it was as if it was stored there waiting to be released through reliving. And I did relive it, it was both powerful and draining; eventually I got some sleep. I should note that I had some emotional release concerning parents but that was not powerful. I woke the next day with minimal sleep and felt greatly released. At the time I saw it as internalisation, now I will call it a shadow fragment. I was unable to cope with facing the emotion of the relationship ending at the time, so it became a fragmented shadow that I released at Nyanga. I tried this process of releasing shadow several times after, there wasn’t the power there but they were all helpful.
I had the confidence to be able to cope with releasing the shadow on my own but it was very powerful. If your elder is near you, perhaps you could have your first Nyanga with her/him. If not you might choose a trusted friend to be with you; seek help if necessary. For Nyangas I prefer to be lieing down on my bed – as opposed to sitting in meditation. I often choose the foetal position but be sure you do not sleep. For me it was as if the emotion was being physically stored within the abdominal area and I had to simply physically find it with my mind’s eye. As the mind touched it I experienced the emotion, and when the emotion played out I went back looking for more – and I found it. This went on for a long time, finding emotion, releasing it, letting it play out and looking for more, until I knew that I had emptied my abdominal area of the relationship. I remember touching on parental issues but it didn’t feel right to get into them. I searched the rest of my body esp knees, and found a few vestiges but nothing that powerful. Once I started the Nyanga process there was something in me that wanted to keep going until it was all released; maybe the shadow was blocking my path?
This shadow technique was the first conscious technique I used to release emotion – remember my upheaval was very much unconscious. Although I used the Nyanga technique to good effect on a number of occasions later in life, the next real release came in the Summer of 2019 and this was much more comprehensive – I called it My Centring Summer.
I began this Summer release by going through the technique I have called chakras by the bootstraps – described fully in Ch 9 of the manual. This process of chakras by the bootstraps was an excellent balancing process and I recommend it for that balance. But it was not integrating fragments so I am only mentioning it in this chapter of the Companion, your elder might recommend this chakra work.
The next process for integrating fragments was Embracing the MAWP.
Embracing the MAWP with Five Earth Touchings
For white men this technique of embracing the MAWP will be painful, even the term MAWP – Male Arrogant White and Privileged – is painful, and will make many white men turn off in denial. But this is not an attack on white men, it is an explanation that is meant to help. If white men can embrace the fragment that shows in denial, they will become more integrated and will end the isolation many such men feel. When I use the technique “embracing the MAWP” this is typical of spiritual approaches in which we examine what is buried, embrace the “pain” and let it go. There is a pain of isolation for white men, this technique will embrace that pain and let it go.
But let me stress again that this isolation and pain is conditioned. It is conditioned naturally by instinct to create egos, but this has been exacerbated through conditioning by heavy financial investment to increase the sense of isolation white men feel. As people examine the history of capitalism with its patriarchy and racism, they recognise the privilege and appoint blame. This blame becomes isolation and pain leading to the enclave mentality if it is not integrated; there is not isolation and pain if the MAWP is genuinely integrated.
On my upheaval this MAWP from upbringing is one of the first things I threw into the minor fragment of shadow, that new shadow I created on upheaval where I separated that aspect of childhood whose values were not accepted post-upheaval. Quite clearly any white male who is attempting to be authentic does not want to be sexist or racist so it becomes something that cannot be accepted – that is shadow. But that does not mean it does not exist, the shadow ego of sexism and racism is there. Embracing the MAWP is a technique that can integrate this shadow, for me such completeness needed to occur – as with all shadows.
What is worse is that liberal society through PC-authoritarian censorship has also created a racist and sexist shadow, and with the Dark Money Network investment in the internet this shadow has become exposed. Whilst there were always extremists (white supremacists), until recently mainstream views appeared not to accept such views. In the electoral 1%-satrapy, both parties previously would not accept racist or sexist behaviour but that has changed with the investment. Now the more right-wing of the two parties will have candidates who are making openly racist and sexist comments. And their supporters are making similar whilst often denying that they are either racist or sexist. Despite what appeared as improvements over my lifetime in attitudes to both race and gender, what the last 10 years has shown is that this change was marginalised in the shadow.
