Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

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Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby dzogchungpa » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:27 pm

From http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2006/summer/reflecting.html:

The Buddha once said (Anguttara Nikaya 2:32) that if you were to carry your parents around with you for their whole lives—your father on one shoulder and your mother on the other—even to the point where they were losing their faculties and their excrement was running down your back, this would not repay your debt of gratitude to them. But you could repay the debt if your parents were not virtuous and you established them in virtue; if they were not wise and you established them in wisdom; if they were stingy and you established them in generosity; if they had no faith in the spiritual path and you led them to it.

One day, many years ago, I spoke of this teaching very matter-of-factly with my mother, assuming that she would be as impressed as I was with how highly the Buddha praised the role that parents play in one’s life. She responded, as she almost invariably did anytime I tried to spout some spiritual statement, by saying, “What utter balls!” She is very good at keeping me level, as I can get somewhat airy-fairy at times. Her point was that it isn’t a one-way process. She said, “Why do you talk about it in terms of being in debt? What could be more wonderful and satisfying than bringing children into the world and watching them grow? It isn’t like a job that you need to be paid for.” I was really impressed by that.
ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུཏྟ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་སྭཱཧཱ༔
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby Simon E. » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:06 pm

Ajahn Amaro's mother is quite right. When the time comes I certainly don't expect my offspring to carry me around while I shit down their back.
If and when I reach that stage of decreptitude I hope that they will find me a good care home where I can be tended to by professionals.
But then I am not a citizen of ancient Bharat, and what citizens of India experienced 2500 years ago differs in many ways from my life.
Fortunately. :smile:
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:24 am

He points out an interesting similarity between Ajahn Chah and Ramana Maharshi which I had not noticed before:
Ajahn Chah was a highly accomplished being, and when he started at Wat Pah Pong, one of his first disciples was his mother. She moved out of her village, was ordained as a nun, and went to live in the forest with him and his cluster of monks. When she died, Ajahn Chah made a great ceremony of her funeral; it was a huge affair, and he ordained eighty or ninety people during the event to make merit for her. Later, the main temple at Wat Pah Pong was built on the exact spot where his mother was cremated.

Sri Ramana Maharshi was also said to be a supremely detached being; he was famed for being so equanimous that rats sometimes nibbled on his legs when he sat in samadhi, and he allowed doctors to treat him because it made them feel better. Like Ajahn Chah, Sri Ramana’s mother became his disciple and went to live at the bottom of Arunachala Mountain, while he was in a cave at the top. After she died, he too built his ashram on the place where she was cremated.

So here are these two highly accomplished, extraordinarily detached beings who both built their temples on their mothers’ ashes. Of course this may have no significance whatsoever, but to me it indicates that they’re not saying, “All sankharas (all conditioned things) are impermanent, my mother is just a formation in nature like any other, and it’s no big deal.” There’s a mysterious twinning here of both the realization of ultimate truth and the recognition of the unique quality of that personal connection on the material plane. It’s almost as if the mother is the primordial symbol of the source of reality, just as she is the source of life on the physical plane. After all, in the West we freely use the term “Mother Nature,” and “nature” is another word for “dhamma.” So perhaps it is natural and perfectly appropriate to accord this being with whom we have a unique relationship a special position among all the dimensions of life that we experience.
ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུཏྟ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་སྭཱཧཱ༔
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby cooran » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:14 am

Very interesting, thank you!

With metta,
Chris
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:23 am

My vote remains with Ajahn Amaro's mother Dzogchenpa. The Dharma for us now does not depend on the importation of Asian family fealty, ancestor worship, or other manifestations of folk religion which evolved in the absence of modern social sensibilities. .
Of course we have a responsibility to our parents. Of course we should be grateful to them.
But in this and a thousand other ways we are not our ancestors.
Things change.
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby gad rgyangs » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:42 pm

I'm with the Buddha on this one.
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:14 pm

I think they both make a strong case.
ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུཏྟ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་སྭཱཧཱ༔
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:20 pm

Well mum will need a good strong case to take to the care home.
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Re: Ajahn Amaro's mother on the debt to one's parents

Postby Madeliaette » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:06 pm

I must admit that my connection to Buddhism has changed my personal view on my parents....

If I had not read, studied, learned and practiced Buddhism, I would have totally turned my back/ignored my father's predicament. Because I learned of the value put upon one's parents in the Buddhist faith, it made me take a second look - consider matters I would not have even thought of before - and 'know' that the major decision I took in late 2009 was the right one. (I left my home in Australia and flew back to England where I was born to take care of my elderly father after he had spent a spell in hospital following a fall.) Many times, when I think of the problems I now face - having since become the FT/sole carer, and his health having gone downhill post a bowel operation/mobility problems/diagnosis of dementia, - it is the attitude shown in Buddhism - so prominent in the above quote - that keeps me here rather than running off to a Dad-free life and 'dumping' him in a care home. I can keep trying to help Dad understand reality, wisdom, truth, while helping him find peace by living in his own home for as long as possible and hopefully sow some seeds of progress... Yet, i can also relate to the piece pointing out that being a parent is a delight.

For me, personally, I think the Buddhist emphasis put on respecting/appreciating/repaying ones parents has helped me be able to take care of my father in his old age - whereas I would just have stayed happily overseas, living my life, not caring at all what became of Dad in his latter years, waiting on him to die to 'gain' a house as inheritor, had i not learned the importance in the Buddhist faith of a parent....

That's just my own perspective...
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