Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nirvana

A Buddhist will tell you that your attachments cause you suffering. What I've recently realized is that, if you are a parent, there's a good chance that your attachments are causing your children suffering, too. Attachments come in many different forms. We may be attached to relationships, ideals, material possessions, particular outcomes, delusions - anything we cling to mentally, physically or emotionally.

Nothing is more important to me than my relationship with my children. This includes my attachments.

In Buddhism, Nirvana is the mental state reached when someone releases their attachments and is free from suffering.


This quote spoke to me because it reflects the kind of relationship that I want to have with my children. If we parent from a place of compassion, without negative emotions and fears, we can live a life of profound joy with our children.

Sometimes our attachments are obvious, such as wanting our children to look a certain way when we go out in public: brushed hair, clean clothes, clothes that match, hair that is its natural color, socks and shoes.

We may be attached to what our society says is right or good or necessary for our children: going to school, good grades, high test scores, saying please and thank you, extra curricular activities, lessons, chores, what to eat and when it should be eaten.

We may also be attached to expected responses when we do something for our child: gratitude, appreciation, happiness, joy.

We plan an outing that we think our child will enjoy. We tell them about the outing and they say they don't want to go. We get upset. Why? We had expectations, we took the time to plan the outing, we were wrapped up in our anticipation of enjoying the outing with our child, we are hurt that they aren't excited about our plan. We were attached to the idea of the outing and the expected response of the child. If we can let go of that attachment and find a place of compassion we can respond to our child in a positive way. Is our child not feeling well? Is there something about the outing that is scary to the child? Is there something the child was hoping to do instead? Is the child feeling like some down time instead of a big adventure?

What are you holding onto that is causing your child suffering? What attachments are getting in the way of a compassionate relationship with your child?

Nothing is more important than my relationship with my children. If I have an attachment that is causing suffering in my relationship with my children than I need to let go of that attachment. If there is tension or conflict in my relationship with my children I need to examine what I'm holding onto. Releasing my attachments releases that tension. Suffering ends and peace is found.

Living in Nirvana with our children, how cool is that?
Just don't get too attached to the idea....

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