The two of Stone is the beginning of choice. Once we have looked backwards from where we’ve come and begun to interpret how our ancestral inheritance influences our way of being in the world, we must choose whether we wish to play out those ancestral patterns in our own lives. The choice on the path of Wisdom is: “will I honor my ancestors by being my own player or will I act in the role “written” for me by my familial patterns?” At this point we must look carefully at our individual ideas about filial piety and respect in conjunction with what it means to be one’s own person.
Most religious traditions have an inherent rule of elder respect. The Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments instruct us to: “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.1” Confucianism, which still strongly influences the relational dynamics in China and Chinese influenced cultures, places emphasis on filial piety and appropriate respect within the societal power structures. The principle of hsaio states that because of the great sacrifices parents make for their children the child is responsible for bringing honor to the family, sharing their physical and spiritual resources with their parents, and furthering their parents’ values even after their death.2 In ancient Rome the paterfamilias had absolute power over his family, including slaves. It was only with his blessing that a baby lived or died, and he was the only property owner until his death. Even grown sons were dependent upon his benevolence for their households. With such familial power structures in our not so ancient past, it is unsurprising that the path of Wisdom starts with choosing to be one’s own person.
In your family of origin, what does it mean to “respect my elders?” Is there an inherent implication that my choices must be approved by my parents (and grandparents and so on)? What are the consequences for disobeying or stepping outside of the family’s approval? Have you ever stepped outside of familial approval?
Was a particular role written for you in your family? Perhaps the eldest child as surrogate parent? Or the black-sheep? Or everyone’s baby? How has that role affected you into your adult life? Do you find yourself still playing it and most importantly does it actually fit you as a person? Do you wish to move out of the constraints of such roles in your life?
Were you expected to step into a certain career path, spiritual faith, or political affiliation? Have you found yourself deviating from those expectations? What has been the effect of relationships because of such deviation?
Is it possible in your life to “respect your elders” and still be autonomous and independent? How can you reconcile your unique voice and the expectations of the Ancestors?
Consider the choices you’ve made, the roles you may play, and how you can make those roles work for you rather than merely fulfilling expectations of others. Look at what choices are placed in front of you now and weigh them carefully against your own heart, desires, and dreams. When it comes time to act, act in accordance with your heart and your Soul’s purpose.