|Golden Age Taking care of the family The Young Buddhas at Home|
care of the family
by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Have you seen this movie for children called “Pinocchio”, about a wooden puppet? A childless old man carves a wooden puppet to amuse himself. It turns out to be so pretty that he says to himself, “How nice if it would become a real child!” A fairy coincidentally appears and grants his wish. Gradually, the puppet is transformed into a child.
The fairy also tells the puppet that it should behave well, be obedient, be willing to learn, do good deeds, contribute himself unconditionally, and be moral, etc. Perhaps he even had to meditate. (Master laughs.) Only then could it become a real child. “Otherwise,” she said, “a bad child is just like a wooden puppet.” Do you understand? These tales are not simply tales. There are some implicit inner teachings about spiritual practice in them.
Take “Aladdin And His Magic Lamp” for instance. Have you watched that one? (Audience: Yes!) Aladdin was only a beggar in the first place. He became a prince because he pursued spiritual practice. The lamp within him was polished and shined. His closed mind accumulated through many lifetimes, and his bad memories were released. So, he had many magical powers, just like the Genie in the lamp. That means our mind has been opened at that time. After enlightenment, our brain becomes more efficient, so we can do many things. For instance, I can design clothing, lanterns and paint paintings. Those are the magical powers that I didn’t have before. (Applause) But, these are nothing great! I am just giving you some examples. After enlightenment, we can comprehend many things.
Nevertheless, as I have explained before, it is possible only if you truly want it. You won’t be enlightened simply by someone forcing you to come and get the initiation. This is not the way! Therefore, any teacher would say, “Rely on yourself!” Not that you don’t need a teacher, but that you must be truly sincere. Otherwise, even if you stayed here clinging to the Master for several hundred years, you’d still be the same! You cannot become a prince as long as you are clinging to your preconceptions, your habits and your quality of a beggar. Just like the beggar, Aladdin, he could have become a prince, if it were not for his persistent fault of telling lies. He still wanted to cheat his lover, and subsequently was punished. Only then the demon was able to get hold of his weakness, understand? Eventually, he was exposed to everyone as being a dishonest beggar.
This resembles very much the situation of our spiritual practice. If we are enlightened but truly not realizing why we are enlightened and why it is like that, we will definitely run into trouble again. The demon will return. This is what the demon does, waits to test us. So, don’t blame the demon. It is no use blaming the demon since it is our own fault. If we are good, no harm could come to us, doesn’t matter how many demons come. Like in the story, even if the demon existed, but, at that time, Aladdin still had his shining lamp which he could polish every day. He could command the magical power of the lamp to protect him and do many things for him. Later, because he lied, he didn’t keep the precepts well, exposing a flaw, a hole for the demon to penetrate, the demon grabbed his weak point, and was able to harm him and take his lamp away. That lamp represents our inner wisdom, our virtues and inner self.
The princess he married is our soul! Do you understand? Having found our soul, our own master, no other girl is more beautiful, nothing on earth is more precious. Only when we have found our own master then we are completely contented. Otherwise, all the things in the world mean nothing to us. For instance, the beggar had become a prince and owned everything. Yet, he still longed to marry the princess. He did not want any other girl on earth. He wanted only the princess. The princess symbolizes our soul, our inner self that cannot be replaced.
Sometimes, you can find some valuable teachings when watching the television. Therefore, before showing a cartoon to the children, watch it yourself beforehand and understand it well. Sometimes, you have to explain it to the children. Don’t think that the children cannot understand. They can, if you explain it to them. I have played with many children and found that they are just like adults. I respect them very much. Sometimes, I am so shocked that I dare not treat them too casually. They are really smart, often surprising the adults. This reminds us that they also have a soul, a Buddha within. We should not recklessly remark that they are only kids. Of course, every child is different. However, should we know how to teach them, they would all behave well. If we don’t know how to treat them, they observe our weakness and start being mischievous. Once their mischief becomes a habit, it is difficult to change them.
