My dear friend Faith died this last month. She was my vocal coach for about thirty years and we became friends, discussing everything from music to our families to Buddhism. A mutual friend sent a text about her death when I was in Australia. I carried on with my trip, slightly changed, but didn’t really feel her loss until I was preparing for her memorial service in mid September.
It’s much more self-flattering to identify as a victim of another’s anger than to identify with the one who lashes out in anger or takes more then their share. But if we truly, truly wish to awaken, we need to look closely at all our thoughts, not just the ones that make us out to be the hero of our story.
As daughters of the Buddha we are well equipped to deal with the challenges that face us in this age of climate change, xenophobia and materialism. There are many tools our practice provides us with that are helpful during challenging times. Buddhist principles, such as not attaching to outcome, make for a more spacious approach to activism.
A mom’s dharma needs to take into account getting up in the morning, brushing our teeth making breakfast, strapping the baby onto our chest or getting the kids dressed and fed, and stepping outside the front door, sometimes even before our first cup of coffee. We have errands to run, bills to pay, meals to prepare, and daily decisions to make that impact the lives of our families.
Conscious aging burns off the small stuff revealing a deeper life purpose. In place of youthful ambition we are left with joy in a crisp apple, a good nights sleep, a maple tree changing colors with the seasons, the warmth of a child curled up on our lap, and the joy of giving back. All the stages we’ve moved through become available to us. We are fresh and creative like a child, experimental and honest like a teenager, productive and in charge like an adult and wise like an elder.
In this media connected world, awakening to the pain of others can be overwhelming. We can’t bear to see others in pain and not do anything to help them. On my desk are letters soliciting donations from global projects, local food and housing shelters, political campaigns and other worthy causes. All of them are important, but I can’t possibly give money to every cause each time they solicit. So when I sit down to pay my bills I pick one of the causes and write them a check. When my coffers are full I give more and when there is less I give less-but I always give something.