How this has happened angers me. Back in the 60s and 70s racist language was acceptable in society. Comedians on the TV made racist and sexist jokes, and use of racist terminology such as “nigger” was common-place amongst white people. Anti-racists in their training called for a two-pronged approach to this, censor the language because it was so offensive and educate people as to why racism and sexism were so unacceptable. Unfortunately both prongs did not happen. There were two approaches to change. The first is what might be termed revolutionary as in the type of revolutionary feminism bell hooks advocated, or similarly the revolutionary work of anti-racist training that recognised that racism was part of the wider problem of the imperialist system of the 1%-satrapy. The second might be called reformist where it was contended that reforms within the 1%-satrapy could work; there was both reformism in the feminist movement and reformism in the race equality movement. Over the years liberals had more and more impact on society culminating in a strong liberal presence under Obama and Blair. What happened with this liberal presence was the censorship of the PC-authoritarianism in which it became acceptable to hold sexist and racist views so long as they were not expressed. These views were marginalised in society’s shadow, and has been easily manipulated by the Dark Money Network into the highly-divisive societies of Trump’s US, Brexit’s (Bojo’s) UK and Scomo’s AUS. The rise of the right within the western countries of the 1%-satrapy is hard to watch, what could have been argued as ignorance of racism and sexism in the 60s and 70s has been replaced by a “consciously-aware” racist and sexist approach of many on the right now – not just the extremists. This is the danger of shadow because what was repressed for 20 or 30 years will take a long time to repair. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the 1% who are reaping benefits under this move to the right but at the same time people needed to have been more aware and conscious of the dangers of censorship – of creating shadow.
What are the implications of this for the individual? Repressing the MAWP was socially acceptable so marginalising the MAWP of our upbringing would have been perfectly agreeable. But of course it is not, as has been evidenced by a significant proportion of society’s ready acceptance of racism and sexism in the last decade. The shadow had not been integrated, the MAWP had not been integrated.
For the MAWP it is acceptable to say something is not racist or sexist even if there are women or people of different races saying it is. Isn’t that Arrogant? But it is no good just accepting that you are wrong because you are criticised. You have to know why you are wrong. You have to know why being White and Male has its Privileges, and that means examining the advantages or not that the MAWP has. What advantages have you had?
You need to examine your emotions as they arise, and not the emotions that you are prepared to show. Are you frightened when you walk round the corner and see a big black man? How do you react if your daughter brings home a black partner? Do you accept it? Do you rationalise non-acceptance by the difficulties that can be had by mixed-race couples? There are many such emotions that first arise that we are not comfortable with but self-censorship marginalises them in shadow and we give a PC performance. We need to embrace the shadow, learn to understand where the MAWP comes from so that we can embrace the MAWP as part of our conditioning but not who we are authentically. For me compassion is key to this, a deep authentic compassion that goes far deeper than a liberal caring or a liberal correct attitude. But you must work on it for yourself.
I learnt to be anti-racist through compassion and listening to black people but this process is not “ask a black friend”. Authentic compassion carries with it an air that can be recognised but “embracing the MAWP” is work you must do – not something to be done at parties when you’re bored and want to be seen talking with black people. The key is to listen. So many times you will hear radical black people or radical feminists saying something that sounds unfair to you. The MAWP says they are wrong, integration reflects on what is being said and determines the truth of what is being said and why it is being said. It is not always easy not to react because the MAWP conditioning is so deeply ingrained, but until you have confidence in your compassionate understanding it is necessary for you to control your reaction, reflect deeply on the question, and only then if you still have doubts question. Do not repress the reaction because then you don’t learn; control, reflect and if unsure enquire - repressing is shadow.
Not all white men are MAWPs but all white men are subject to MAWP conditioning through upbringing – education and community. White men should be proud (in a humble way?) if they have managed to overcome this conditioning, but as always we need to be aware that conditioning is an ongoing process – and there is a liberal conditioning that we are subject to as well. The path goes beyond conditioning, and it is for all people to use their path to assess their own conditioning and let go of egos.
I have some sympathy for these white man living in denial, the white man who has been fragmented by conditioning, as this white man has been subject to greatly increased conditioning – leading to human downgrading. With this huge increase in Dark Money the radical right has been promoted and this has led to the elections of the puppets Trump, Bojo and Scomo. These puppets as part of the 1%-satrapy promote the interests of the 1%, and we are seeing an increase in resource exploitation, climate denial, etc; the denial of these white men is conditioned instinctively and societally, the cause of the societal conditioning being motivated by the profiteering of the 1%. At the same time there has been an increase in investment in identity politics, this is not as the right would say (Soros) investment in the left but investment in the identity politics that has as a target white men. Identity politics isolates white men, the denial of many white men then enclave and vote for the puppets. It is not “right vs left” investment but investment that leads to the voting in of the 1%-puppets – it is the same strategy. It is a strategy that divides the 99%.
