The Shining Example
Parents sometimes ask me how they can impart this teaching to their children. Don Miguel has often been asked the same question. Every spiritual teacher has been asked something like it, many, many times. How soon can I teach this stuff to my kids? How can I get my friends to join me on this spiritual journey?
Lots of people wonder how they can get their families to follow the teaching. They want to stop a spouse’s annoying habits, or they want their teenagers be more agreeable. They want everyone to just be as excited about the Four Agreements as they are. They want very much to change other people…for their own good.
That’s understandable, I guess, but also disconcerting. I have to wonder whether the people asking those questions are really interested in improving themselves or just intent on fixing everyone else. They seem to be asking, “How can I make so-and-so as wonderful and wise as I imagine myself to be?”
It’s normal to want to share our discoveries with the people we love, but each person’s evolution is his own. Transformation is a journey to be taken alone; and it begins when we realize that the lessons we learned growing up weren’t enough to make us feel whole. At that point, we start searching for more.
We want to learn more, understand more. We want to develop a better relationship with ourselves and a better connection to life. We gravitate toward people who seem wiser and happier than we are. We read books and go to seminars. We switch religions or follow exotic spiritual paths. The thing is, most of us don’t really want to visit new places by ourselves. We want company.
In past Toltec Dreaming workshops, don Miguel repeatedly warned us not discuss the teaching with anyone else. As he pointed out, we were still students, not masters. Preaching to other people would invite conflicts we weren’t prepared to handle. It could trigger fear in those who felt threatened by change. Above all, we needed to respect the fact that our friends and families didn’t choose this teaching; we did.
We don’t need to impose our choices on anyone. Children are busy being children. They want to fit in, not seek answers to life’s deeper questions. The best we can do as parents is to be inspiring role models. As we become more mature and aware, our children notice. They see that their mom or dad isn’t like other moms or dads. They notice the difference, and make their own decisions about the qualities and behaviors they most want to emulate.
How can you share great lessons with your family? Well, ask yourself if you’re putting those lessons into practice. Has the teaching become part of your everyday reality? Has it become a mastery? If it has, you’re no longer judging everyone else. And you’re already teaching by example. If not, it’s wise to keep practicing.
Practice makes the master. So, while you’re putting a new wisdom into practice, respect other dreams. Respect other people, and respect yourself for facing unfamiliar challenges on your own. Recognize that it’s not your duty to “fix” everyone around you. Try instead to love, to accept, and to enjoy people as they are.
And don’t worry about your kids missing out on something. Your thoughtful actions and tempered reactions are instruction enough for them. Let children evolve at their own pace, in their own way. You’ll be right there, every day, being the shining example they really need.