Generational Trauma & Healing: Culture & Karma In Action

I have always believed that generational trauma, given enough generations, becomes culture. Historical events have a tendency to leave deep scars that alter the way we see the world, and that skewed perspective, once accepted as the norm, is then taught to future generations. Think of the generation that was raised in the Great Depression and how the scarcity they experienced was passed down on their children and grandchildren in the form of insecurity and seeing wealth as goodness, eventually creating a culture of hoarding.

While the Great Depression was a global event that caused mass unemployment and poverty to most of the world, there are constant mass traumatic events happening throughout the world to groups and nations. Any student of history can find lingering traces of division in any nation that has experienced a civil war, even if that war did not occur in living memory. The traumas live on in the descendants, calcifying into culture.

This passing on and sharing of traumas within families and communities reflects the Indian concept of karma. Karma means “action” in Sanskrit. It is almost always explained simply, as a ripple effect of our desires, intentions, and actions that create our future destiny. This is almost true, but misses a much bigger point as karma is fundamentally about relationships. On the personal level this is how we relate to one another in our families and our communities, as well as how we relate to groups, concepts, and ideas.

Karma is inherited, passed on, and shared. We inherit the karma of the families we are born into and the ancestors that came before us – and scientifically we know this to be true as DNA can show the familial connections between family that is known and unknown, and mitochondrial DNA can be traced back through the centuries.

But even for those adopted into families, the traditions and traits unique to that family are inherited and passed along. We inherit the karma of the towns we are born in, and the places we are raised, and all the places we reside in throughout our life.

Karma exists on the collective level. Groups, nations, communities all have karma. This also means that the karma of nations is inherited from its people. Relationships go both ways.

If generational trauma can create culture, then so can generational healing.

Any work we as individuals can do to heal ourselves will inevitably help heal future generations and heal our culture. Just like karma, it all begins with desire and intention, followed by action. By consciously addressing and resolving our personal and inherited traumas we can alter cultural narratives, fostering a more harmonious and enlightened existence for all. The pursuit of healing is not just an individual endeavor but a collective obligation, we can potentially rewrite the narratives of our shared histories, cultivate deeper understanding and compassion, and usher in a new era where culture is not a relic of unhealed wounds but a beacon of collective wisdom and harmonized existence.

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