There is no doubt that being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. School, work, friends, no problem. Being a parent, HELP! It is non-stop, we never know what the right thing to do is, everything we do seems to backfire, there is nothing rational about it, and everybody is expected to somehow already know how to do it. And the stakes are high, if you make a mess of things, you literally can ruin your kid’s entire life. We are loathe to ask our own parents to help out, either because we are too proud or they are too busy, too old or just simply too obnoxious to have around! We can’t afford to hire an experienced nanny to help out. So what to do? We need to accept that we don’t know what we are doing, and instead call in for enlightened help!
A wise person once told me, “it is only when you have tried everything else and realized that you can’t do it on your own that you are ready to go for refuge.” Our ability to have the Buddhas raise our children through us depends first and foremost on our have humbly accepted that they would do a far better job than we can.
Wouldn’t it be great to have fully enlightened beings raise our children? They would certainly know how to respond in every situation. They never tire. They have the power to be with our children 24/7, even when we are not around. Most importantly, they have the power to bless their minds. A blessing functions to turn the mind away from wrong paths and towards correct paths. It comes from the inside, where the individual knows from within what the right thing to do is, not the outside like some external control. This is exactly what our kids need! Buddha’s know the past, present and future directly and simultaneously, so they see the big picture and how to prepare our children for the challenges that lie ahead. They have perfect wisdom that knows how to transform any situation into the path. Certain Buddhas have the power to prevent obstacles from arising and to arrange all of the perfect outer and inner conditions so that everything that happens to us becomes a cause of our enlightenment. They are completely selfless and completely reliable. How much better would they be at raising our kids than we are!
So assuming we want them to raise our kids for us, how practically can we bring that about. There are several things we can do:
- When you go to spiritual teachings or study and practice the Dharma, do so with the intention of gaining the realizations necessary to be an enlightened parent for your children. The motivation with which we practice determines the nature of the fruit of our practice. If this is our intention, then as we receive teachings our mind will be blessed in a special way where we understand how to apply what we are learning to becoming a better parent. But we should be careful to not fall into the mistake of listening to the instructions by thinking, “this is what my kid needs to hear and understand.” No, we should listen to the instructions as personal advice for what we need to hear so that we can become a better parent for them.
- Always keep your spiritual guide at your heart. One of the unique qualities of a Buddha is wherever you imagine them, they instantaneously go. And wherever a Buddha goes, they accomplish their function, which is to bestow blessings. In particular, it is taught that the Spiritual Guide is a gateway through which we gain access to ALL of the Buddhas. So by imagining our Spiritual Guide at our heart, we in effect bring all of the Buddhas into our heart. We need to come to view our ordinary body and mind as a vehicle or as tools. They are not us. We mentally hand over our body and mind to the Buddhas, requesting them to work through us to raise our children for us. We might object to having somebody else take over control of our body and mind, but the profound truth is who we think we are does not exist at all, and who we really are is in fact one with all of the Buddhas. They are our true selves, and it is only our ignorance which prevents us from realizing this. So we are not really handing our body and mind over to somebody else, but rather allowing them to come under the control of our true selves.
- Whenever you don’t know what to do, request guidance for what to do. Venerable Geshe-la explained a special method for doing this. We first imagine that all of the Buddhas are at our heart, and we generate strong faith that they are indeed there and have united inseparably with our own root mind. We then generate a very pure compassionate and loving motivation, free from any attachment, that our children be free from all suffering and come to enjoy perfect happiness. In particular, we generate a pure motivation that we be blessed with the wisdom to know how to help and guide our children through whatever difficult time they are facing. While holding this pure motivation and a mind of deep faith, we allow our mind to become completely still and quiet so that we can “hear” the answer to our prayers. Eventually, a plan or image or understanding will arise within our mind. We will understand the problem, know the solution, and see how everything fits together. It will simultaneously feel like an answer that is coming from “somebody else” while at the same time being realized as our own understanding. If at first we don’t get an answer, we can engage in some purification practices, trying to purify all the obstacles to our receiving a reply, we can offer a mandala to accumulate some mert, and then try our request once again. When we get a partial answer, we can then go through this process again and again seeking further clarification until we know exactly what to do and how to do it.
- Post a permanent guard around our children! Some really rich people hire special body guards to be with their children all of the time so that they never get into any danger or trouble. We obviously can’t afford to do this, and our kids would probably come to resent it anyways. But there is alternative, and it is free! There is a special Buddha called a Wisdom Dharma Protector, and his job is to eliminate all obstacles and create the perfect conditions for our enlightenment. Dharma Protectors can be requested to perform this function either for ourselves or for others, such as our children. So we make the request with deep faith and again a pure motivation, “forever and always (meaning 24/7 for the rest of eternity), please always stand watch over my children, protecting them from obstacles and arranging for them the perfect conditions for their swiftest possible enlightenment. Please bless them with the wisdom to always know how to transform any situation into an opportunity for their personal growth.” Then imagine that the Wisdom Dharma Protector emanates a powerful protection circle around our children and everything that appears to their mind is now in fact emanated by the Wisdom Dharma Protector for their benefit. It is important to remember that the Dharma Protector is only interested in our children’s enlightenment, not their comfort! They are not a babysitter or a maid. They will push our children to their limits, giving them unique challenges, but as parents we can know that these situations are exactly what our children need to grow and become better people.
If we do these four things, at worst we will become a much wiser and more effective parent, and at best we will become an open channel through which the Buddhas can directly raise our children. Once we know how to do this with our children, we can then extend the same practice to our intereactions with everybody else. The Buddhas stand ready to help us in every domain of our life, work, family and on the meditation cushion. We simply need to accept we need their help, develop faith in them, generate a pure motivation for receiving their help, and then quiet our mind to be able to receive their guideance. Once we become experienced with this, our daily practice will literally feel like a one-on-one daily session with our Spiritual Guide where he provides us with all the wisdom and guidance we need, both in and out of meditation. This experience later becomes the basis for a very qualified divine pride in our Tantric practice. Eventually this experience transforms into our becoming of one nature with all of the Buddhas, in other words, our own full enlightenment.
Your turn: What is the most difficult situation in your life where you see clearly it would be better to have the Buddhas work through you than to have you deal with it on your own?