Cool title, but I’m keeping under wraps for a little while…
I’m turning my Doctoral dissertation from the dry academic format required by the Doctoral Academy, into a yummy exposition of the amazing group of people I interviewed – children whose parents were renowned spiritual teachers…their lives and their experiences growing up with such illustrious parents!
My dissertation met the formal requirements of the Academy including references to research, methodology, literature reviews, etc… Not exactly the stuff of light easy reading…but the actual interviews I conducted were fascinating, juicy and rich. For years people have asked me to turn it into a readable book. And so I finally am!
My topic idea came about in a rather unusual way…here is how it all started…and this is most likely how I start the book…
The whole trajectory of my next few years suddenly changed in a San Francisco instant. The view through the airport shuttle bus window remained the same…yellow, blue and pink houses still clung to the hillside, the fog still rolled over the mountain stopping like a curtain just before the banana belt so that the sunshine twinkled on the water ocean-side…but the look and shape of my next few years had suddenly changed! And really is was because I so tired after a very long 36 hour trip returning from Africa that my mind was blank enough to stop thinking.
It is in those serendipitous moments that all sorts of unexpected magic can pop into your head. Instead of focusing on the topic I had been ruminating about, mulling over, exploring literature in the field about, and generally making myself thoroughly sick of, a strange new question just popped into my head. What would it be like, I thought, if you were the child of a renowned spiritual teacher?
Ok perhaps on some level the question was not that strange. I was doing a Doctorate in East-West Psychology exploring mystical states, traditions and teachings from around the world after all. And I had spent many years amongst students who chose to study in those traditions too. As a Transpersonal Psychologist, I have always encouraged my clients who wished to explore spirituality as part of their healing process.
In many ways, for some of them, I have been a spiritual mentor. A high Sufi initiation and studies in spiritual counseling allow me to mentor others in spiritual matters. As a mother of two wonderfully spiritually aware children, I have had a lifelong interest in how children receive their spiritual teachings, particularly in families that emphasize spirituality as the basis for the meaning they give to their lives. But really, I thought, would it not be different, if a person was actually born into the tradition, and their parents were seen as the unquestionable authorities and representatives of the Ultimate Divinity? Surely that must be a profound, complex paradigm to be born into?
As so often happens when one is being spiritually danced, synchronicity played a role in confirming my choice to change my dissertation topic. The day after the idea popped into my head, I was visited by the teenage daughter of a friend who was attending a young person’s spiritual retreat in Santa Cruz. She called to ask whether she and a retreat friend of hers friend could spend the weekend at my loft in San Francisco. She surprised me by arriving at my home with the teenage son of a Rimpoche. A sweet, shy boy, he was a typical 16 year old both in in his dress and his demeanor. But his destiny was far from typical! He has been recognized as a Tulku, the reincarnation of a very high Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and he had been brought up with the expectation that, like his father, he too will become an important teacher and leader in his community. I was excited by this seemingly random visit, and shared with him the fact that for me his visit was confirmation from the universe that I should indeed pursue this topic for my dissertation. “Don’t interview me”, he said blushing. “I’m still 16 and all I want to do is play video games!”
“Wow” I thought, “how fascinating.” I could only imagine the pressure of the expectations on him…not to mention all sorts of other issues I was suddenly very interested to find out about…and so began a few years of very interesting research…that lead me to meet to some very interesting people in some very interesting places…