Saturday, August 20, 2005
Of Innocence and Consequences
I have been thinking of consequences and what it really means.
We have conditioned ourselves to believe that our actions have consequences. If you do something, such and such should be the result. If you think such and such, you should expect such and such. There are only consequences if you believe in consequences.
All thoughts, words and actions are innocent of motives; they are pure in intent. When I cough it is because I am coughing not because I'm coming up with a cold. When I eat it is because I am eating not because I need to be sustained. When I am smiling it is because I am smiling, not because I am happy. But the moment you start reading meanings into actions or thoughts, you are entering the realm of consequences.
Do you seriously think when babies put everything they come across in their mouths they are thinking of consequences? They are exploring the world they live in. Where is the harm in that? A bit of dirt is not harmful to a baby who doesn't know about harm. You hear consequences-conscious parents saying: "Don't eat that! Don't touch that! Leave it!" Things are only harmful to a baby who is under the influence of the belief in good and evil. Babies have no thoughts about consequences because consequences do not exist in reality. Innocence is innocence is innocence.
After pondering on consequences, I had the opportunity to see this in action with my mother.
My mother and I had arranged to go to the shops this morning. Just before we were going to leave, the phone rang. It was her friend. They chatted for a long time. I have to admit I was getting impatient and I wanted to leave NOW. She kept her friend holding on the phone while she went looking for something. She asked me if I knew. I said to her "come on, come on, I need to go."
When she got off the phone, she said, "I didn't like the way you spoke to me just now. You were very disrespectful."
"Really? How did you manage to read disrespect into 'come on, come on, I need to go!'?"
"I asked you a question and instead of answering it, you said you needed to go."
"Look mum, I wasn't listening to your conversation so I had no idea what information you wanted off me. I simply said "come on, I need to go."
"It's the way you said it," she said.
"I can assure you there was no mal-intent, I was just saying I need to go."
"Don't raise your voice at me!"
"Mum, if you feel I was being disrespectful, I apologise," I said. "Can we leave it and go now?"
"Your apology means nothing when you don't mean it," she said. She went off on one listing "grievances" from days of yore. After a while I screamed out "Mum!"
"How dare you shout at me!" and she was off again.
I didn't say anything else. As far as I was concerned nothing was trying to be something and I was giving it no more attention. After she'd finished, we went out.
After a few minutes of walking in silence I said, "Well? Have you got it out of your system?"
"What do you mean?"
"Whatever you needed to get out," I said. "You do realise you are wasting your breath getting angry with me because I can't get angry."
"Alright, if you say so," she said. "You go ahead."
"Why should I walk ahead of you? We are walking together, aren't we?"
A neighbour walked by and mum stopped and had a chat.
As we continued walking I said to her, "You are so funny sometimes!"
"Why do you say that?"
"You like to build something out of nothing," I said laughing. "Go on admit it."
"Well it isn't funny."
"It is. You've got to have a laugh," I said.
"You needed to let off steam and it's good to let off steam," I said giving her a hug. "You have to realise that being angry at me is like water off a duck's back, it doesn't stick. You need to find yourself a better sparring partner, it's wasted on me."
I see what happened with my mother as a moment of expression - no meaning, nothing personal. If I had read meanings into it there would have been consequences. I am not open to that reality.
All actions have consequences unless they don't.