Deep Gratitude for Our Parents
A Dharma Teaching by Grandmaster JinBodhi
Compilation by Xiang Yun
Both father and mother play important roles in their child’s growing years. Parental love expressed through daily nurturing is critical to the healthy development of children. In particular, the importance of the mother’s role cannot be underestimated. Mothers often assume more of the direct caregiving. The loving bond between a mother and her child is one of the most powerful forces in the world. However, fathers are increasingly taking a hands-on approach to raising their kids.
Parents of infants and young children rarely sleep through the night. A lack of sleep can cause their health to deteriorate. But their priority is always the needs of their children. The wellbeing of the children is put before their own.
The Sacrifices of Parenthood
When women enter motherhood, they rise to many occasions that they may have shied away from before they had children. Providing guidance to a growing child causes a mother to grow too, and she develops skills and wisdom along the way. The same is true of fathers.
Watching her child evolve and succeed in life is a mother’s joy. Her child’s happiness is her happiness too. When her child receives praise, she is overjoyed, far more so than at compliments about herself.
Regardless of how far children venture, or when they fall, good parents always try to be there for them. Parents want the best for their kids, and sometimes their good intentions are misunderstood by children. When we look back, we can often see clearly that our parents only had our best at heart.
Parents sacrifice themselves for the sake of their children. Selflessness elevates them to a higher state of being — one without ego — the noblest part of our original nature. Good parents are willing to jeopardize their own safety and security for the wellbeing of their kids.
A child at his most despondent finds solace in his parents’ boundless energy. Comforted by their presence, a child stays afloat despite facing adversities. Encouragement from parents could lead a child to fulfil his dreams.
A Lifeline of Great Love
Parenthood manifests great love. All parents of past generations carry energies that bind together to form lifelines of this great love. Hence, we should sincerely show gratitude to our parents, present and past.
From the beginning, children depend on their parents’ care and nurturing. Even when they are grown, children reach out to their parents for guidance. No matter how many miles parents are from their kids, the bond remains. Separated by distance but forever connected by love. We need to ponder and reflect on this: Now that we are grown, do we still remember our parents’ kindness and virtue? Have we repaid them?
It is possible that we have taken their love for granted. We are our parents’ glory and eternal concern. But do we show gratitude? Some children reluctantly call their parents only during festive seasons. Unable to find any subjects to talk about after a few minutes of conversation, embarrassment and awkwardness set in. How can we repay parents’ kindness if this is the norm?
In adulthood, estrangement can happen due to differences of opinion. For instance, your parents disagree with you buying a property or dislike your choice of partner. Disputes cause great despair and when they turn into hatred, children sometimes forget all their parents’ kindness. In my opinion, this is a great mistake by the children.
Some people find it easier to love the young than the elderly. But when people become parents, they may see their own parents in a new light. Taking care of and protecting your offspring will make you reflect on your parents’ love for you. They must have showered similar love upon you, even surpassing the love you have for your child. Thus, we ought to treat our parents with the deepest sincerity and gratitude.
Gift of Companionship
There are blood bonds between our ancestors and us. If our parents are liberated from sufferings and elevated to a higher spiritual level, our life will also become prosperous. Heartfelt gratitude toward ancestors and parents could mend the damaged and impaired genes that we inherited. When we begin to understand our parents’ kindness from a new perspective, our heart opens and compassionate light illuminates us.
Sincerely repay parents’ kindness by being respectful and grateful toward them. Make time to visit them and enjoy their company. Don’t wait and regret not visiting them when it’s too late for they have passed on. Parents do not need children to shower them with material gifts or spend a lot of money on them to show love. As they fear loneliness in their old age, your companionship is what they yearn for. Enjoying a home-cooked meal together, just like when you were a child, will bring your parents and you great joy and happy memories.
To be better people, we must develop gratitude and respect for our parents, ancestors and teachers. Be grateful for those who have helped us immensely in our journey, or simply given us advice.
Love Far and Wide
I believe all living things have souls and feelings. When we mistreat sentient beings, even handling plants without due care, we prevent ourselves from developing compassion and loving-kindness. Our sense of gratitude must go far and wide. Feel thankful for the air we breathe. Acknowledge and protect the trees and greenery.