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 --
Tuesday November 26, 2013
Most of you probably know the Buddha's raft simile -- that the dharma is like a raft that you can abandon once you are on the other shore. Recently I decided to check out exactly where the raft story originated.
The search led me to the Alagaddupama Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 22), also called the Water Snake Simile Sutta. There's a water snake parable that comes right before the raft parable, and apparently the organizers of the Sutta-pitaka found the water snake story more compelling and named the sutta after the snake and not the raft. Go figure.
It turns out there is some disagreement as to exactly what the raft parable is trying to tell us, and the water snake story ties into that. In the snake story, a man picks up a water snake by the tail instead of by the proper way, by the head, the way the wildlife experts on the Discovery Channel always do. Of course, the snake gives the man a venomous bite, and he was very sorry and probably died. The moral of this story is that if we "grasp" the dharma improperly, we could fall into all kinds of spiritual dangers.