About Your Mother

I have a read a Chinese translation of the Bodhicharyavatara. In it I read that your mother is very precious and that if you act against her commands you will be born in hell. In Dharma it is said that if your mother won’t let you take ordination, it is forbidden to you, yet there are many who have done so. How should we characterize this? Please advise us.

In general, as I explained before in the context of Bodhichitta, there is no being among the six realms of samsara that has not been our mother. We grew up thanks to their great kindness before, just like we grew up with the help of the kind care of our present mother in this life. We must realize all of the stages of the meditation, recognizing beings as our mothers, remembering their kindness, and so forth. It goes without saying that we should cultivate these with regard to our own mother of this life, thinking of her kindness, returning her kindness, and so on. Thus, returning the kindness of others is both a spiritual practice and a central principal of a civilized society. Even Buddha went to the realm of the gods to return the kindness of his mother and taught the Sutra On The Return Of Kindness. While it is probably not the case that Buddha had not been able to return his mother’s kindness before, through this action he showed us, his followers, that we must return the kindness of our mothers. We must therefore care for our parents with love, respecting and venerating them.

Especially when they are old and become sick, children should nurse their parents and provide them good medical treatment. I have heard of terrible things occurring in some countries of Europe and elsewhere. When their parents become advanced in age, their children don’t look after them, but take their childhood home and property away from their parents, even poisoning them! These are extremely deplorable actions. Whatever form religion takes, in essence it must always move in the direction of kindness, peace, altruism and so on.

Having a family household, it is obvious that sooner or later you must become a parent and that those who are your children at first must later in life become parents themselves. That makes what Buddhists call the natural law of karmic cause and effect sometimes happen very quickly! If you don’t serve your present parents well, as a karmic result ripening later in life, it is quite possible that you may experience an exhaustion of your merit, become destitute, and see your children cause you a lot of trouble. For these reasons, whether you practice Dharma or not, it is a very important responsibility of children to serve and take care of their parents well. If you care for and serve your parents with gentle kindness in word and deed, later in life you yourself will have great merit and enjoyments, your children will help you, and so forth.

My Lama Kyabje Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche said,

It was taught that if children respect their parents
They receive merit, so give your dear, kind parents
The first food and clothing, and venerate them,
Speaking gentle words, O meditators!

Therefore, young people of today, please pay attention! When we think about things from the point of view of the Dharma, some parents make obstacles for their children’s practice of Dharma, while some provide good conditions for their children’s practice of Dharma. It depends on how strongly the parents’ thinking accords with Dharma. In any case, Patrul Rinpoche said that when obstacles occur while you are properly practicing the holy Dharma, this occurs irrelative of the friend or foe that seems to be creating the problem; rather it is the work of mara. When we practice Dharma purely we must decide for ourselves. Take yourself for example, if your were to take ordination, become a fully qualified nun and practice Dharma purely, there would be no higher service you could provide for your parents, no better way of returning their kindness. Even if that meant breaking your mother’s command at the moment, ultimately you would be serving her greatest welfare.

I wonder if you understand this? Our opportunity to gather here today to teach and receive Dharma is really something to be extremely joyful about! It is difficult to explain it all and you can’t suddenly understand everything through this one short session of teaching, but everyone is implanted with an imprint for bringing samsaric existence to an end, and we accumulate a huge amount of meritorious energy through our giving and attending to Dharma teachings. Again, this is something to be very happy about! We must continue our teachings. Remember, the questions about Tantra, Shamata, and Vipassyana will be addressed in the next session of teachings.

Now we must dedicate the roots of virtue created by giving and attending to teachings of Dharma for the benefit of the six realms’ sentient beings wherever they exist throughout all of space! If roots of virtue are not dedicated they become exhausted and disappear. As it is said,

Not dedicating, mistakenly dedicating,
Proclaiming to others, developing regret,
These four cause virtue to be exhausted.

Therefore, before our previous merit meets the conditions that would exhaust it, we should dedicate together today all of the roots of virtue we have accumulated since beginningless time with this verse of dedication and any others that you know:

Through this merit may I become all-knowing,
Defeating all of the enemy faults,
And may I liberate beings from the sea of samsara,
Disturbed by waves of birth, aging, sickness and death!

Tashi Delegs!