Ethics and parents

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
identification
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Ethics and parents

Post by identification »

My father that I never met recently contacted me after 21 years. He is planning on visiting for my birthday. In Buddhism I'm told that parents are very important. However, the buddha has also recommended no friendship with fools. He seems to care about me, but the issue is his long history of crime, drugs, violence, gangs, long prison sentences, fascination with guns, family members being murdered, basically hell on earth. Now I don't look down on him or anything, but I'm worried this may be a hindrance to my practice. Any advice?
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Ben
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by Ben »

Open your heart.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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SarathW
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by SarathW »

See this as a great opportunity.
It is great to see that there is a re-union after such a long time.
Practice Brahama Vihara towards him.
He will be a changed man.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
santa100
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by santa100 »

From AN 2.31:
"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."
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Kim OHara
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by Kim OHara »

santa100 wrote:From AN 2.31:
"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."
With all due respect to the dhamma, this hardly applies to the OP, who has "never met" his/her father. When the Buddha speaks of the parent/child relationship it is always (as far as I know) in the context of parents who have nurtured the child from infancy onwards.
In some communities, the man considered the real father of a child is the one who has carried out that nurturing role, whether he is the biological father or not, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

That said, I hope the meeting goes well but I suggest that you shouldn't expect too much from it. You may discover where some of your physical traits come from, but personality and interests are shaped more by upbringing than by genetics so you may not have a lot in common in that way. You will meet as strangers who hope to get along well - almost like meeting a friend of a friend.

:namaste:
Kim
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mikenz66
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by mikenz66 »

Though it will obviously be a cause for some anxiety leading up to the meeting, I think it is worthwhile to do what Ben says: Open your heart. My first meeting with my father was after about 30 years (my parents separated when I was a couple of years old). I'd suggest meeting somewhere neutral, so if there really is an issue you can just walk away, but mostly I'd be positive, and take the expression of interest as a good sign.

:anjali:
Mike
santa100
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by santa100 »

Kim Ohara wrote:With all due respect to the dhamma, this hardly applies to the OP, who has "never met" his/her father. When the Buddha speaks of the parent/child relationship it is always (as far as I know) in the context of parents who have nurtured the child from infancy onwards.
In some communities, the man considered the real father of a child is the one who has carried out that nurturing role, whether he is the biological father or not, and that makes a lot of sense to me.
But there's nothing in AN 2.31 that supports your assumption here. AN 2.31 states:
"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father.
Notice it plainly says "Your mother & father". It does not say: "Your mother & father, who have "nurtured the child from infancy onwards". So imho, the sutta does apply to the OP.
Dan Rooney
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by Dan Rooney »

Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world
If you have never met your father (or mother), I'm not sure how that would be true.
santa100
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by santa100 »

Dan Rooney wrote:
Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world
If you have never met your father (or mother), I'm not sure how that would be true.
Even in the worst case scenario, a parent might not care for the child, might not nourish the child, but still introduce the child to this world. As a result, basic logic still indicates one spends at least 1/3 his effort to repay his parents per the sutta.
Dan Rooney
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by Dan Rooney »

Well, "introduce the child to this world" could mean various things, one of which is 'provide half the genetic material for' but in that case (and assuming that those conditions are cumulative and each is individually sufficient to impose an equal fraction of total responsibility, and that is not exactly a given) you have 1/3 responsibility to an anonymous sperm donor, which I rather doubt reflects the intent of the passage. Kim's interpretation seems somewhat preferable to this kind of tail-chasing.
SarathW
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by SarathW »

Buddha new that there are spontaneously born beings in this world as well.
In that case care taker can be the teacher. (some may call the parent)
According to Buddhism there are duties to be performed by a student to the teacher as well.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
plwk
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by plwk »

He is planning on visiting for my birthday.
So? It's your birthday event right? Get the hint? If he ever forces his presence, like any other uninvited stranger, then call the police.
Now I don't look down on him or anything, but I'm worried this may be a hindrance to my practice
Then, don't allow such 'hindrances' to affect you then until such time you are ready to deal with it, head on, which for the moment, it's clearly obvious that you're not... so why force it? Until then, get on with life, you deserve to live it to the fullest...
Sanjay PS
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by Sanjay PS »

I think the Tathaghat set a very good example . The gratitude was expressed to both the Mothers .

True , the Mothers were of sterling quality and virtue , but the troubles which identification has mentioned of his Father , i am sure , we once must have had these kinds of troubles , if not more , in the cycle of life . And who knows, about what the future will bring ..........

As toddlers learning to walk on the path of Dhamma , i think it is important for us to understand in just opening our hearts , and in not carrying forward any kind of prejudice or grudges ( which wonderfully identification has none ) . Yes , cultivating good company is of paramount importance while trying to realize and understand Dhamma , hence giving Metta is a most welcoming and soothing balm in healing wounded hearts.

sanjay
The Path of Dhamma

The path of Dhamma is no picnic . It is a strenuous march steeply up the hill . If all the comrades desert you , Walk alone ! Walk alone ! with all the Thrill !!

U S.N. Goenka
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Mkoll
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by Mkoll »

mikenz66 wrote:Though it will obviously be a cause for some anxiety leading up to the meeting, I think it is worthwhile to do what Ben says: Open your heart. My first meeting with my father was after about 30 years (my parents separated when I was a couple of years old). I'd suggest meeting somewhere neutral, so if there really is an issue you can just walk away, but mostly I'd be positive, and take the expression of interest as a good sign.

:anjali:
Mike
I agree, especially about the expression of interest.

I hope all goes well!
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
shaunc
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Re: Ethics and parents

Post by shaunc »

Good luck with the meeting. Box clever & don't drop your hands.
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