Saturday, July 19, 2008

Detachment from Sorrow and Pain - Your children are your best teachers

For the first time in a while I had an amazing conversation with my father. Over the years I have learnt so much from him, but today I felt for the first time that I had enlightened him about something that he has been struggling with for years.

My father is blind and has been for the last 34 years. It was a tragic incident and I inherit those problems (Retinal Detachment). It was in that tragedy that my whole family was uprooted from India to move to North America for a better life. My dad never gave up - he worked despite his handicap for the best for his children but blindness prevented him to achieve everything he wanted in his career. He took early retirement, once his children were educated and set in life.

He lived a hard life as a youngster, first surviving one of the biggest earthquakes in Quetta (in Pakistan) in 1936 as an infant and then faced tremendous hardships as he and his family were uprooted from Quetta and moved to India in 1947, while India was divided by the British into three countries. He had a vision for his future and he worked for it, and educated himself, studying sometimes late night under a street light in a park. His life has been a constant source of inspiration for me.

While life seemed so settled and good, he still faced the trauma of blindness. He never received mobility training; so he remained dependant on my mother to hold his hand. He faced the death of my mother with great courage and a major heart surgery. What has kept him going is his utter dedication to his daily 4 hour practice of meditation, which includes chanting. But despite all this he has trouble detaching from pain and sadness. He seems to be not satisfied and is constantly troubled by his failed eyesight and he keeps thinking he still has some light. In that hope he lives, but alas that hope is just hope.

The reality is that he is able to function well and fine at home but he feels helpless. He is also devastated with recent events of my life. While I detach from the destruction in my life, he is constantly in pain and sadness by what that has done to our family. It was not in the master plan - life seemed so smooth and happy. He gives me hope but he himself feels hopeless which in turn torments me.

So today as he called me to wish me safe journey, he expressed his sadness and pain. I finally had the courage to speak up and say "why can't you just detach from this sadness, detach from my pain, and what I may be going through? What good is the 4 hour meditation?" I think those words simply summed it up for him and I think he realized that the only thing he can remain attached is hope, and the positive things he has in life. He has to detach from the pain, or he will never be happy.

I also realized that my kids do the same with me - when my 6 year old simply reads my face and says "daddy, can you please smile every time you look at me". She never forgets to remind me and it instantly brings the smile on my face. I realize how equally thoughtful and insightful your children are. Never underestimate them and never take them for granted as your private property. These were the words of a very thoughtful person. I will never forget what this person had to say. " Your children are not your property and you can't divide them or use them as such - they are not your little hostages!" I learnt an important lesson from this person. I broke down and cried.

I think your children are your greatest teachers. They are as thoughtful and intelligent as you may be; despite your age and experience. It is not your right to use your children as emotional pawns. They love you unconditionally and they will give it you unconditionally. Love your children unconditionally, teach them, take care of them - but also be open to their feelings , listen to them and learn from them and don't deny them the love they deserve from others, just because you may no longer love those people anymore. Let them go, let them be the person they need to be, free them from your own emotional chains, they will only love you more for that, but never love you any less. I guess that is in itself a form of detachment, while you remain so strongly attached to them.

With these thoughts I am off to Pune, India. I will hopefully detach some with the distance from my pain. I will miss my children every day while I am gone. They are my two little yoginis and I know they love their dad unconditionally no matter what, just as I love my dad no matter what.


The yogi

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