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SF-01062
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Story of Parvati and ...(?); falling in love - never alone; the entire universe in ten directions is the true human body; Coming of Age Program; samsara/dukkha; parenting a teenager; the love of mother for a child

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so i've chosen in a myth a story from the hindered tradition to share with you today
and it's a story from india and the time of the gods and goddesses
about a boy who became the elephant prince
the boys mother's name was parvati and she lived with her family in a city of amber palaces and rose colored temples
more than anything parvati love to daydream and to tell stories
one day the lord shiva maker of the world met the lovely parvati and soon it had fallen in love with the other
and so they were married
after the wedding the couple left the city and moved to a palace on the top of a mountain high above the clouds and together they were very happy
unfortunately
shiva was often away doing his work of building the world and parvati was left alone at the palace
even her love of stories couldn't fill the emptiness of their mountain home
she longed for her family for her friends and most of all for a child of her own
shiva however was not ready to begin a family and yet he couldn't stand to see probity so sad
so he told her that if she promised to think about a single wish and only that wish for one whole year it would come true
so from then on each day she dreamed only of having a child
one year later as shiva had promised parvati found a baby boy laying in her bed as if he had always been there
his face was round and bright as the moon and she loved him instantly
so recently i was visiting at my daughter's grandmother's name is linda
and linden i were
talking together and
she told me a story from about fourteen years ago when
she'd gone with me and with my partner grace to visit the intensive care unit at santa rosa memorial hospital
to see a baby
and then to said i watched you talking about me i watched you as you put your hands behind your back and slowly walked toward the cradle where the baby was lame
and then i watched you as he looked at that baby for a very very long time
and i saw you fall in love
that story made me deeply happy and
him not because i didn't remember falling in love i did remember because it's never ended
but i didn't know there was anyone there and i didn't know that i wasn't alone
so this story for me stimulated kind of the massive insight
that my entire life all of those moments including the ones i've called falling in love have never been mine alone
now loving each other effects everyone and hating each other effects everyone
and so does ignoring each other
we are born from my relationships to other people
and it's the only reason that we even survive
in norman fishers book which is called taking our places the buddhist path to truly growing up he talks about how each of us must find a unique place in this world
and he tells us that the bomb to people sneak into their children's bedrooms at night and whisper in their ears be who you are
and yet finding are places is not work that we do by ourselves
we are relational beings and truly we belong to one another
all of the work of growing up comes through our ability to know and to love one another
at the time of the buddha's enlightenment he clearly saw how he himself was dependently arisen from everything and everyone around him
and he said at that time the entire universe in the ten directions is the true human body
entire universe in the ten directions is the true human body
this is what we call the buddha's enlightenment
so this enlightenment or this truth of our existence is also the truth of our responsibility
a grave responsibility to care for everything that is ourselves
so i think we all know about this
fierce global competition between the forces of love and nurturance and the forces of hatred and destruction
and in between the two is the great force of ignorance
we don't know what to do and we don't know how to help
and neither does anyone else apparently
now none of us are going to see the outcome of this competition that's pretty clear however
we do have the responsibility to two sides and that's what growing up has been for each of us and i propose that that's what we have to offer to our children some encouragement about choosing sides
choosing sides is a pretty much the core of the buddhist teaching you know basically our task is to learn how things work and then to teach others so that they too can see how it is how to make good choices
and the good choices are actually what's best for us and what's best for the world
when the dalai lama was asked how to teach children not to hate he said teach them interdependence tell them about all the ways that they are not alone
so today fourteen years after that visit to santa rosa my daughter sabrina
and eighteen other young people are going to come into this room and about eleven thirty i've been told to keep my eye on my watch so
and what we're going to do is to witness them
to see them and to show them i respect
you know many of us here in this room today have fallen in love with these children
as individuals and as ideas
as our hope for the world
and we're deeply loyal to their wellbeing
so we're going to be celebrating what we've called are coming of age program here at san center for this past year we have all held to this single wish to benefit these children and anyway we can
they've been meeting together for almost a year with mentors they've been talking to each other and they've had the privilege of confidentiality
so the parents have been wondering what are they talking about
we don't know
but we really would like to provide the circle of support and love around them as they move through this passageway this mysterious passage way from newborn to child
to at lessened the young adult now
and even though all of us have come through this very same way it's not possible for grown ups to remember what it was like to be three years old
ten years old or fourteen years old
to say nothing of twenty years old thirty years old forty and fifty years old
all of those people we were have vanished
on this body and mind
but i think what we do remember and pretty vividly as how people treated us at various stages of our lives
the things they said to us and it looks on their faces their rewards and their punishment or whether they failed to react to us at all
and i think that the strategies we developed as children are that same ones that were pretty much using now in order to try to manage our lives
when i was a child i taught myself to freeze
when i was afraid or angry and not to speak at all
so people told me i was shy
i don't think so

