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Lions Roar : September 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 76 I learned other new things about taking care of babies—new to me, but based on ancient wisdom. I learned about the five S’s for soothing fussy babies: swaddling, swinging, letting them suck, holding them sideways, and making shushing noises. Noah was particularly good at the swaddling and he would coo to Paloma in a deep voice—“There, there, Pumpkin Head, now you’re all cozy”— as he tucked the blanket corners around her arms and wrapped her into a snug little package. During the course of my visit I also heard her addressed, by both parents, as Petunia, Little Miss Piglet, Florecita, Sweet Pea, Calabacita, and even Bunion Cake. As for me, to my great delight, Arcelia called me Abuelita, little grandmother. Sometimes, though it was 102 degrees, I carried Paloma out into the backyard and she instantly quieted. She looked up at the leaves in the trees and the big space of sky, and I could see her feeling the un-air-conditioned air on her cheeks. I could see she knew things were different here in the big outdoors. Noah, too, had loved to look at leaves when he was a baby. He still does. ZEN MASTER EIHEI DOGEN, founder of the Soto School of Zen in thirteenth-century Japan, told his monks they should all develop “grandmother mind.” He said, “You can understand all of Buddhism, but you cannot go beyond your abilities and your intelligence unless you have robai-shin, grandmother mind, the mind of great compassion. This compassion must help all of humanity. You should not think only of yourself.” Parents have to have a different kind of mind than grand- parents. Parents have to attend to the nuts and bolts of their children’s needs—feeding them, sheltering them, keeping them warm. They have to protect them from cars, from sugar, from kidnapping. Parents take care of the foreground. But grand- mothers—both literal and metaphorical—can pay attention to the background, to the water and the air. We can tell the babies stories about the stars. But sometimes, grandmothers have to take the place of par- ents. Sometimes the parents are in prison, or are children them- selves, or they have died of AIDS. Sometimes their ability to take care of their children has been destroyed by warfare, homeless- ness, or addiction. More and more grandmothers are heads of households, heroically raising their grandchildren in circum- stances that don’t leave them much time to waltz the babies around the house singing “Norwegian Wood.” I want to keep all of those other grandmothers in mind. I found myself wanting to propitiate the gods, to thank them for my granddaughter’s safe arrival and to ask them to keep her and all babies safe from violence. What offering could I make and to whom? Zen Home & Gift www.chopa.com Since 1994, Chopa has offered uplifting, Zen inspired gifts for you and your home. Please view our ever-changing collection of over 600 items online at www.chopa.com • Tatami & Goza Mats • Shoji Room Dividers • Meditation Supplies • Kimonos • Zen Gifts 1.800.961.2555 Create your own sacred space for meditation. SEPT 72-99.indd 76 SEPT 72-99.indd 76 6/25/07 5:13:03 PM 6/25/07 5:13:03 PM