Practice with Family

At times it feels like there are two different narratives going on around spiritual practice – the clear, direct, meditative path of becoming peaceful and serene like a Buddha statue; and then what practice is actually like day to day.  One is an ideal that we get to strive for whenever we have time to ourselves and a meditation cushion.  But the other is a reality shared by everyone.  We are not already enlightened – we have attachments, delusions, and expectations, and even if we didn’t we would inevitably be surrounded by people who do!

While it might seem like the interactions with others are the most difficult part of practice, they are also the most visibly rewarding.  Over time we can really see how we start the practice opinionated, controlling and resentful, only to blossom into a caring and empathetic human being.  Nowhere is the transformation more apparent than in our relationship to our family.

Who knows us better, or can push our buttons as well?  The day we were born there were bonds of relationship formed with parents, siblings, and relatives that will endure our entire lives.  And no matter how much we may want the best for them, push our buttons they will!  For if we have found ourselves born into a group of people in this endless swirl of samsara then we have probably been going round and round in family relationships with them for a long, long time, trying to find love and acceptance but often creating divisions.

Last night for the Uposatha, Tahn Pamutto was inspired by the ‘small talk’ conversations of Buddhist practice, the ones that have been overlooked and abbreviated in the major Buddhist texts.  What is the best thing we can do for our family, and how do we understand these seemingly unbreakable bonds so that we can love and let go?

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