so i propose that all of you probably discovered some technique for dealing with them
some technique that whether it's working well or not you made continued to be doing
these behaviors in a buddhist language are called karma karma very simply means action actions we take actions of body speech and mind
and karma when it goes on over time for forms these habitual patterns that at kind of like a wheel
and i i think that's why we
since this familiarity and oh not this again oh not that again on not them again you know same ways of thinking same ways of reacting this same way of reacting buddha called samsara samsara some siamese endless circling
and like a little oil in a cage
round and round and round
so when we're trapped by our karma we experienced life is kind of mostly irritated
something's missing something's off out of round
duca the word for suffering and buddhism means out of round
of course this can they can be big out of round two terrible anguish terrible sorrow we all know
so basically all of the practices and the buddhist tradition are designed to help us to escape from the trap of samsara
and to find freedom which is why it's so important that we find ways to help our children before things get too solid they're still pretty fluid
even though we don't like that so much you know are still moving around

so in the buddhist tradition i would say that the work of maturing beings is the primary work
and the way we were true beans as by helping to lift the veil of ignorance which is the primary force driving this wheel is spinning wheel of samsara ignorance and the desire for things to be other than they are
not an uncommon sentiment
and that's what causes this disease so this discomfort for us
so when we lift the veil and see how things work you know we can relax a little bit like oh oh that again oh this again oh them again have some do
not so bad
i remember being really drawn to a phrase in buddhism that was and like this
to become patiently to patiently abide with the continuous arising of non-existent phenomena
patient abiding and the continuous arising of non-existent phenomena

so in buddhism the decision to make good choices to make good karmic choices to behave well
no is is highly regarded
and people who make good choices are called sons and daughters of good family
the many of the suitors the buddha begins by addressing the congregation as sons and daughters so good family
wonderful thing
until we are sons and daughters of good family
so i've been trying to learn how to raise my child and the best possible way and i was forewarned as some years back by what i consider a reliable source my own therapist who am i hope anyway
he's a child adolescent and adult psychiatrist
chris you covering all the bases
and he said that
people in our culture for the most part are afraid of teenagers they scare us
and as a result parents tend to back to far away from them
give him too much space
so i don't know if that's true for all of you but i certainly confronted my parents with that when i was in my twenties i said you know you gave me too much space
it's the accusation
you know and they said but honey we trust in you
it sounds kind of innocent and maybe they are you know i think so
but the result of that was that the destructive forces in myself and in my culture began to hold sway
i wasn't doing so well
making choices
all on my own are so i thought
but what i've been told again and again by my therapist is that the job of the parent of a teenager is to create a seawall
against which the passion sandy the energies of a teenager can continuously pound
okay in other words formidable boundaries
so i'm working up i'm working up to this you know and i can see the need for it and that's already clear
so recently i was driving my car listening to npr
i really like to do and terry gross was talking to alice cooper
do you remember alice cooper
i remember anything alice cooper sang but i remember something about their look
and so this man who seems like a very nice same man actually and forget his real name he's written a book about the beginnings of his band he was saying well you know we were pretty good band but we weren't getting any of their good jobs
we're sort of like the lead bound to the big guys and stuff so they really thought long and hard about what to do and they decided that they would change their persona into something that was intended
to terrify parents
and they thought you know the kids will really like this if their parents hate it and they were absolutely right they became very famous
so even i really enjoyed listening to this man and you know appreciating how clever he was
and i had this thought you know when where and how are we parents going to strike back
are we going to reclaim the hearts of our children and of our culture
in a when wherein how can we establish again maybe with fresh ink standards of morality of ethics and of propriety and our communities
and even as i was thinking about these words i thought not that's pretty old fashioned
you know
nobody's gonna like that
i don't even like
i like alice cooper
now
and yet truly i do admire the people throughout history who have been motivated by corny sentiments
martin luther king jr and susan b anthony
abraham lincoln
shakyamuni buddha nelson mandela
corny
yeah

so i think we are faced with pretty overwhelming odds in this culture today i'm sure parents have always felt that way though you know i read something mark twain wrote just to that effect oh kids today impossible
but it does seem that the profitable industries of the material world and they're clever enhancements of our desire sir
really taking home you know
now all of the designer clothing and dvds and the i don't know the names of these things anyway there so fast i but they gotta have em i pods and canal
going to camp
flying a jet plane what can be more exciting than that of fighter jet
every boy's dream
either that or organic farming
we usually get the ladder
i was thinking of this image of sauron and the lord of the rings you know it's like this big i have industry has turned its gaze on to us and oliver kids
the global economy
when parvathi his new baby was born all of the gods descended from the heavens to gather around the baby boy and his loving mother arriving first was the chariot of his son pulling the dawn behind it and then of the moon pulling the night now
next came mercury venus mars and jupiter and finally the blue planet saturn whose god name was shani
parvati proudly showed her baby to each of them and the gods smiled brightly upon him
but when parvati came to shani the shy god lowered his head and turned away
she insisted that he look
not burying to disappoint her he turned to the boy and the boy smiled
parvati smiled too but her joy soon turned to horror when she remembered that whatever powerful shiny gazes upon is destroyed
it was too late in her child's head turned to ash and blew away

