Saturday December 7, 2013
Here's a bit of history trivia for you. The BBC has a feature story about a man believed to be the first western-born Buddhist monk. And he didn't exactly fit the mold of a scholarly romantic searching for an idealized religion, as many of the first western Buddhists were.
Laurence Carroll is thought to have been born in Dublin in 1856. He left Ireland as a teenager and traveled to America. Carroll got work on a San Francisco/Yokohama shipping line, but he was fired -- reportedly for drunkenness -- and left stranded in Japan. He made his way to Burma, which at the time was a province of British India, and found employment with a logging company.
Thursday December 5, 2013
For the past few years us "converts" have been debating how to incorporate Buddhism into family life, especially child raising. Some data revealed that "dharma brats," children of Buddhist convert parents, rarely take to Buddhism themselves. This is not necessarily a problem, because I don't think everybody has to be Buddhist.
But I was taken aback by a series of articles I found on "how to raise an enlightened child." The actual advice given wasn't bad, but my first bit of advice would be "don't try to raise an enlightened child." Maybe just aim at raising a kind child. That's do-able. But nobody can be conditioned into enlightenment.
Wednesday December 4, 2013
Recently I've seen several articles about the college-age children of "helicopter" parents and how these young people don't function well when mommy and daddy aren't around. I've also learned there is a "mindful parenting" movement (also "attachment" parenting, "green" parenting, and "free-range" parenting, the latter of which sounds like something that would require open prairies).
My children are adults now, so I'm mostly out of the parenting biz. Looking back, I don't think my parenting "style" ever rose to the level of a movement methodology. Well, not unless there's a "what the bleep do I do now?" movement. The only book I ever consulted was one of Dr. Spock's, which was so old it still discussed when the kids should get their smallpox vaccines.
I found a couple of articles on mindful parenting, and apparently this boils down to using mindfulness to manage one's own stress while practicing non-attachment (which is not the same as detachment) with one's children. An established mindfulness practice could help a parent avoid a lot of parenting pitfalls, I would think.
Wednesday November 27, 2013
A little more on the raft parable -- I occasionally bump into someone saying the raft parable tells us we can ignore dharma teachings as we like, because we're supposed to ditch them, anyway. This is an un-serious interpretation, seems to me.
However, in his comments on this parable, Thanissaro Bhikkhu said something that I don't believe is true --
"Many a casual reader has concluded from the simile of the raft simply that the Dhamma is to be let go. In fact, one major Mahayana text -- the Diamond Sutra -- interprets the raft simile as meaning that one has to let go of the raft in order to cross the river."
Let's look at this --