This investment works through creating human downgrading. These white men isolate themselves, condone each other’s behaviour, feel threatened by the strategy that isolates them, their isolation increases white man denial, and they vote in the people who they think will help protect them – they vote for white men also in denial but puppets who are there because the 1% want them to be.
I am not condoning the behaviour of the human downgraded, I condemn it. When there is violence against women I condemn it. When there is racism I condemn it. This is not acceptable behaviour but identity politics says white men do this and this leads to blaming white men. This leads to the denial of white men, it leads to their enclaves and it leads to the voting-in of right-wing puppets. Condemning the behaviour of these white men has therefore become part of the conditioning of white men. If we continue to attack white men there can only be an increase of the isolated response, an increase in denial, and a worsening of the exploitation by the 1%.
But there has to be more than the condemnation of the poor behaviour, the criticism of white men and their behaviour. When we look at this MAWP conditioning we try not to see blame but we try to look at a process of awareness so that we can help people integrate and become whole and authentic. We could continue to attack these men for their conditioned characteristics or we can try to help them end their denial, integrate this fragment and let go of their conditioned egos.
Now the first part of embracing the MAWP has to be awareness or re-education. The target of this awareness is the denial of many white man. Amongst MAWPs there is an arrogance – I am white and proud, we live in a world run by white men (mostly), they say. But this pride ignores the hurt in this world, it denies that racism, sexism, poverty and destruction of the planet are consequences of the political system (1%-satrapy) that they vote in. They are proud of their work ethic, the homes they purchase, and the way they look after their families. But they deny the global consequences of hurt that their pride brings. Embracing the MAWP asks them to accept pride in their achievements but also to become aware of the consequences of their actions. I can be proud of my achievements but also be proud of my fight for compassion in race gender and redistribution of wealth whilst being conscious of the need to protect Mother Earth.
History is a good way of understanding what is happening, not the rewritten history that is presented in our “education institutions” but genuine histories of the world. These would include How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney, Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galleano, A History of the United States by Howard Zinn, and the movie Harvest of Empire. Here is my own history but it is much better that you find the history for yourself. When we look at history we are looking at ancestry. Whilst our family ancestors might not be historic players they did participate in the system whether by force or acceptance. This compromise has led to the position of privilege today. If you have time investigate history, listen to different perspectives of history, how Africans experienced contact with white people, how Latin peoples experienced contact with white people, how indigenous peoples experienced contact with white people. But your history is not their history, you have your ancestry, try to find a balance in which you can harmonise your own view of history with theirs. How does this history feel in terms of being in harmony with Mother Earth? Be open to others, recognise your conditioned denial, and write your own history.
This awareness stage of embracing the MAWP can be distressing. From our schools we learn one view of white people in society but then find through awareness that this view is completely distorted, and that “white” society and “white” history have caused hurt. This will create guilt, a guilt that will be heaped upon by many liberals in identity politics. But guilt is not constructive unless we see where it is coming from, guilt is a response to conditioned behaviour and once we move beyond conditioning there is no place for guilt only right action.
What we have to understand about conditioning is that it is a natural process as discussed in addiction in the Treatise. From birth our conditioning starts as a need for survival. Out of fear we desire the protection of our parents, and as we get older that protection leads to an upbringing that involves education. This leads to the conditioning of egos that includes the MAWP being discussed here. Conditioning is not however limited to this natural process because the 1% have recognised the power of conditioning and have invested heavily in aspects of this conditioning for their own benefits.
What is not understood by most is that the natural process of conditioning is intended to fall away as we get into adulthood. Through maturity we follow our paths, become true to ourselves – authentic, and let go of the egos formed by conditioning. This letting go leads to following the path I have described throughout the Pathtivist trilogy:-
In embracing the MAWP I am discussing one strategy for following your path for white men. Through awareness these men can learn to overcome their conditioning, overcome the human downgrading they have been encouraged to follow, and learn to live in harmony rather than in the isolation so many inhabit now.
But perhaps the biggest denial of these men is Gaia-consciousness – living in harmony with Mother Earth; sadly there are far more than these men who are not living in harmony. In the Manual I have described “Being Dispossessed” as a consequence of my ancestry, and I personally have accepted being #Indigenousled in line with these pathtivist strategies:-
As part of embracing the MAWP white men need to recognise the importance of being in harmony with Mother Earth. Climate Denial funded by Koch industries is a particular part of the denial of these men, and it is clearly harmful as it is leading to the destruction of the planet. Again this is difficult for these men to accept, and we need to help them do this.
One suggestion was sending metta. What we have to do is stop the attacks on these white men, recognise they are subject to heavily-financed conditioning, and try to help them move beyond their conditioning by following their paths. Sending metta is a start. The more these men can develop metta, the more their hearts can open up to the defilements in this world, and help them end the system that creates such a defiled world by changing their voting patterns amongst others. Metta to White Men.
