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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 83 We may think that mothering is hard work, but Miller draws our attention to the true workhorse in the relationship, the child. A child’s physical transformation is amazing, and it’s a lot of work. We might say that the twos are terrible, but Miller encourages us to stop and look at the two- year-old’s workload. “Oh!” we say, and maybe we’re a little humbler, a little more compassionate to our little one. But we’ll still lose our cool—Zen doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect. We lose our cool be- cause we are human. So when—not if—we lose our cool, our Zen practice is to let go of losing our cool and come back to cen- ter. In this way we become more present. Miller points out that in this mothering relationship, children are the gurus—not because they tell us what to do, but because they teach through their doing. The old Zen saying goes: “When hungry eat, when tired sleep.” Observing our children closely, we see that’s true. Of course, it’s also true that often when they are hungry and tired, we are not ready for them to be so. So the “good” child is the child that is easy for us. But does that make the child “good”? she asks. Miller compares marriage to a garden, a metaphor that brought tears to my eyes. Children want a bright, rich, well compos- ted garden. They want their parents to- gether both physically and mentally; they want their parents to be happy and pres- ent with them. Such a union is a nourish- ing ground in which a child can grow. Miller describes this Momma Zen way of parenting as our new spiritual prac- tice: “preparing you to be unprepared.” We can take comfort in her openness and her off-centered mothering, as she mean- ders around with the intention of coming back towards center, always. She doesn’t end the book with her story, but points the way toward mindful parenting with a chapter on how to meditate. If I have one criticism, it’s that Miller goes astray when she discusses children and emotions. But then Zen study often seems to miss the point when it comes to emo- tions: many Zen students see emotion as something to get away from. But emotions are part of the human condition and they’re not the problem—it’s the fear around emo- Sixth Annual Big Mind/Big Heart International Intensive October 21 to November 19, 2006 Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel has developed a remarkably accessible way of transmitting the authentic teachings that emerged from Buddha’s enlightenment. This annual event attended by people from all over the world is a rare opportunity to experience this exciting and evolving practice under the direction of Genpo Roshi himself. Daily activities include: Morning and afternoon Big Mind sessions Facilitation skills training and practice Meditation Evening classes Upcoming Big Mind workshops The Crossings (Texas) September 4 to 8, 2006 Kripalu (Massachusetts) September 15 to 22, 2006 For information about these and other events at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, and workshops nationwide: www.bigmind.org www.kzci.org 801.328.8414 Genpo Merzel Roshi