Being a father

It is said that when Queen Maya was carrying Siddhartha she had a dream. Her dream was translated to mean that when the baby was born, if he stayed home, he would become a world conqueror, but if he left the home, he would become a Buddha. Hearing this, Siddhartha’s father, the king, kept him on his land. We can imagine this was done to protect him, but also so the king would have an heir to his throne when the time came. The king hid all aspects of suffering from Siddhartha during his young life. Then one day Siddhartha left the kingdom and witnessed a sick man, an old man, a dead man, and a monastic. From there we know he went off to find enlightenment.

We all know this story well, and with Father’s Day coming up, I have been thinking about each piece of the story. Most of the time we concentrate on the actions told about Siddhartha, but let us take a different look; a look at the king, Siddhartha’s father.

We can assume he loved his son very much. In his mind he wanted what he thought was best for the boy; riches, status, and a life free from trouble. Maybe even a bit of his own ego was at fault if we assume he wanted to someday have an heir to his throne. As a father, I can understand this very well. And, as a Buddhist, I am thankful that young Siddhartha was able to look past what his father intended for him; and give us the wisdom in which we base our own faith on; the path to enlightenment.

See, as a father, you want the best for your sons and daughters. When you have a child your life no longer belongs to you; it is theirs. Every action must be done with the best of intentions for your children.

And when the time comes, we fathers must also have the wisdom to allow them to go out on their own. Their path to enlightenment is a road only they can travel. May we be fortunate enough to help them take their first step down that path, and allow them to go on their travels…

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at Hsi Lai, originally uploaded by mindonly.

(I wrote this as an article for the upcoming issue of Buddha’s Light Magazine, but since we’re still working on that website, I thought I would post it here for anyone interested in reading.)

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