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Lions Roar : January 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2012 43 time as them. They were seven and nine years younger than me, so bedtime would come when it was still light and I’d stare at the ceiling, sleepless. Later, after Dad and his second wife started hav- ing problems, he stopped buying me plane tickets to Calgary. He visited instead, and we played Trivial Pursuit and he took me out to practice my driving. I didn’t feel, though, that he really came to see me. He stayed at his mother’s place and spent most of the time drinking wine and moonshine with his siblings and cousins. As I grew up, I inherited my father’s skepticism but not the other pillar of his philosophy—the belief that we continue through our children. With a gulf so wide between us, I couldn’t see myself as a continuation of him. Of course, I wasn’t denying biology; I understood that fifty percent of my genetic informa- tion came from him. But so what? Genetics could explain my cleft chin, not who I was. After all, my father had another three children with his second wife and one more with his third, and all of us progeny were uniquely ourselves. One of my half-sisters was so angry with Dad that she refused to have contact with him. According to Thay, if we’re angry with our father or mother, we have to breathe in and out, and find reconciliation. This is the only path to happiness, and if we can live a happy, beautiful life, our father and mother in us will be more beautiful also. “During sitting meditation,” says Thay, “I like to talk to my father inside. One day I told him, ‘Daddy, we have succeeded.’ That morning, when I practiced, I felt that I was so free, so light, I did not have any desire, any craving. I wanted to share that with my father, so I talked to my father inside: ‘Daddy, we are free.’” “I also talk to my mother,” continues Thay, “because I know that my mother has not really died—she continues on in me. When I practiced walking meditation in India with a group of a few thousand people on the largest boulevard of New Delhi, I invited my mother to walk with me. I said, ‘Mommy, let’s walk together. Use my feet, but also yours. My feet are the continu- ation of your feet.’ So, mother and son, we enjoyed walking in New Delhi. I invited also my father to walk with me. Then later on, I invited my brother and my grandmother and the Buddha and my teacher. The walk was so wonderful.” PHOTOBYIANSMITH/THEVANCOUVERSUN Thich Nhat Hanh during a pause in walking meditation When I heal my wounds, it heals my father’s, and it heals the wounds of future generations. The cycle stops.