Naresh: I came in to contact with Buddhist teachings through Tibet House in New Delhi and met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. This was in the early ‘80s. I have a son, Atisha who is 14, and a daughter who is 10, Mudita.
I had been Buddhist for five years when I had my son. In our case we didn’t know whether we even wanted to have a child, but Lama Zopa told us we absolutely had to have the child!
We were given very specific instructions by the lamas. Rinpoche told people he could be somebody special and that we should give him a good education, keep him clean and never let him eat anything that has been eaten by anyone else. We’ve followed these instructions to this day.
As a matter of fact the children met so many lamas in our house that until last year I didn’t want to introduce the Dharma formally to them because it would look like an imposition to take them to Dharma. Then I got a message from Lama Zopa Rinpoche through Ven. Marcel Bertels, and Rinpoche said, “Over-exposure is better than under-exposure, so start bringing Atisha to Dharma teachings.” I did; he came to Dharamsala and got teachings from His Holiness. He’s going again this December to Bodhgaya. He has a very strong interest – also my daughter.
Antonella: I had dreams when I was pregnant and various dreams of His Holiness. I never wanted to tell anyone because when I got pregnant I was only one year into the Dharma. I just thought that, sure, if you’re new in the Dharma, of course you’d dream of having a child who’s special, so I never told anyone.
One day, though, Lama Zopa was here with other lamas, including Trijang Rinpoche – all the old ones, you know – they started asking questions, and I was actually kind of irritated! I felt like, why are they interfering with my personal life! But the next day I went to Lama Zopa and told him, “Yesterday you came and I didn’t say anything, but now I want to tell you all of these dreams I’ve had.”
He clarified that such dreams don’t happen just because you would like them to happen. From that time onward we were sent to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and we have been taking my son to His Holiness every couple of years – whenever he says. He’s telling us which school is best for him to go and it has been going on this way. In this sense my children are very much linked with Dharma.
It has helped me in the sense that every time I get tired, frustrated, angry and whatever, I do try to remember that not only is there great purpose in having to deal with these precious human lives who are my children but also that we are so linked with them; they help me remember. I lead a very ordinary life, going to the office and all of that, so I suppose sometimes I do freak out.
The last couple of days I was in a very bad state of mind and I was complaining about things that are not going right, etc. So my son and my daughter came and sat on my bed, and my son said very clearly, “Look, in any case this is your bad karma and you should be glad that you’re clearing it up. If you go on like this you’ll only accumulate more negative karma and you’ll have to suffer the same way later on, so why don’t you more or less cut the crap!”
I don’t think what he said is something extraordinary; anyone who knows about Dharma would be able to think of it; but the fact that this came from my children made me very happy. In the same way, when they are in trouble I try to remind them of these things.
In our family there is one kind of ethical basis, which is Dharma, Dharma, Dharma. It’s not obtrusive or contrived; it’s not like the Ten Commandments: now you should do or this or that. It is completely understood that if somebody goes about lying or talking badly about somebody else, then it’s open for any of us to say, “Oh-oh,” as a warning, and it’s understood. In a sense it’s a very natural thing to do; it’s not really something I consciously bring in.
It’s no good to talk about compassion and wisdom and not be able to put it into practice. Children are demanding you to help them practice every minute. That’s what I feel is so important, and I also feel it’s one of my main obstacles. I know as a Dharma practitioner that I can’t say, “It doesn’t matter, I’ll lie to my children about this,” or, “I will not entertain this because I’m tired.” That I know I cannot do. I can try to do it but I feel so bad about it that I have to go back and cure it.
You really have to practice in the most genuine way, because if you don’t they catch you! Once you have practiced 10 percent they catch you on the other 90 percent if you don’t. It’s very dangerous, in a way, because they really become your mirror. They say, “Oh, you say this but look what you do.” Once you start like that with children then you can’t really fool them. It’s very demanding, but it’s one way to get going with Dharma.Tags: parenting