Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Family as a pure land

I can sometimes get trapped into thinking the family is an impediment to meditation, retreat, spending time with sangha, Dharma study. But nothing is so black and white as this. In what sense is the family a pure land?

My answer is that my children have helped me to see certain things, like that I have a bit of a temper and that I have more work to do. They have also taught me kindness and love. I think devoting yourself to the life of a child can be a challenge. I think that's why it's hard to be the child of someone famous: They're less inclined to do the slavery of parenting, they're too important, too busy, too powerful. One of my supervisors said of raising small children, that's it's wonderful but it's also boring. To subjugate yourself to such beings is self abnegating, and of course something useful in the spiritual life. My family life teaches me as many things as I'm open to. Sometimes I yearn for retreat, Dharma study, endless time with sangha. Family also helps me to clarify that that is what I want, because I notice I can't have it. Perhaps not the most important lesson in the world, but a lesson.

So this winter vacation, I'm going to look more towards, how is my family life a pure land, instead of feeling blocked in my other Dharma pursuits. I will work harder to love what is.

1 comment:

Jayarava said...

Hi Steve

I like this reflection on family life - realistic but optimistic. It makes me recall that the Buddha field (buddhakṣetra) is a field of living beings. And that it is amongst living beings that bodhicittā arises.

Every experience is marked by śūnyatā - as it says in the Heart Sūtra (sarvadharmānāṃ śūnyatā lakṣanā). No need to go looking for particular experiences - though of course setting up the right conditions for practice is not irrelevant. But you could see that as attitude adjustment. See the world as a pureland and it becomes a pureland.

Best of luck balancing all the demands on your time.