when i got to this part of the story which was quite a surprise
i was touched by a terrible sadness you know not only for the
abstract loss of our children into the haze of
consumer society but also they will last real mutual
to the forces of destruction of war abuse genocide
all the acts of violence that right now right now this very minute are killing children and mothers and fathers
senseless
heartless
stupid
and we don't know how to make it stop
parvati his grief is both prevalent and unimaginable
when i became a mother myself i really experienced in my cells you know in in my guts and through my dreams that something had changed inside of me that my primary self concern had been transformed into a concern for somebody else
it was like a miracle
i'd never thought that was possible i didn't even imagine
i didn't even notice myself concern was just me and the world
but now there was me and this other person
very vulnerable braid time
so in all the world and mother and father's love for their own child as sort of the standard by which we mather measure all other kinds of love
it's also the standard by which we measure all kinds of grief
in the meadow ceuta the loving kindness meditation the love of the mother is extended as a blessing to all living things
may all beings be happy may they be joyous and live in safety all living beings whether weak or strong in high or middle or low realms of existence small or great visible or invisible near or far born or to be born may all beings
be happy let no one deceive another nor despise any being in any state let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child so with a boundless mind should one
suffusing love over the entire world above below and without limit so let one cultivate an infinite good will toward the whole world standing or walking sitting or lying down through all ones waking hours
i really appreciate this meditation
i always appreciated whenever i hear it whenever i said
but at the same time i would really like a lot more control over the welfare of my child
in fact i would like a guarantee
i want no harm to come to her i don't want anyone to be mean to her
or to hurt her or didn't disappoint her
and yet our
i really know that that's not possible
i want her to live to up forever and i know she's not going to and neither am i and neither are any of you
this is another part of growing up
understanding the limitations of our power
cobra wishes
of our great effort
truly understanding what it means to let go
when a great zen master's wife had died he sat outside of his home pounding on a drum and weeping
his students came up to him and said master why are you weeping if this world is entirely made of illusion
and the master said yes it is a world of illusion but at the moment it's a very sad illusion
in the time of the gods vishnu stepped forward promising to bring the boy back to life than he flew to the jungle to tell the animals what had happened to parvati his beloved child a wise old elephant bowed deeply and offered himself to save the boy
vishnu place the elephant's head on the boy's shoulders while all the gods held their breath
for a moment the world was silent and still except for the buzz of insects and the hush of birds wings
then to his mother's to light the boy slowly opened his eyes and laughed sweet golden bees made a crown around his head the gods celebrated with a great feast then after they had eaten hundreds of sugar cakes in their bellies were full they blessed the elephant prince
each gave him a small gift a garland of marigolds a string of beads a bowl of sweets a parasol a conch shell a lotus the son gave him a pair of ruby earrings and the moon a great pearl neck necklace the earth gave him a tiny pet mouse
house
and then the gods gave the boy and name ganesh the elephant headed one
parvati had a gift for him to a silver pen and crystal bottles of colored ink and then she told him stories stories her mother and her mother's mother had told to her and stories of her very own and ganesh wrote them down
but what happened to the elephant the boy asked his mother the elephant she said will live forever
and what about the boy with the elephant's head he asked why his mother smiled he is loved by all but most of all by me
this story seemed to please the elephant prince for he wrote it down word for word for word
i think what moved me most about this ancient hindu myth wasn't the actions of the gods in creating a child or destroying the child or bringing the child back to life
what touched me was the pure love of this mother of parvati for her child
oh boy headed elephant headed or no headed at all
and i think that this loving gaze of the mother is the greatest medicine on this earth
and it's also the gaze of the father of the encore of the sister of a friend it's all of us
looking at each other with that kind of unconditional regard
i don't know if anyone ever told you that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with you
but if they haven't i hope you can hear it now there is nothing wrong with him
and i really believe that this is the way that we can save this world
we have to tell each other over and over again
during our our new years celebration here gringo tree
chant a verse from the lotus sutra
eyes of compassion observing sentient beings assemble an ocean of blessings beyond measure
eyes of compassion observing sentient beings assemble an ocean of blessed blessings beyond measure
so in a little while check my watch
oh forget we're going to invite our own sons and daughters to come into this room you're all of course welcome to come join us at that time eleven thirty
and we're going to meet them with her gaze and offer them some small gifts
and afterwards we were going to celebrate with a great feast pasta salad green salad sweet cake and tea
and again all of you are warmly welcome
i don't know if what we're doing here today ah is enough or the time we spent with the kids this year was deep enough for long enough for wide enough
but i do think we have to try
and i are grateful to all of you for being here right now
thank you very much