Parents and the Dhamma

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Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Mkoll » Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:35 pm

Friends,

Thank you Dhamma Wheel for providing a virtual place to discuss the Dhamma.

My question: how can I go about showing my parents' the Dhamma? I love them very much and I don't want to speak ill of them, but as my motivation is to help them discriminate the essential from the inessential, I must give some background about myself and my parents so as to receive more pointed advice.

I am going to community college in California and living with them. I used to lead a depraved life: using drugs, holding ill will towards everyone including myself and my parents, holding nihilistic views, etc. Only recently have I truly realized the extent of my folly and taken refuge in the Triple Gem and the five precepts. Already, with only a month or so of practice, have I begun to see the benefits visible in this very life of practicing the Dhamma.

In terms of wealth, my parents are in the top 1% of Americans. My father was an accountant then a top business executive and my mother worked as an accountant until she had kids. Neither of them work and they live lives of leisure though my father still trades stocks and does other financial things at his office at home. Their minds often attend to money and saving money: coupons, deals, etc., even with paltry amounts of less than a dollar. They love food, going out to many different kinds of restaurants and cooking at home. They are irreligious; my father has himself said that he thinks that death is annihilation

The Buddha said that carrying your mother and father on your back for 100 years wouldn't repay them for what they've done for you. But by giving the gift of the Dhamma, one can repay them. I gave each of them a book last Christmas: In The Buddha's Words by Bhikku Bodhi. I try to set a good example and attend to a mind of loving-kindness and speak of the Dhamma when the opportunity arises. Perhaps I am being impatient, but soon I will be going off to college and will see my parents less.

What else can I do to repay them for all they have done for my own well-being?

Thank you
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Peace,
James
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby dagon » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:15 pm

Hi Mkool

I was told many yeas ago by a Hindu sadhu that preaching to ones parents was rarely successful, lol. As a parent i can tell you that i now think he was right.

The best, maybe to only way to help your parents in the manner you wish is to preach through your actions (by example). If your parents see you change and can identify the positive changes as being some thing that comes from the Dhamma then they will think more positively about Buddhist teachings. Remember that for most the journey that they are taking in this life is but part of a long journey of many lives. If your life and actions make your parents have a positive attitude to Buddhism in this life then there is more chance that they will adopt the path in later lives. Any small movement in this direction is a major reward to them.

The way that i hope that my kids will reward me as a parent is for them to be happy and make a success of their live - how one defines success differs from person to person. Showing parents respect is a way that you can help to repay the debt - ask and respect their advice is often a good idea. I would be careful to ask their advice where you believe their values and Buddhist teachings agree, lol.

metta
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Ajisai » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:55 pm

Hello,

I agree with Paul. If people surrounding you realize you seem happier and a better person since you became a Buddhist, they will naturally grow an interest towards it. But if you push it to them, they might react in the opposite way.
Funny thing is I watched the following Dhamma talk video today, and a part of it speaks about the same topic. I advice you watch it, it is a good talk.



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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Mkoll » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:20 pm

Remember that for most the journey that they are taking in this life is but part of a long journey of many lives. If your life and actions make your parents have a positive attitude to Buddhism in this life then there is more chance that they will adopt the path in later lives. Any small movement in this direction is a major reward to them.


Thank you for that, dagon. I needed to hear that. Patience is indeed the highest austerity.

Thank you for the video, Ajisai. I find Ajahn Brahm's teachings refreshing and inspiring, for example his 2 bad bricks story in Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung.

Metta :heart:
:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Samma » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:58 pm

Show good example, try to strike up a conversation and answer any questions they might have, maybe ask them to read some books, and to let you know what they think because this is important to you. But trying to force something on someone else will probably end badly.

