Sunday, February 08, 2009

neither monastic nor lay

In Dhammarati's excellent new talk, which contains many excellent elements, he talks about how in the FWBO we don't have to be a monastic to be mindful, you can practice it in any circumstances.

There's a quote of Charlotte Joko Beck, which I carry around, which I can't seem to find on the internet to link. It was a Dharma Dew or a daily teaching for one of the fine Buddhist magazines on line. Basically she was saying anything is your teacher. Life is the teacher, what ever it is, and it doesn't have to be a special monastic experience to be the teacher.

Now ask yourself a question. You're about to be born. Do you want your parents to strive to be mindful? The answer is yes. Caring is a natural outgrowth of mindfulness. Insightful is a natural outgrowth of mindfulness. Empathetic is a natural outgrowth of mindfulness. Responsive and responsible? Can come from mindfulness. All the things I can imagine I want in this thought-experiment could easily flow out of mindfulness.

Another thing about parenting and practice is it's great at exposing threats to equanimity. I find myself undone, challenged beyond my capabilities, at times I feel resourceless. I am utterly flummoxed. Children by their nature explore our boundaries, test, push the limits. It's not as glamorous as going on a long solitary, meditating in a cave, or running off to help the Dalit movement in India.

I have discovered many demons by parenting. I watch myself fall short of my ideals of kindness and mindfulness. I absolutely need to be responsive to my boys, even if it's not always appropriate. I have a hard time taking time for myself. And I'm utterly overwhelmed at times, I've discovered some sensory integration issues. The utter challenge of it, limits my ability to actually meditate at times, and thus deprives me of a crucial tool to help me be mindful. There are countless challenges to mindfulness as a parent. And why can't that be a prime spiritual challenge? What would be more beneficial than being a mindful parent?

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