Dirty diapers, being woken up in the middle of the night, a house full of screams and squeals, food splattered all over the walls, toys strewn chaotically over the floor, no more late nights out, no time to read books or attend courses or retreats… What could be spiritual about bringing up children? Isn’t spiritual development just one of the many things we sacrifice when we have kids?
Many spiritual traditions would agree with this view. That’s why priests and monks have always been celibate. To be spiritual we’re supposed to live apart from the normal world, in monasteries, forests, or in the desert, meditating and praying in solitude. Nothing is meant to divert us from our spiritual practices—least of all a family, which takes up so much of our time and energy.
In India, there is a tradition that spiritual development belongs to a later stage of life—roughly after the age of fifty. First we have to live through the “householder” stage, bringing up and providing for our children, and living a worldly life. But once our children are grown up, we can turn our attention to the inner world. We can start meditating regularly and living more quietly and simply.
How to Read the Rest of This Article
The text above was just an excerpt. The web versions of our print articles are now hosted by Duke University Press, Tikkun‘s publisher. Click here to read an HTML version of the article. Click here to read a PDF version of the article.
(To return to the Winter 2013 Table of Contents, click here.)