If you do not teach them well and put them on the virtuous path while they are small, it will be too late to correct them afterwards. However, to educate them, and show them a sacred and correct path, we ourselves must understand perfectly. Is that not so? Parents are the initial teachers, the most important teachers. They raise the children from when they are small; the initial stage is the most vital. Therefore, parents are the best teachers of children. If they are not guided to the right path then, how can we do it later? They will have already travelled a long way, too far away to be pulled back.
So we ourselves must be clear about the path we are walking on before we can guide our children. What you have taught them, the books you let them read, the friends you advised them to have, and the conditions and background that you provided for their growth, will eventually be reflected in the result. He is born carrying the genes of past lives. If you do not help him to improve from childhood, guiding him to a better direction, later he will act according to his previous genes. He will be exactly as he was before. Doesn’t matter how many hundred times he was born, he remains the same type of person, or even worse. Because his genes are bad, he attracts bad things, and he becomes worse and worse.
We should start bending him when he is small, as if shaping a bonsai, a miniature Japanese potted tree, right? They start bending and shaping it just as it begins to grow. Bind it with ropes, let it grow the way they want it to grow. Now, for a tree like this one(Master pointing to a tall tree nearby), can you tie it up? Can you shape it to grow that way? Not anymore! It is too rigid now to be bound or bent. When it was very young and flexible, you could have shaped it like the bonsai. Otherwise, it naturally grows in its own way and at its own speed, unable to control any more. Do you understand? Therefore, it is very vital for parents to take good care of the children. At the same time, you should be serious in learning, in getting enlightenment, really understand the teachings and morals. Only when you are enlightened can you help the children, guide them to a correct and better direction. (Applause)
We can still change after growing up, but a special type of teacher is required. These teachers were not so badly needed when we were small. It was all right giving them second hand teachings when they were small. However, when they have grown up, first hand teachings are necessary, which is seeking an enlightened Master. Having found a good enlightened Master, having learned well and trained well, you can carry on teaching the children. Even after the death of the Master, the children can still grow up well under your enlightened teaching and correct concepts. Therefore, God gives us children also to remind us to behave like a teacher. We have to perfect ourselves, because a child is waiting for you to help and guide him. God entrusts a child — a new soul in your hands, demanding you to take care of him, polish him, and create a prototype. So, don’t complain about having children! They are your lessons to learn how to be a teacher.
So, God gives us children to train our latent talent of being a teacher. You have to know everything if you have a child, understand? The more you know, the wiser your child will become, and more definite his direction. Most parents in the world do not know much. They themselves are not steady, are unclear about their direction, morally not stable, and not wise enough. This is why we grew up and became so wishy-washy, undecided about our direction, and find it so difficult to start spiritual practice now. If you had been immersed in an atmosphere of spiritual practice from childhood, learned meditation and moral teachings, you would learn very fast from Master here, right? You might not even need Master! Your parents teaching you would have been sufficient.
(Sigh!) This is why the whole world continues to be so wishy-washy, fighting only for wealth and fame, virtually without thinking. They do not realize only spiritual food can satisfy us the most. Everyone is still greedy and sinking, because they are not satisfied with anything. They are not satisfied with the highest position, the greatest wealth. All because they have not experienced the vital essence.
Now, if more of us, the adults, would practice spiritually, increasing in number, truly and accurately got in contact with our inner nature, understand morals and wisdom, our children would grow up in a splendid way. Should the whole nation pursue spiritual practice, all the children would become saints, saints from childhood. Subsequently, the whole world would be in peace, virtually no need for any weapons. Everything would develop prosperously and naturally. For instance, I have never learned painting, fashion design or jewelry design, yet I can do it now if I wish to. I can earn money to help the needy people. I have more than enough to spend! On the contrary, worldly people sometimes have to work very hard and yet cannot earn enough, right? They cannot even save themselves, let alone saving money to help others. You see, there is such a drastic difference!
So you see. Only our true wisdom is the most reliable, not the worldly position or wealth, nor the earthly beauty or talents. However, it is easy to talk. People have grown too old and mature to change easily. Even then, hard to change doesn’t mean impossible to change. It is still possible even if we do it slowly.