Many strange posts rolling around during the holidays. Most revolving around family sitting around the dinner table talking about how weird it is that you’re Buddhist or that you spend half the day meditating or chanting gathas or whatever.
I thought that if you distilled the syrupy sweetness of the recent post over at the Interdepedance Project into something actually resembling commonsense (or rum) you do get one smidget of wisdom…
Be willing to accept their non-acceptance of your practice. While many of us would love our families to wholly support us and even join us on the cushion, get that it’s not necessary for them to approve. If they do accept it, it might not happen in the way you expect, and it might take longer than you imagined.
Accepting non-acceptance is hard, pure and simple. But if you are actually whining about the fact that your parents still don’t “get you” then grow up. Unless, of course, you are 16. In which case it is completely OK. Go listen to some sob music in your room until dinner is ready.
However, if you are an adult, you need to shut up. Seriously, what did you expect? Fucking roses? People have had to spell out much more serious shit to their parents/family then a change in religion.
Do you want to know how to be a good Buddhist during the holidays? Simple. Make being a son or daughter, spouse, or father or mother your practice. Don’t be a freakin’ snob. If your family goes to church and prays to Jesus then go with them and engage in their spirituality for a few hours. If they pray at the table then pray with them. Because at least you are with your family. Be mindful of that. Does your father think you are an asshole? Fine. Be mindful and thankful that you have a father that thinks you are an asshole.
If they are atheists or agnostics then don’t do anything. Why would you have to do something anyway? Do I feel the need to do prostrations just so my parents or family know that I am a Buddhist? No. I can practice in a way that still makes me a “good” Buddhist without ever having to single myself out from the rest of my family. Is this easy? No, not always. Do I always do this? No, but I learn from my mistakes. Practice makes perfect, right?
Let the people around you engage with your practice the way that is comfortable to them. You work on your own practice as the situation permits. Don’t get attached to the way you do it or whether you are percieved as a Buddhist. Just practice. Engage in their practice, even if you don’t agree with it. Basically, that is what you are asking of them.
If your practice is moving you away from your family maybe you need to look at your practice and not at your family. Which is more important? Are they actually separate things? The more I look into it, my practice is my family and my family is my practice.
And remember, maybe it isn’t your family moving away from you. Maybe it is you moving away from your family.
postscript: Just if you were wondering my family knows about my practice and they engage in it as much as they are comfortable with. For that I thank them. They also read this blog…I don’t know if I am comfortable with that just yet.