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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 48 understandably, we want to spare our children from the in- sanity of the world around them. We want them to think criti- cally, judge correctly, value life highly, choose non-aggression religiously, and read labels skeptically. Moreover, we want them to do as we do, and think what we think. This is where all prob- lems arise. Make understanding and fairness priorities, as well as flexibility and harmony. Dogen warns us to discern the difference between imparting and imposing. our task is not only to point out the insanity of the world to our children, but also to spare them from our own. We mind our children best by minding ourselves first. When we do that, we will always know when to step forward and when to step back. a clue: it’s almost always time to step back, to observe our own reactions and slow down before we respond to our children from the flashpoint of anger or the impulse of fear. When we err, as we inevitably will, we have the opportunity to atone and restore harmony. a conscientious parent will have many occasions to practice saying, “i’m sorry.” no matter what the particulars of a situation, no matter who did what to whom, atonement puts the world back together again. What a powerful lesson to give freely to our children: that we lose nothing when we cease blaming others and take sole responsibility for peace. Have great compassion and great empathy toward the assembly. We nearly always think we are being compassionate toward our children. after all, we love them fiercely. We would do anything for them. but true compassion arises in the absence of thought, often appearing as the absence of doing. Parenthood is without question one of the hardest jobs in the world, made harder because we judge ourselves on the anticipat- ed outcome of our efforts. We might believe our task is to create a better child, a smarter child, or a more successful child. This focus on the unknowable and unpredictable future blinds us to the marvel that already appears before us. like all of us, children are creation itself: spontaneous, dynamic, and miraculous. When we liberate ourselves from the idea of success, we liberate our