by Prof William Auguste Foley, PhD, FAHA
For me, the family of Serge Benhayon provides a true model of how a family lives in love. There is much confusion about this concept. For nearly everyone, it is an emotion, a desire to have another fill a need in oneself. It connotes affection, actions designed to please another and so feel better about oneself. And it is directed at special others, our spouse, family and dear friends. But all of these understandings are mistaken. There is not a gram of emotion in true love; what we mistake for love is just attachment.
Almost all of us have grown up in households where true love was sorely lacking. We remember the anxiety and strife often at dinnertimes, the disconnection from each other as we satisfied our animal need to eat and the family or social compulsion to put on a good face in spite of the tension we all could so deeply feel. Over time we have developed poor patterns of eating, such as overeating to numb ourselves, eating carbohydrate foods to make us racy and eating in anxiety or a rush. We eat daydreaming, distracted, watching television or engaging in pointless conversation, disconnected from ourselves and everyone else. Over time, as adults we add alcohol to our repertoire at meals to further disconnect and numb the pain of our anxiety and emptiness. A meal with the Benhayon family is deeply healing. Food here is not to fill or numb us or to reward us for getting through the anxiety of the day. It is definitely not the focus of the meal. It is simply there to nourish our body so that we can perform the work to benefit others that we are called to do. And there is certainly no alcohol or stimulating drinks to dull or excite us; only water is drunk. Eating is done in a state of dispassion and detachment, with presence and awareness of one’s actions and their effects on others, a far cry from the usual frantic need for satiation of ‘let’s shovel’, so well parodied in The Simpsons, but unfortunately an all too accurate depiction of family life. The focus of the meal here is the connection among those present. Each offers their own contribution and is listened to with equal consideration and respect. Each feels the preciousness in which the unique value of what they bring is held. One should not get the impression that the affair is all seriousness and earnestness, there is much good humour, banter and lightheartedness, but the point is one feels uplifted by the experience. Not exhilarated or entertained, those are just forms of dulling our anxiety, but cared for and met, valued for who you are, and this is what we all most truly want, there is no greater experience on offer anywhere.