Every once in a while, I will get hit with an avalanche of ideas, each one of which could make an entire post. But if I waited to do each one individually, I would never finish. So when this happens, I think for now the best bet is I just briefly list the main idea of each one. Perhaps later I will have the opportunity to develop each idea further.
So here we go:
- All praise to my mother in law! Normally people have problems with their mother in law, but I count myself really lucky. She is so unbelievably kind. When my wife and I first started dating, she took good care of us and always took us out to eat and spend time together which helped ensure we stay together. She has always been there for us every time there has been a particularly difficult phase of our life. She is absolutely fantastic with our kids. She is one of the most giving individuals I have ever known (in both absolute and relative terms). She has mastered “cleaning” (an incredibly important skill and practice), which has passed on to my wife and to my eldest daughter. She has had an incredibly hard life, but has somehow managed to keep herself together. All of the international dimension of our lives is ultimately thanks to her. In many ways, she has done more to shape our lives than anybody else. We all have faults and problems, but these are insignificant compared to the shining light that is my mother in law!
- If I look at my life from a macro perspective, I see a couple of different phases. I was moving along in the direction of career with an interest in international things, I then had an 13 year period of my life which can best be described as “picking up my kids.” We apparently had three beings to pick up in the Geneva area, and then we were quickly slung shot around the world to Texas to pick up two more, and then we were brought back to Europe. I really feel as if Dorje Shugden was just arranging things to help us pick up the beings we are supposed to take with us on our life adventure. During this time, I was also full-out in the Dharma in terms of my direct activities. This is part of the karmic conditions of picking up my kids. Then, after we picked them up, we now are back on our life adventure where we will take them through a foreign service life (which is the conditions for my practice and training).
- Casual friendships. If I look at my entire life, I have never really been very skilled when it comes to casual friends. I am good with the “work colleague” style relationship, I am good with family style relationships, but very weak when it comes to casual friends. I have a few, but I am not much of a social bee and don’t really have much desire to be so. This is a weakness that I need to learn to overcome. Because I am like this, I recreate the same behavior patterns in my kids. This is not helpful for them. We have a good friend named Isabelle who is a social queen. She is friends with everybody. She make a point of getting involved in the lives of all of her friends (in a good way) and she brings her kids along. As a result, her kids also learn how to be social and be friends with people. We have failed to do that with our kids. As a result, they don’t know how to cultivate casual friendships either. This is something we need to work on.
- With our kids, what we say has almost no importance; all that really matters is how we are. If we are slobs, our kids will be slobs; if we are clean, our kids will become clean. If we are lazy, our kids will be lazy; if we are hard-working, our kids will become hard-working. If we are angry, our kids will become angry; if we are accepting, our kids will become accepting. If we are not accepting of our limitations, our kids will develop their own forms of self-hatred; if we are able to laugh at ourselves and our faults, our kids will develop a balanced attitude towards getting better. If we allow things to stop us, our kids will do the same; if we plough through whatever obstacles that stand in our way, our kids will do the same. Our words as parents are important, but they are maybe only 5-10% of the story. The rest is how we are. Look at ourselves: we have become like our parents even though we have resolved to never do so! Our kids will become in large measure whatever we are, so we need to make sure we do things right ourselves.
- There is nothing my eldest daughter wants more than to spend time with my family in Spokane, in particular my aunt, uncle and cousin with the ten wonderful boys. It is so important for her development that we give her as much time as possible with them. That will shape her into a pure and good person. Likewise, it is important for our other kids.
- My middle child is really funny. She has the most adult thoughts (good adult, not the other kind… 🙂 ), and when they come out of the mouth of a 3.5 year old, it is really funny.
- I can’t physically tell my twins apart, but I am really able to see the difference in their personality. It is amazing how they could more or less have the same body, but two completely different minds (well, not completely different, but sufficiently different that you can really notice). One is a monkey, a flirt, a dive in sort of kid; the other is more calm, likes to sit on laps and cuddle and observing. Both are great kids! We got really lucky.
- When I look at both my extended family and that of my wife, the one common denominator (besides them both being good families) is they mostly spend time with each other. They remain in each others lives. They were close and have remained close. They live their own lives, but they do so in proximity to one another so while separate, they are still together. It seems entirely natural that we will do the same and our kids will do the same, placing primary emphasis on family relations. And there is nothing wrong with this.
- The self-generation is like a mould for the clear light, that the more we apply the mould, the more we shape our clear light mind in that aspect until eventually it becomes the agent of our actions. The good thing about the body mandala in particular is because there are so many deities, we get a good feeling of the non-duality of self and others. We are not just the principal deity, but all of the deities. Yet, from a conventional point of view, it is as if they are each different beings. Instead of shaping our clear light mind in the aspect of a samsaric being, we shape it in the aspect of the body mandala (and all of Keajra by extension). Amazing.
- It is not enough to just do whatever the Spiritual Guide advises, we need to take the time to “realize that he is right.” At first, he seems wrong, but that is only because our way of looking at things is itself wrong. But the more we investigate, the more we realize that he is right – about everything. Very often we will think we know better and go down roads that are ill-advised, but eventually we come to realize he was right all along. This is a natural part of the spiritual path. At some point, we realize it is best to just default to doing whatever he advises! It will never steer us wrong. We may misunderstand what he is saying, and therefore mis-apply his advice, but that too is just part of the learning process.