Author Topic: Footprints on the Journey: My Mother - Khenpo Sodargye  (Read 1531 times)

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Footprints on the Journey: My Mother - Khenpo Sodargye
« on: May 31, 2016, 04:45:19 pm »

My Mother

You have been away from Larung for 160 days—this was what my mother reminded me on the phone today. So every day, she is concerned with her undutiful son who is now living in a distant place.

Like all the mothers in the world, my mom paid dearly for my upbringing and spiritual practice. Throughout the rough years, she endured humiliation and shouldered heavy burdens, fully reflecting her extreme tenacity and kind heart.

Once when I was 2 years old, I became ill suddenly. My fever wouldn’t drop and I was at the verge of dying. Carrying me on her back, my mom trudged one step after the other toward the county town scores of kilometers away. For two full days and nights, she walked nonstop; the number of times she stumbled and the difficulties she encountered on the road could not be counted. I was unconscious in the grip of the Lord of Death until finally, I managed to break free from the ordeal. It was only then that a smile appeared upon on my mother’s sweltering face.

In my childhood, every night after dinner our whole family would sit around the fire pit and my mom would start her daily must-do homework—reciting The Aspiration Prayer to Be Born in the Pure Land of Great Bliss. The fire cast a reddish glow on her blossoming young face; I was struck with a sense of pure awe as if beholding the immaculate Tara in person. Her vivid recitation and chanting were like melodies coming from the Dakini Land, reverberating in our tent on and on…. This subtle influence led to my early understanding of Buddhism. To this day, whenever I hear or read the Aspiration Prayer to Be Born in the Pure Land of Great Bliss, my mother’s chanting voice resounds in my ears. I owe it greatly to her that I can still remember the entire prayer to this day.

I remember when I was around 7 or 8, my mom was still quite young, her white porcelain face had a reddish tint, her eyes were like jet-black jewels, and her teeth were as white as the snow. One day I went herding with her on the mountainside. Up there the trees grew lavishly and the verdant pasture was dotted with colorful flowers. We played hide and seek and, when I spotted her hiding among the flowers, I felt she was just as beautiful as the divine maiden. Perhaps that’s what is meant in the Han Chinese proverb: “Never does a son see his own mother as ugly; never does a dog see its own master as poor.”

These days, the carving knife of time has chiseled deep lines on my mother’s face, her cheeks are now sunken, and her teeth have fallen out. With legs almost crippled, she can only move her heavy body jerkily with the aid of a cane. Should I recount her agility and stunning beauty in her youth, no one would believe me. Indeed, time pays no mercy to anyone!

The kindness of parents is inconceivable. The Buddha recounts in The Sutra about the Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty of Repaying It our parents’ many acts of kindness. Master Atisha also teaches that to be filial and respectful to one’s parents is no different from practicing emptiness, which has compassion as its very essence. This teaching was once related by a lay practitioner to his parents, which aroused in them great faith in the Dharma and consequently they took refuge in Buddhism.

A proverb in Tibet goes: “As flowing water is the mother’s heart; as a rocky stone is her son’s.” A mother’s heart is as tender as water, while her son’s is as hard as a rock. When people at last appreciate their parents’ hardships and want to pay them back and look after them, the parents have already left this world.

To be calm and still is the tree’s wish, yet the wind keeps on blowing.
To offer respect and care is the son’s wish, but his parents have already gone.

Therefore, we should pay due respect and attention to our parents while they are still living.

A thread moves in a mother’s loving hand,
Making a garment for her traveling son.
With all of her affection she is sewing and sewing,
For fear he’ll ever be roving and roving.
Who says the little soul of grass waving
Could ever repay the warmth of the generous sun?

In fact, there is no greater way to repay a mother’s kindness than to lead her to embrace Buddhism and arouse in her faith in the Three Jewels. It’s a consolation to me that my mother is a devout Buddhist and she has taken monastic ordination. Perhaps these could be counted as my little accomplishments in my filial duties.

Mom, please do not worry too much about this undutiful son of yours. Just concentrate on your recitation of Buddha’s name and praying to the Three Jewels. I’ll be back home as soon as I recover from my illness.

4th of February, Year of RenWu
March 18, 2002


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