An idea is to try to convey the idea of what the dhamma is about vs what the world is typically about. Most people are highly concerned with whats called the eight worldly dhammas: wealth/loss of wealth, status/loss of status, praise/criticism, pleasure/pain. Doesn't life have more to offer than that? Emphasize that the dhamma is about things like generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, persistence, endurance, truth, determination, goodwill, and equanimity. And that these things are better for happiness. Over time they may come to realize the dhamma has a lot of value.
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby dagon » Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:57 am

Mkoll wrote: Patience is indeed the highest austerity. :


I don't think that i agree with that statement. Patience in my view is a blessing and a quality of mind that will help you advance with your practice and reduce your suffering.

If you are impatience then you are always striving for what is in the future but the future is often other than what we expect; when our expectations are not met then we suffer. If you are impatience then you will not be mindful, not living in the present, not paying appropriate attention and will not be skillful with you intentions, actions and words. This will cause suffering for yourself and others.

If you are patience then you will be able to leave aside that which you can not accurately predict and control. You will be free to live in the present and attend to those things that it is appropriate for you to attend to as a householder. You will be able to be mindful in your words and action. You and those around you will have more peace and happiness this is not an austerity.

metta
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Mkoll » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:55 am

Hi Paul,

Forgive me, I posted with impatience :tongue: and didn't provide a reference. :oops:

Dhammapada 184:
Enduring patience is the highest austerity.

-source

Khanti paramam tapo titikkha

-source

From the PTS dictionary (source)

khanti (patience, forbearance, forgiveness)
paramam (highest, excellent, superior, best)
tapo (religious austerity, ascetic practice, self-chastisement)
titikkha (endurance, forgiveness, long-suffering)

This is from my limited understanding of Pali and using the internet (much more understanding in this regard than with Pali :lol:); I welcome correction and clarification.

Metta

James
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James
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby dagon » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:16 pm

Hi James

It was not the lack of a reference that confused me, rather omitting the word Enduring from the quote

Enduring patience is an austerity but patience is a blessing - some thing positive in anyone's practice.

The point that i was trying to make (i am way to careless with English) is that in the situation you said that you were impatient. When when some one is impatient then they have to endure patient.

If you listen to the talk that was referenced in an earlier post and listen to the start where Ajahn Brahm is talking about planning before he gets into his subject for the night. Not surprisingly he explains it so much better i every could :shrug:

Thanks for the topic and references - you have help to shape my studies for the next few days. Having now listen to the talk and realized that there is material that i have not revisited for too long.

All the best with your studies and the great service that you are trying to give to your parents.

metta
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Mkoll » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:42 pm

Paul,

You are absolutely right in pointing out that "endurance" is an essential part of the statement. :anjali:

Thank you for deepening my understanding of the Dhamma. I plan to keep The Dhammapada BPS pocket size edition by Venerable Buddharakkhita Thera in my pocket while I'm out and about. Eventually, I hope to memorize it! :jawdrop:

Thank you for support and good studying to you as well! :reading:

James
Peace,
James
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby robertk » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:24 am

just to note that in the sutta you gave there is no mention of 'enduring'. it simply has khanti, patience.
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby ricebowl » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:23 pm

Ain't sure whether this helps, in 2012 I referred regularly to the Bhaya Sutta

"Bhaya Sutta: Dangers" (AN 3.62), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 3 July 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html . Retrieved on 20 September 2013.
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Re: Parents and the Dhamma

Postby Anagarika » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:38 pm

Mkoll:

I understand that the only person to whom a Bhikkhu may wai or bow is a senior monk or his parents. That tells you something about the place that the Dhamma holds for homage to one's parents. I believe it is possible to express this gratitude through one's own practice, rather than trying to teach one's parents Dhamma. Through your own practice, and adherence to the Path, you can make merit and dedicate this to your parents, as well as demonstrate for them in the skillfulness of your daily life that they are being respected and appreciated. As you cultivate for yourself a healthy, happy and ethical life, this can be (even outside a Buddhist context) an outward manifestation of your parent's dedication to your upbringing, and it will bring them a lot of happiness and good feelings. Being very intelligent people, they might one day see this Dhamma as being the light that guides you and see the merit in the Buddha Way.
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