The health of a society is directly related to the overall health—physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual—of the individuals within it. And while it is true that human beings are infinitely complex, over time we have learned much about human behavior and development. For the last 150 years, psychology has set to the task of describing the necessary conditions for optimal psycho-emotional health. And for thousands of years before that, spiritual traditions have been detailing what might be called the essential nature of human beings. At the beginning of the 21st century, we stand in a unique place as we have the potential to weave together these two strands of knowledge: direct experience of our True Nature, or Essence, gleaned from spiritual traditions, and psychology’s research on the human psyche. When integrated, these fields can profoundly improve the mental and emotional health of individuals and society. Essential Parenting seeks to be that integration.
Our model starts with the core belief that as infants we are all deeply in contact with our Essence. During the course of our ego development, however, we lose contact with the direct experience of our True Nature. We then begin to identify with a constructed image of who we are—an image that is largely devoid of the experience of our Essence. Living as if these mental constructs are more real than our Essence is at the root of much human suffering.
It is my hope that our parent classes will help caretakers understand the ontological nature of children in order to generate support for two very specific, yet ultimately inseparable, processes: the development of a healthy functioning ego and the potential rediscovering of our Essence, which is fundamental to later stages of human maturation. I believe that humanity can greatly benefit from child-caregiver relationships that unfold in the context of an integrated psychological and spiritual understanding of human development. Our parenting classes aim to do just that.