This post is not going to make me very popular, especially with those who hold very sweet, romantic concepts of one’s own ‘family’, but what to do. I’ve got to write what I’ve got to write. So, here goes…
What is family?
1 generation back, I had 2 ancestors.
2 generations back, I had 6 ancestors.
Going back 10 generations (roughly 250 yrs), I probably had 1,024 ancestors. I am not good with numbers, but you can do the math yourself. Maybe some of them were common ancestors, so the number could be less than 1,024.
Going back 30 generations (roughly 750 yrs), I probably had 1 billion ancestors.
Going back 40 generations (roughly 1,000 yrs), I could have had a trillion ancestors.
How many of these millions (at least) of actual family members do we choose to consider as our family? And how many other relatives did they have?
All the rest are discarded / disowned as ‘others’. Why? Forget about 40 generations back, we don’t even go back 5 generations. Why? Economic conditions? Family and individual incomes have gone down and people cannot afford to look after large groups of people? From large tribes to large joint families to smaller families to single family parents?
Or psychological reasons… we would feel overwhelmed to think about all these people? Is that why we have ignored all those wisdom teachers who taught us that family is not about all this. Its not about this shortlist of people that you carry around. Its not about your ‘blood’ and if it is about blood then the same blood flows through all of us. How can we not see that? How can we be stupid enough not to see that? It is unbelievable that we can land a man on the moon, explore farther and farther reaches of the universe and make so many incredible technological innovations, but we cannot see our innate oneness. To this extent, we are probably the dumbest of all species, not the smartest.
The great wisdom teachers told us to go beyond these concepts of family, religion, sexes, color, creed, caste and so on and so forth. But we were too blind to what they were saying. We are a spiritually blind specie. Just like some kinds of fish, shrimps, worms, beetles and other species are totally blind, we (99.999999% of us) are spiritually blind. We are just unable to see what we share with that person standing at the corner of the street or that co-worker or that person sitting in that car who is trying to overtake us and we say, ‘over my dead body’.
The wisdom teachers were telling us that we are all one family, we come from the same source. We all have the same father, the same source, the same creator.
I have written extensively on ‘ego’ before, so i’ll just extrapolate from that and keep it short. If interested, you can go back to my earlier posts and easily find what I have written earlier on this.
‘Ego’, the ‘I’, the personality that we develop, basically comes from two sources, i.e., firstly, our heredity, what we are born with, the genetic make-up that we bring with us as we come into this world and, secondly, the information that we acquire after birth, from our upbringing, our education, our interaction with people and what some call, our social programming.
The heredity or the genetic make-up is responsible for the functioning of our whole body up to maturation (puberty) and then also for mating and child bearing and keeping the new borns safe until their maturation. Once we have given birth and brought the young ones up safely, we are done. We have played our part in the cycle of life and we are now ready for the pasture. This is all that mother nature wanted us to do, i.e., to pass on the baton to the next generation (for their mating and parenting life) and then to retire. But, by the time that happens, we are so glued to this whole thing called life and to the social conditioning (which makes us greedy, clingy and unwilling to die) that we continue leading the same lives and thinking that life still needs us to keep doing the same thing, i.e., run after money and sex and everything else these two demand. We refuse to give up. And, from one point of view, rightly so. That is what life taught us to do. And now life wants us to get out of the line and take a side seat? No way! We are not going to give up what we have spent years in accumulating and learning.
So, anyway, that is the whole messy life that the ego, the ‘I’, wants us to live.
Back to the idea of ‘family’, the ego, the ‘I’, our social conditioning and programming makes us believe that our family is our parents, our spouses, our children and may be our siblings and their brothers and sisters. Very few people would include some others in that list. Most would like to keep the list of ‘family’ shorter, as short as possible.
That is how the ego works; the less the number of people we are responsible for, the better.
The concept of ‘family’ is one of the symptoms of the poison of ego that we have drunk. It is one of those social institutions, which, like money, like politics, like marriage, like private property, like religion, like nationality, like race, like ethnicity, divide us and create strife. All these are the poisonous effects of ego-based individual lives and societies.
Maybe one day, we will collectively wake up to these poisons!
I hope to write more on this further posts. In the meanwhile, start doing the maths on your forefathers, the previous generations and try to count how many family members you may have today even if you just count the last thousand or so years – keeping in mind that human history is thousands (if not millions) of years old.
Go on, spend some time on it… and it might give you a different perspective on the people you see on the road or in office tomorrow!