We can also look at the “Five Earth Touchings” as they apply to white men. Please find Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on the 5 Earth Touchings in this appendix; here are the touchings:-
1. In gratitude, I bow to all generations of ancestors in my blood family.
2. In gratitude, I bow to all generations of ancestors in my spiritual family.
3. In gratitude, I bow to this land and all of the ancestors who made it available.
4. In gratitude and compassion, I bow down and transmit my energy to those I love.
5. In understanding and compassion, I bow down to reconcile myself with all those who have made me suffer.
When we have embraced the MAWP these touchings take on a new meaning. We know how our ancestors have been conditioned into being part of exploitation, we still bow to them. We recognise that we are part of a wider loving spiritual family that we have a duty and responsibility towards. We recognise that we must honour Mother Earth, and help redress the destruction our system has created. We recognise that to make the changes we must love and end the denial that is part of our conditioning. We recognise that we are suffering in isolation and let go of our own suffering and help others who have suffered and who are causing suffering. In this way the 5 Earth Touchings can help us embrace our MAWPS and harmonise our lives ending the isolation our denial and conditioning is causing.
As part of embracing the MAWP I ask all white people to do the 5 earth touchings. Notice that the earth touchings do not have identity, they are concerned with Mother Earth, love, gratitude, compassion and your ancestors. These touchings do not ask white men to accept guilt, their focus is on touching the earth and accepting ancestry. There is no identity to these touchings. We are all part of Mother Earth.
Integrating the father-ego and the mother-ego
There is a spiritual law that we choose the parents we are born to. I don’t know how the choice is made but there are important consequences to this choice. At the same time psychologists say something to the effect that a significant proportion of our selves is formed within the first five years. Whilst psychology and spirituality are very different this quote indicates support for my spiritual contention. “Data compiled by the Rauch Foundation found that 85 percent of a person’s brain is developed by the time they are five years old! As a result, the first five years of life are critical to healthy early childhood development.” [here].
People’s memories of childhood differ vastly. My own memory is very limited, because of what I describe as a repressive upbringing that led to a deep fragmentation. When I am talking of father-ego and mother-ego I am not talking of their particular egos in real life, I am talking of what we recall of them; we cannot properly recall what happened to us in those early years although reconciliation with the inner child can give us a strong understanding. It is not easy to grow up in this world no matter how caring our parents might be. When I describe my upbringing as repressive, I am not necessarily describing an upbringing that is vastly different to the post-war education-oriented UK middle-classes; in other words the repression I am describing should not be seen as a criticism of my parents. Repression was a societal outlook and not necessarily concerned with the actions or not of my own parents – I am not prepared to discuss their particular actions. I am happy to call this type of upbringing traumatic, not the trauma of abuse, but traumatic in terms of not being authentic and self-expression. Our upbringing and education is there to enable us to fit into society. How many people are willing to say that the way they live in society is authentic? How many are expressing their true selves?
Before I go further, examining in any depth our memories of interactions with our parents can be deeply traumatic and cause great distress. If you are concerned about the possibility of such distress please make sure that you conduct this process in the presence of someone you trust.
What I mean by the father-ego is the collection of thoughts, memories and emotions you have concerning your father. It might become biographical but it is not meant as a biography. It is best to write down what you think of the way your father brought you up, actions you remember, what you remember of his character etc. The point about this process is not for you to give an accurate biopic of who your father is/was, but to determine what is important that you remember about your upbringing – try not to think of who he is now but what he was like as a parent. It is not who he is that you are looking for, but who you think the father who brought you up was. It is your memories of him, it is your view of who he was to you as a parent that matters, it is your view of his character and the lessons he expected you to follow.
This recall process will take a long time especially if you have only recently left home, but once it has been done then you want to summarise the key characteristics of his parenting as you remember them. Write out this summary, it is this summary you are going to use.
Now do the same with regards to your mother so that you also have a summary for her. These two summaries are what I am calling the father-ego and mother-ego of our inner parents.
Now I want you to examine each of these characteristics by asking “Am I this characteristic?” giving your answer in these simple terms yes/sometimes/no. List them in a table, there are no correct answers except honest ones:-
|Characteristic ||Yes ||Sometimes ||No |
| || || ||
Now we come to the hard parts. With regards to "yes" and "sometimes", ask yourself whether this is because of conditioning or whether this is the authentic you. Do you behave this way because you were taught so or because that is who you are? This is a long process, take your time, it could last days or even weeks.
