Families, Parenting and the Shambhala Path
By Megan Parke
Our homes and families are the very ground to grow our fearlessness, gentleness, love and wisdom. Parenting is also hard work. It takes us to the edge, rouses our joy and opens our hearts like almost nothing else. As practitioners we know this is fertile ground to cultivate our hearts and minds. Yet as parents we long for opportunities to explicitly connect the teachings and meditation with our daily journey as parents.
At Family Camp at SMC a few years ago, I was fortunate to hear a talk about Parenting and the Six Ways to Rule offered by Doria and Allen Cross, then the Directors of SMC. They spoke through humor and tears about parenting and how the teachings apply directly to this path. I was very moved by the talk and re-read Ruling Your World with fresh eyes.
That summer I also received two small laminated cards. These cards were given to all SMC staff and we wore them around our neck every day with our name tags as reminders of the teachings, how to be of benefit, how to apply the wisdom of our lineage to our daily life and work. These cards had pithe instructions and reminders about the Six Ways to Rule. Since then I have cherished these cards, kept them in my chant book and referred to them regularly when wanting to apply the teachings to my life or parenting. As a parent, this was the connection I was looking for.
Just a few months ago Susan Williams, Chair of the Shambhala Family and Children Working Group, told me she was coordinating and teaching a class on Parenting and the Six Ways to Rule in Halifax. I was thrilled! Ironically, Susan had also received these laminated “wallet sized” cards from that summer and had kept and cherished them. These cards had inspired her and planted the seed for the Parenting and the Six Ways to Rule class in Halifax.
Below is the text from these laminated cards that have inspired me and others to reflect on parenting in a new light. Maybe this will inspire you to offer a class for parents in your center or a discussion group on Parenting as Path. Or perhaps this could simply be helpful as you face a challenging moment as a parent.
The Six Ways to Rule, by Richard Reoch
Benevolence is rooted in patience. Our mind is spacious. We understand people suffer. Our patience results in gentleness, absence of aggression.
Benevolence requires the steadiness of an elephant-a sense of trusting ourselves and remembering the suffering of others. When others are acting out of aggression and speed, they cannot trust benevolence. The wisdom ruler often encounters criticism and blame.
If we feel cornered in the hall of irritation, it seems overwhelming. We are then likely to react with aggression. Our mind becomes a little box. We begin to panic because we have no room to manuever. At that point, we don’t need to be less gentle-we need to be more gentle. Gentleness is always the best whip. Gentleness is devoted to the welfare of others.
Benevolence is infused with being true. Being true means possessing weightiness, a quality that is unyielding and at the same time very genuine. This is conviction grounded in confidence, like the force behind a strong breeze.
Being true to the view of basic goodness gives us natural diplomacy. Having worked diligently with our mind, we are familiar with the realms of anger, jealousy and ignorance, as well as generosity and joy. We no longer believe we can get what we want with negativity. We are using different strategies. By resting in big mind, we can conquer small mind.
Being benevolent and true is how to arrive at genuineness. The prince should not believe that what he is doing is right merely because he is the prince. He should know that what he is doing would be right whether he were a prince or not- that is the only way for him to genuine.
Being genuine also means being logical. This is not even our genuineness particularly. It is just a star in the sky that everyone can see. If we are in doubt we need to reconnect with being benevolent and true.
In order to be truly powerful, the prince must take a great leap and jump into the ocean of the Rigden’s fearlessness. We are fearless because we are beyond doubt about basic goodness. We are not afraid of the power of windhorse. This fearlessness has a gentle quality: it is rooted in unwavering compassion.
Trying rule our world single handedly, we’re not really ruling. We may believe independence is a sign of power but not wanting to work with others is a sign that we have not conquered self-absorbtion. The reality is that we can’t handle our anger, can’t develop patience and can’t cultivate our wisdom without working with others.
Being artful means acting with great dignity. We continually examine the influences in our environment. If everyone in our circle flatters or agrees with us, our self-awareness will become cloudy like a faded mirror.
Consideration of others is at the root of being artful. Ivity. With artfulness, we open up a situation with wisdom, rather than closing it down with our own negativity. We want to draw people out , not suppress them. Instead of forcing our opinion on them, we try to create space. The questions we ask are often as important as the answers we offer. In that space, they can learn to use discernment and discipline to discover their own wisdom.
When we communicate power artfully, everyone feels included. We have each person’s interests in mind. We have fearlessly rejected self-absorbtion, so joy and celebration arise. Celebration is an attitude. It is the ultimate appreciation of daily life. We’re not just in it for ourselves; we are in it because we want to offer wisdom and compassion to others. They feel the power of our love and care. As we overcome fear and aggression, there is less bickering, jealousy and competition. Thus, as a group, we have strong windhorse, which makes us all-victorious.
Interested in how to offer these teaching for parents at your center?
Halifax just recently piloted a 4 part series on the Six Ways to Rule for Parents. The class was called: “Six Ways of Ruling—Parenting as Path”. A facilitator introduced each of the four different teachers and briefly reviewed the previous week’s material. The content and ensuing discussion were divided in this way with Lynn Friedman as Facilitator:
Some people attended all four classes. However with a brief review at the beginning of each class, it was also easy to accommodate individuals who could not attend the whole series. Copies of the Shambhala Media’s publication “The Six Ways of Ruling” was offered for sale as a resource for parents and class participants.
For more information, feel free to contact Susan Williams.