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(this post is going to be a bit haphazard as my thoughts are far from organized)
well, i’m spending a few days at the coast with my mother and her husband. I haven’t done that in, hmm, a really really long time. Lately I’ve been feeling a desire to reconnect more with my mother, for no particular reason that I can discern, and this little vacation sort of just happened. It’s not easy.
Many teachers in the west say that being with your parents is really a test of your dharma practice. It’s definitely interesting. I usually get really tense, jittery, generally just preferring to be anywhere else but there. That’s probably why I don’t visit her very often.
So, instead of fighting it, perhaps I can just accept that this is hard for me. I know it’s hard for many people. It brings up a lot of stuff, i get to see all the things i dislike about myself being right there in full view. painful. yet i can’t and don’t want to avoid it anymore. but also i need to take it gently. i gave myself permission to leave sooner if it’s going to be too hard. We don’t spend whole days together, i go on my own walks, they prefer other beaches that I do. Still, we’re together. Tomorrow evening we’ll go to Piran. Little steps, little steps.
I see I’m not really here, i’m distant, not too communicative. Yet I haven’t left yet. There’s a lot of healing that needs to happen, lots of forgiving. As Cheri Huber says, if our parents could change, they would certainly have done so by now. So, accepting. Embracing. Seeing the pain and suffering that’s present and not turning away.
She’s quite sick. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but she’s been chronically sick for the last 15 years. It’s getting worse. I need to come to terms with her impermanence. She will not last forever. Can I say that I love her, while there is still time?
That I wish she would do many things differently that she has, but that I understand. even accept?
Can I appreciate all the things she’s done for me, instead of focusing on things she couldn’t do?
I feel if I don’t do this, if i continue rejecting her, I’m rejecting part of myself. We’re not separate. Thich Nhat Hanh is adamant about this. He said one day: “How can you hope to communicate with the Buddha, if you can’t communicate with your parents?” He also said that Vietnamese Zen can be called the Buddhism of ancestors, while Indian Buddhism could be called Buddhism of Emptiness. So, a big deal put on ancestors.
He also talked about healing the suffering of our parents in ourselves. They transmit to us their suffering and it’s up to us to transform it. I used to resent this idea. I didn’t want to have to do anything with my parents, wanted to get away as much as possible. Yet he insisted. And kept insisting. It’s still haunting me.
So, here I am. And in a moment I will post this post and go back inside to rejoin them, and we’ll be watching a contest for the best slovenian song - what joy! ;-)
This moment, this is my way of fulfilling my bodhisattva vow - healing the suffering right here and now.