Friday, October 15, 2010

Core Values (pt 2)

"Be good.”

In the first session of this diatribe I examined a few of my own ideas about teaching dharma to kids, specifically how best to expose them to some of the basic Abhidharma concepts of interdependence and cause-and-effect. It’s what happened to be on my mind, but truly, teaching my kids the “science” — to abuse a term — of Dharma is not something I spend much time thinking on.
As much as I wish my parents had raised me with an understanding of nidanas, ayatanas, etc., I’m much more interested in teaching these guys how to feel good about themselves, work with their difficulties, share friendship, value people-over-things, find joy in their day... all of that stuff; leave the real Dharma instruction to a karmically-suited teacher of an authentic lineage. My list is really not a whole lot different from non-Buddhist parents is it?
Like I said before, kids learn by example, so I might be able to guage my own progress on theirs. (Yikes!) To the extent that I don’t rank as an authentic bodhisattva, such that they would simply learn by watching, it’s been very helpful (for my side) to teach them what a bodhisattva “ought” to act like. I can say there’s not much in the world quite like having your 8-yr old stare you down arms akimbo and say, “so much for PATIENCE!!!” [sigh....]

What Would Daddy Do?

The Mahayana ideal of “holding back” from attaining personal liberation, in order to help others — all others — finds natural expression in the ease with which we sacrifice for our children. Just as with the idea of “all beings as mothers,” maybe we can take “all beings as our children” (figuratively) as a measure of how we should treat them. The pedagogical aspect may be out of place in normal relationships, but the concern-for-others bit may be very close to the mark, depending on your level of clinging.
[Excellent subject for a future blog!]
But it's just a seed. All beings take care of "their own" — nothing particularly Buddhist about that. We have to apply that care and feeling that their well-being is more important than our own, and translate it to how we treat others, especially those that slight us. Our little teachers can help us get the ball rolling, but it has to roll much further than the house.

How can we bring our children more fully into our practice?
Who’s teaching whom here?

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