It is said that the Jesuits of centuries ago possessed a maxim: "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man." What the Society of Jesus knew, all that time ago, was in essence one of the most foundational building blocks of the human self as we are only now coming to acknowledge it.
Within the earliest years of our lives we are in a highly absorptive state, our brain waves operating at a low frequency known as a theta rhythm — the same as those experienced during the first stages of sleep, a state also known as hypnagogia, unique in its place between the waking and sleeping worlds. This is the reason it is so difficult to recall memories from that time — we don't truly 'exist' in the same way that we do in later life. We are steeped so deeply in the process of building our 'conscious' selves that we are literally up to nothing but becoming — learning everything, absorbing the world around us, taking in every bit of stimuli as we gradually grow in awareness, slowly condensing into the selves that we will be for the rest of our lives.
Given this, the utter importance of the influences we experience during those first years is more than obvious. Yet it goes beyond what we are 'taught' on a so-called conscious level. We are getting everything. As in the state of hypnagogia, we are open to all of the subconscious, archetypal patterns emanating from within the ostensible behaviours of everyone we encounter. From the time we are born we are steadily soaking up the frequencies of the culture we've come to find ourselves in. There is no 'off' switch. The more closely and continuously we are exposed to certain patterns, the more deeply they are assimilated, embedding themselves within — and growing into — our own, and it is through this process that the programming of our parents is passed down. So too was it received by them. It is a long, ever-evolving resonant field of mental and emotional energies that reaches back generations, on into antiquity, and it is upon these pillars that the individual as we've come to know it is built.
The question arises, then, of the quality of these energies, as well as 'consciousness' as we define it. While humanity is of course an incredible expression of infinite variance, there is no denying the existence of an immensely powerful negative force within the totality. As always, one need only look at the state of the world to confirm this. How is it that we find it so impossible to adjust ourselves to the physical environment without destroying it? How is it that we still cannot co-exist without murdering one another in mass numbers? What is it, exactly, about our consciousness that disallows this? Can we, in fact, truly refer to ourselves as 'conscious'? Is this the type of world a race of conscious beings would create?
While there can be no solid estimation, it is abundantly clear that very little of our actions are guided by what we may one day come to call true consciousness. We do not understand ourselves, and we cannot see it. The evidence of this stretches all the way back from the macro picture of the world to that of the micro in the individual. Just as it is easy to see how the behaviour of others is responsible for the state of the world, yet harder to conceive of our own accountability, so too is it in our personal lives. Other people, circumstances, and fate are what the majority of us hold responsible for the unsatisfactory state of our lives, not ourselves. Others tell us we behave just as our parents do, yet we fail to recognize this, remaining, for the most part, convinced of our individuality.
Yet the programming runs deep. We may find ourselves in situations our parents never encountered and nonetheless react in a manner nearly identical to them. We catch ourselves, at times, succumbing to our 'parenting intincts' when dealing with our own children, failing to realize just how often those same intincts are actually in control. We are not free beings. It is the habit mind, the subconsious self that guides us. Our outlook on the world, our motives, our underlying sense of ourselves — nearly all of it has been delivered to us through the generational channels of this psychological lineage, through the behaviour vectors of being to being. And just as our aberrant ideologies and behaviours pass through us, so do they perpetuate themselves through the institutions that dominate our world, and the destructive forces they've become. It is in this way that the sickness and the sadness of the ages is passed down. We are limited. We are in pain. Much suffering has occurred over the centuries, and it is this that we absorb, this that we inflict upon the world. It is a vicious cycle. We are the victims of old patterns that no longer apply, belief structures that are compelling us into extinction. Consciousness as we experience it is essentially unconscious, and it is this inheritance — far more than genetics alone — to which we owe the state of our lives on this planet. It cannot continue on as it has been. It is time now to begin the work of releasing it.
Doing so requires diligent dedication to a different process, one as old as the very programming it has the ability to dismantle. While the mysteries of the mind remain deep, its effects on the body have been known for millennia. Particular forms of meditation — during which theta brain waves again become the dominant frequency — cause bodily changes in the practitioner. Neurobiology research has recently confirmed this, leading to the understanding of the brain as being 'plastic' in a sense — that it possesses the ability to re-write pathways previously held to be unchangeable after a certain age. Similar findings have also come to light in the field of epigenetics, demonstrating that environment and intention indeed have an effect on the physical expression of genes.
And so with this meeting of science and spirituality, we confirm a profound reality. Not only can we re-write the architecture of our own minds, but we can affect our biology in so doing. This is the true meaning of Mastery, the true meaning of self-definition.
And, while this is an exceptionally broad topic on its own, there are some basic rudiments that can be adhered to in order to begin the process. It is a matter of staying vigilantly aware. Observe your thoughts, observe your reactions and emotions. Stop denying the negativity in yourself — notice it, allow it its existence, and then choose again. When you encounter it in others, do much the same. Learn to detach. Practice consistently. Use the power of intention to re-make yourself.
Not only will doing so begin the forward movement into honest self-empowerment, it will also serve as an immensely potent step towards uncovering your true calling. By beginning the process of clearing away the clutter of the negative mind-static that we've inherited, we are essentially whittling down to the very core proclivities we carry, slowly uncovering our deepest traits and inherent tendencies — not what we think they may be, or want them to be, but what they actually are. We are slowly unlocking the authentic path.
Beyond this, it is possible to move yet deeper. If the practice becomes our first nature, it may eventually lead us to the complete divestation of all of the unconsciousness we carry, into the realm of what some may call enlightenment. This is the true mind, the cosmic mind. Within it, every moment is experienced with total cleanness, total clarity. It is the experience of oneself as the empty cup, the vessel that is utterly void and therefore endlessly overflowing. It is a return to our intrinsic nature as the conduits for cosmic consciousness we truly are.
Starting on this path, in any form, is the greatest gift we can give not only to ourselves, but to our children as well. It is a model for them of such openness and such allowance that it will be very hard for them not to flower within the freedom it grants. It makes no difference whether we ourselves feel we had a wonderful childhood or horrible one. It's over. It is time now to heal, and that can only be done by remaining conscious enough to notice the wounds or biases it left us with as they arise in the present moment. What we have received from our parents must be released if we are to begin the work of truly freeing the species. The limits imposed upon us, the disempowerment of generations — our deep-seated emotions, our particular patterns of thought in everyday life and the triggering mechanisms that exist between the two — must be recognized for what they are if we have any hope of creating a new world.
It's not an easy task, but it must be done. Overcoming our parents, facing our direct heritage and beginning the work of acknowledging the dysfunction it has placed in us can be exceptionally frightening. After all, this is who we are.
Or so we think.
The ideas presented in this article are based on the research of Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution, The Honeymoon Effect and Passage of Change.