When we enter into the responsibilities of parenthood we welcome another sentient being into our mind-stream and open our mandala of practice to a fledgling life. This is no small responsibility, no momentary hefting of weight to be placed down later. We shoulder the burden of teaching this emerging mind how to interact with, and be prepared for, this world – This life of Samsara – This life of fleeting joy and momentary happiness.
This life of parent and teacher is a difficult one. Unlike a classroom or lecture hall, there is no bell that rings to end the session. No rush of students out of your room and out of your life for the night. In parenting there is a set of eyes that is constantly gazing upon you and absorbing everything that you do. You don’t teach this student by PowerPoint presentation and bullet-points or through allegory and metaphor.
This one is learning directly from your example. This one is learning directly from your practice. Just as through conception your genes (for better or worse) are passed on to your child; as they grow and develop, your karma is passed right along as they absorb, imitate and evolve.
I am not presenting the following outline as rules or guidelines to successful parenting. They are only examples from my own life on what worked, what failed and what continues to occur as I struggle with my practice as a Buddhist, as a parent and as a human being. They are a reference point for my practice outside of the zendo and in my home, my head and my self. Each separate but connected, an ocean of gray waves that can support my children in compassion and equanimity or pull them off-shore with anger and stress. I relied heavily on the conceptual framework from the Engaged School of Buddhist Practice, as I hope they do not mind, especially since I can think of little that is more engaged then parenting.