Friday, January 30, 2009

Raising kids and training doctors

When you raise a child, the subject of religion comes up pretty early usually. For most people steeped in a nice Mythic tradition, this is not a hard discussion. They tell the kid how things are, and the kid believes. Hopefully, later in life, the kid figures out more stuff on its own too.

How would you raise a child to adopt an Integral approach to spirituality though?

Can you imagine talking to a three-year old about Oneness and ego and living in the Now? Not gonna happen...

The interesting thing about the spiritual line of development is that EVERY human being must pass through each stage. We are all born at Stage 1, an infant that does not know the difference between itself and its surroundings. From there, we ALL go through a period where the world is magical to us. Many of us then get into the doctrine and mythology of it afterwards, as we proceed to the Mythic stage. Hopefully, people then go on from there to Rational, Pluralistic, Integral, etc.

When raising a child, each approach and each stage must be taught at the appropriate time. Even into adulthood you proceed through stages, if you do not get stuck at one of them. It is a lot like the regular development of a human from infancy, to childhood, to adolescence, to young adulthood, to adulthood, to middle age, to old age.

On the other hand, training people to be doctors is not like that.

Can you imagine going in on your first day of medical school and learning about bloodletting, leaches, and the Four Humors? Then as you proceed through your four years you eventually get to complex clinical diagnosis and treatment? Not gonna happen...

In this line of development you do not need to start out learning what doctors learned 1000 years ago. In fact, doing that can make for a really crappy doctor!

Most lines of development that deal with information seem to be like this. It helps to get information that is useful to your population during your current time period. Religious and spiritual information is not like this for some reason.


Anonymous said...
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Polina Filipova said...

Consider then this: Like millions of other children, I have spent the pre-school years of my life in a communistic nation. Noone has ever fed me any myths. I have grown up without a need for belief.

My father has done his best to explain evolution theory to me by the time I have turned 5 years old and has been successful about it, for which I pay him due respect.

Nonetheless by age 10-11 I have been given a number of materials on comparative religion and philosophy to read through, and have been encouraged to take a path of my own.

By age 13 I was more or less agnostic (cannot prove, cannot disprove, cannot be bothered to). It was then that I discovered the zen approach to reality and it did change my life in ways that nothing else could possibly have.

-- All this said, I cannot imagine what it is to instill belief on a blank page such as a child's mind is. Planting facts is a heavy responsibility, ethics - even heavier, belief is another category altogether which I simply cannot relate to. My mind is otherwise shaped, so to speak.

Josh said...

You were given a bunch of materials to form your own beliefs.

A person in the Mythic stage does not necessarily need to officially belong to some religion or creed. Being in the "Mythic Stage" only means that you have some set of beliefs that you hold to be the only one true set of beliefs.

You can be an agnostic in the Mythic Stage if at any point you belief that agnosticism is the "Truth".