The aspect of Buddhism that I find the most appealing is the notion that we, each one of us, already has the capability for enlightenment in ourselves through close meditation. We do not need to act a certain way, or wait to be saved by some messiah, but rather, we need to become aware of our own light. To recognize this light we must simply practice seeing deeply into the nature of things by direct experience. Once we recognize this Buddha Nature in ourselves, we come to see that we share it with all beings, and so we appreciate that we do not exist as individual selves, but rather that we are self-less. This realization, I am told, brings an end to suffering. Because once we become cognizant of our interdependence with all life, we slowly discard useless emotions like: greed, fear, anger and other harmful emotions that lead to suffering.
The second facet of the Buddhist practice that resonates with me is that once one begins to see this light, it is the duty of every Bodhisattva to help others realize their Buddha Nature as well.
I wrote this somewhat lengthy introduction as a way to introduce my mother, because she is my constant reminder to stay focused and continue with my practice. She is my light. She has spent the last two years living at the Green Dragon Zen Center in Muir Beach, California, and has now moved to live with my wife and I since the birth of our daughter. She is staying with us indefinitely to help take care of the little one while we are at work. Because of my western upbringing, I was bit nervous about living with my mother at the age of thirty-two. It is not very common for families to live with their parents in the US, but in Iran it happens all the time.
I am relieved to see that my anxiety was unwarranted. It has only been a few weeks, but so far having mom around has been great. Although she never actually says anything to me about my practice, I am learning so much from just watching her. Sometimes when I come home tired from work and sit to eat dinner, I absent mindedly scarf down my food, while I can see that she is meticulously enjoying every bite. While I zonk out in front of the TV, I catch her sitting in the kitchen mindfully drinking a cup of tea.
The first few days I was a bit nervous that her behavior would make me, a bit nervous and guilty about the way I live my life, but the opposite is true. I realize that we are all on own paths. Her presence in our house has gotten me analyzing choices I make. As a result, I now try and eat my breakfast without the TV while enjoying our backyard and listening to the birds. It is an activity I really enjoy. i try to be more mindful in making sure I am not the first person to eat, and I look forward to working with her in the graden.
The yard is another one of her projects. My wife asked if my mom thought that she had to do the gardening as we saw her working in the blistering tropical heat. But I know that it is through this very act of mindfully planting our garden that she is continuing her practice and simultaneously helping me with mine.
I could write an entire book about the influence my mother’s strength and passion have had on my life, but I think this post and photo will suffice for now. Like a true Bodhisattva who has touched her Buddha Nature my mom is now helping me get in touch with mine, not by preaching, or judging, but by simply being herself. Enlightenment is not a goal or a form of salvation. It is a way of life. It is the act of shedding light on our Buddha Nature and sharing that what we see illuminated. I hope to convey this idea through this portrait of me and my mother. I also hope that this post can help the you shed light on your Buddha Nature.
The following photo has not been photoshopped expect for some simple edits with contrast. (Oh and by the way, I shaved off all my hair; stay tuned for a post on why.)
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