This dialogue is from an Interview With Byron Katie. The interviewer is Ray Hemachandra. To read the interview in it's entirety, visit his website, Hemachandra.com.
Ray: Here’s a personal sticking point: identification with my child’s well-being. If I get cancer, I can accept and love what is, and even approach it joyfully, I think. But if my child gets sick — I have a son who was born in 2000 — I think I would be devastated.
Katie: Ray, what makes you think that you could handle cancer any better than he could? How do you know that he couldn’t handle cancer at least as well as you could? If something happens to your son, your thoughts about not having him in your life are what your terror is about. It’s not about his life.
When your son is healthy and happy, you’re happy. And when you’re son is not healthy, you’re unhappy. But that doesn’t make sense. When you question your thoughts about a time when your son is not healthy, you come to see that you’re the only one you’re worried about. It’s all about your happiness. You want him to be happy so that you can be happy. You want him to live for you.
It’s like this: If you’re okay with dying, your son could be at least as enlightened as that. If you’re okay with cancer, your son could be at least as enlightened as you are. And if your son is afraid to die, it’s because of what you’ve taught him. Some children are afraid to die because their parents are afraid to die. My own children have come to understand that it’s totally okay with me if they die. They don’t have to live for my sake.
What happens when you’re afraid for your child’s well-being? How do you react when you think the thought that something terrible could happen to your son and he’s out of your sight at 7 years old? How do you treat him when you think the thought that he’s not okay?
Look at that. You become frightened. You become overprotective. You begin to teach your child some very fearful things.
You don’t even realize you’re teaching them, because you try to hide your fear. You think you’re doing a good job of it. And yet your child picks up all your concepts.
Who would you be without your fear—without the fear of losing your son when he has cancer or he is dying? Who would you be without the thought “I need my son to be alive”? You would be present with him, not missing one second, not one moment, of your lives together.
It’s just too valuable to take time out for your fearful thoughts about what would happen to you without him. It’s all about you, you, you. I invite everyone to question their thoughts about their children and allow their children to be free. That’s when we stop teaching our children fear.