noticed that all problems have their roots in the family tree. To examine a person’s difficulties is to enter into the psychological atmosphere of his or her family. We are marked by the psychomental universe of our families. We are marked by their characteristics, but also by their insane ideas, their negative feelings, their inhibited desires, and their destructive acts.
The father and mother project all their phantoms onto the expected infant. They want to see him or her do what they themselves could not experience or accomplish. Thus, we assume a personality that is not our own, but comes from one or more members of our emotional environment. To be born into a family is, as it were, to be possessed.
Fetus Influenced by the Parents’ Diseases and Neuroses
The gestation of a human almost never takes place in a healthy manner because the fetus is influenced by the parents’ diseases and neuroses. After a certain time, just seeing a client move and hearing a few spoken phrases was enough for me to tell the manner in which he or she had been born. (Someone who feels compelled to do everything quickly was born in a few minutes, as if with urgency. Someone who, faced with a problem, waits until the last moment to resolve it, using outside help, was born with forceps. Someone who has trouble making decisions was born by caesarean section.)
I realized that the way we are born, which is often not the correct way, alters the course of our entire lives. And these bad deliveries result from our parents’ emotional problems with their own parents. The damage is transmitted from generation to generation: the possessed become the possessors, projecting onto their children what was projected onto them, unless there is a gaining of consciousness that breaks the vicious circle.
We must not be afraid to explore ourselves deeply in order to confront the ill-formed part of our being, the horror of nonachievement, and shatter the genealogical obstacle that rises up against us as a barrier and obstructs the ebb and flow of life. In this barrier we find the bitter psychological sediment of our fathers and mothers, our grandparents and great-grandparents. We must learn to stop identifying ourselves with the family tree and understand that it is not in the past: on the contrary, it is alive, present within every one of us.
Every time we have a problem that seems to us to be individual, the whole family is involved. At the moment we become conscious, in one way or another, the family begins to evolve—not only the living members, but also the dead ones. The past is not set in stone. It changes according to our point of view. We have a different understanding of ancestors whom we consider heinously guilty of altering our mentality. After forgiving them, we should honor them, which is to say, know them, analyze them, dissolve them, reshape them, thank them, love them, and finally see the “Buddha” in each and every one of them.
Everything that we have achieved spiritually could have been done by any one of our relatives. The responsibility is immense. Any fall drags down the whole family, including future children, for three or four generations. Children do not perceive time in the same way that adults do. What seems to an adult to last an hour, children experience as if it lasts for months, and it marks them for their whole lives.
Reproducing the Abuses We Suffered During Childhood
As adults, we tend to reproduce the abuses we suffered during childhood, either on other people or on ourselves. If I was tortured yesterday, then I keep on torturing myself today, becoming my own tormenter. There is a great deal of talk about sexual abuses suffered during childhood, but we tend to overlook intellectual abuses, which imbue the child’s mind with insane ideas like perverse prejudices and racism; emotional abuses that include deprivation of love, contempt, sarcasm, verbal aggression; material abuses like lack of space, abusive changes of territory, lack of clothing, and improper nourishment.
There are also abuses of the being, which may include not being given the opportunity to develop one’s true personality, having one’s life planned out as a function of one’s family history; being forced into an alien destiny, not being seen for who one is, being made into a mirror of someone else, being desired to be someone else, being born a boy to parents who wanted a girl or vice versa; not being allowed to see what one wants to see; not being allowed to listen to certain things; not being allowed to express oneself; or being given an education consisting of the implantation of limits. As for sexual abuse, the list is long, as long as the list of accusations: “I married out of obligation because your mother was pregnant with you; you have been a burden to us; I left my career because of you; you are selfish to want to live your life; you have betrayed us; you let yourself surpass us and achieved what we could not.”
When Did All This Begin?
I often see people burdened by problems dating back to the First World War because a great-grandfather returned from the front with lung disease caused by toxic gases, which caused him emotional disturbances, an inability to fulfill himself, moral devaluation. And when the father is weak or absent, the mother becomes dominant, invasive, and is no longer a mother.The absence of a father brings about that of the mother. The children grow up with a thirst for caresses, which translates into repressed anger that extends through several generations. The lack of touch is the greatest abuse suffered by a child.
All this garbage affects us, even if it is not conscious. The relationships between our parents and our aunts and uncles trickle down onto us. For example, Jaime hated Benjamín, his younger brother. I was Jaime’s younger child. I became a screen onto which his brother was projected. This allowed him to vent his bottled-up hatred onto me. Even if we know nothing of rapes, abortions, suicides, shameful events, incarcerated relatives, venereal diseases, alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, or countless other secrets in our families, we still suffer from all of it, and sometimes we repeat it.
The Family Tree Behaves as a Living Being
The tree, with all its limbs, behaves as an individual, a living being. I dubbed the study of its problems “psychogenealogy”. Some therapists who have conducted studies in genealogy have wanted to reduce it to mathematical formulas, but the tree cannot be contained in a rational cage; the subconscious is not scientific, it is artistic. The study of families must be performed in a different way.
A geometric body, with the relationships between its parts completely known, cannot be modified. In an organic body whose relationships are mysterious, you can add or remove a part, but in its essence it will still be what it is. The internal relationships of the family tree are mysterious. To understand them it is necessary to enter the tree as if in a dream, so it should not be interpreted, it should be experienced.
The patient must make peace with her subconscious, not becoming independent of it but making it an ally. If we learn its language, we can put it to work for us. If the family within us, rooted in childhood memory, is the basis of our subconscious, then we must develop each relative as an archetype. We must ascribe our level of consciousness to it, exalt it, imagine it reaching its highest potential. Everything we give it, we are giving to ourselves. When we deny it, we deny ourselves.
We Are The Fruit That Gives Our Family Tree Its Value
As for toxic people, we should transform them by saying, “This is what they did to me, this is what I felt, this is what the abuse causes in me today, this is the reparation I desire.” Then, still within ourselves, we must bring all the relatives and ancestors to their fulfillment.
A Zen master once said, “Buddha nature is also in a dog.” This means that we must imagine the perfection of every person in our family. Does someone have a heart full of bitterness, a brain clouded by prejudice, deviant sexuality due to moral abuses? Like a shepherd with his sheep we must guide them to the good path, cleansing them of their poisonous needs, desires, emotions, and thoughts.
A tree is judged by its fruits, so if the fruit is bitter the tree it came from, even if it is majestic, is considered bad. If the fruit is sweet, the crooked tree it comes from is considered good. Our family—past, present, and future—is the tree. We are the fruit that gives it its value.