Sunday, February 03, 2008

Just read Karmabandhu's essay

Here is an essay by Karmabandhu on the FWBO news web site.

Here is one quote from his essay, "Obviously, we can and indeed have to practise in any situation, but it would be obtuse to argue that it is going to be as easy to meditate with two children crawling around watching telly tubbies on the TV as it is with a couple of friends who are also meditating. Conditions can either help or hinder us. If they didn’t, what would be the point of ever going on retreat? We might just as well go down the pub."

My response to the above quote is that I had children before the dharma sank in enough for me to understand that. But I also don't see it as so black and white, that I absolutely love my boys, and don't really want to change things, even if I do feel this renunciant pull. I've always wanted life to be more easy. And I've chosen a harder path, perhaps. I suppose I have patience that when my children grow up, and if I'm lucky to still be alive, then I will have my opportunity. My life has a kind of momentum, and I really must honor the choices I have made.

My niece overheard me say once, in a moment of desperation, "The boys have ruined my life." She was horrified by the notion and talked to her mom about it. I have to admit that I have felt that way at times. Adjusting to parenting is very hard. Nobody can imagine how much energy and time it will take, before hand. And I have two children. But that's a moment of desperation. What about all the other moments? I have great moments of love, tenderness, pride, excitement to see little being grow and develop. I have wildly optimistic comments the other way as well.

There is one stark fact about children. No matter how many feelings you have one way or the other, once they are born, they are the parents responsibility, and you harm them by putting that responsibility on others. Others can support, but I feel it's best to have the biological mother and father as the leaders in parenting of their children. My fathers left, and I felt the loss. Am I OK now? Yes. I survived it. But I feel it is the defining mark of my life that I come from divorced parents. My stepfather is wonderful. My stepmother is wonderful too, for that matter. And I can't just smoosh my parents back together. But it's best to intentionally have children and then take care of them. That's self evident. We were trying for 8 years before we had children, so we were overjoyed. Nevermind that in that time I found Buddhism and my sensibilities began to turn in another direction. Life has a kind of momentum, and out of respect for myself, I want to stand by my choices, even if now I value free time and quiet in a new way because of the dharma. Out of respect for my children, I want to wholly embrace my choice. They do not deserve my ambivalence when things get rough for me. It's the first ethical principle, to try and do no harm and violence to others.

They deserve a wholly committed father, and that is what I'm committed to.

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