"No" is a bit different. "No" means you have rejected these characteristics of your parent-egos. How much of this rejection is a rejection of this characteristic in you? This is a potential shadow. If your mother was always angry, and you repress your anger this is shadow, and it could come and bite you in the back. It is likely that if your parent-egos have a characteristic you will also have it as well. If you have rejected it – "no", then you need to integrate that characteristic before its shadow hurts you. Remember integration does not mean accepting the characteristic, but it means that you might unreasonably have rejected it and therefore you should examine it with sampajanna as to it possibly being appropriate behaviour. This part of the process is also hard and will take time.
At the end of this process I would hope you have delineated your behaviour connected to the egos of your inner parents into authentic and conditioning based on being who your parents wanted you to be. We can unconsciously “inherit” behaviours by copying out of love, but these copied behaviours are not who we are but who our parents wanted us to be. Through sampajanna we can examine the conditioned behaviours and simply let them go. Our objective as always is to follow our paths be who we are, be authentic and let our conditioned egos just fall away.
Reconciling the Inner Child
Now we come to the culmination of our work on fragments - reconciling the inner child. I found Thich Nhat Hanh’s book "Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child" excellent for guiding me through this. But please note this warning that he repeats throughout the book in one form or another “"We invite the sadness, despair, regrets, longings that in the past have been difficult for us to touch, and we sit down and talk with them like old friends. But before we invite them up, we must be sure that the lamp of our mindfulness is lit and that its light is steady and strong," [p86 of 269]. Thay in his books focusses on mindfulness, one of the 4 Dhamma comrades, Buddhadasa’s MwB hopes to build protection of all 4 Dhamma comrades. It’s fine that “our mindfulness is lit and that its light is steady and strong”, what is important is that we are protected. The time I began this work of communicating with the Inner Child was just recently, after I had done so much work represented by the Treatise and Manual. Be protected. Thay also focusses on communities (Plum Villages); if there is not self-protection the community can protect. Take seriously the need for protection before doing this inner work.
Now my work with my Inner Child is private, but I kept a diary of my work that was 7000 words. I entitled it “My Wounded Child”; I recommend you keep a diary. Because I was ready (all the previous work as attested), I found communication relatively easy. Most importantly I found it informative. In some ways I have spent a lifetime on the path (near and far in Treatise and Manual) yet I learned. No matter what your path I heartily recommend communicating with the Inner Child.
For a long time I have been interested in Thich Nhat Hanh’s work but this book came just at the right time, reading it cover-to-cover. Using his book as guide my first attempt at connecting gave me the certainty of a connection, but all that was there was anger. I did not use my formal posture of meditation but lay on the bed in foetal position – for all of this fragment work that is the position I preferred, starting with Nyanga. My conviction that there was connection made me work again, and this time I learned the main truth of my communication – too personal. Throughout the communication I was having a conversation with my inner child. I was not asking myself how I felt as a child but I was speaking to the child as another person hearing the answers in my head. Following this main truth there were several sessions; although there was communication nothing new arose. At some point the conversation was over because it was clear – no new communication.
The above worked for me but Thay then offered other techniques to develop communication as described in Ch 6 of his book:-
Try these different forms of communication for yourself. The basic objective is to communicate with the inner child until there is nothing to be said. Whilst it is happening treat it as communication with another, talk as in a dialogue with another, you are not asking yourself but the other – your inner child. I have no doubts that what will arise will be informative in your inner journey.
In this chapter I have spoken of different approaches at determining shadows and fragments, and integrating those fragments so you can be 100% dedicated to the path. The more I reflect on fragments, the more I see protection, a way of living through childhood so that I could follow my path as an adult. Especially in conversation with the wounded child I felt there was emotional pain that had led to fragmentation, but whilst there was that pain there was a coping mechanism, a way of living through childhood that led to the path as a mature adult. Because we choose our parents I see this fragmentation as a choice, I knew that I would fragment, I knew I would cope, and then when there was upheaval I was a completely new person with limited conditioning – and what there was was shadowed.
It is important to understand the role of fragmentation in 100%-dedication to the path. All of me (no fragments) has to be dedicated to the path 100%; with fragments I am not 100% so 100% means integrating fragments. During my life (Treatise and Manual) I have been at various levels of closeness to the path, but was never able to dedicate myself to the path 100%, having chosen compassion and then teaching after upheaval. I have been able to provide for myself in early retirement for that 100% dedication. With the removal of fragments I feel closer and closer – with the health proviso of limitation of aging. For me without integrating, the path is not being followed.
Integrate fragments, and follow your path.