Question: “I know that in Buddhism, parents are to be highly respected because they are our first Dharma teachers in this current life. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case for some of us. What if my parents have been teaching and forcing me to practice Adharma instead? What if there are many of traumas my parents have caused me? Say, teaching & forcing me to lie, to hate & be violent, they literally spitted on my face, they beat me everyday and once I was forced to get out of the house naked, etc”
When we practice Buddhism, we practice everything with compassion. That is how we show people the correct way – by example, not by force. It is true that some parents are not fit to be parents at all, that they should have never had children in the first place. However, deep down inside they still have to love their children, otherwise they could of easy aborted or given the child up for adoption or simply just left somewhere.
As children there is not much we can do to abstain from the things our parents force us to do, it seems like we would always be on the losing side. As we get older and become adults, we have the power, attitude and patience to help teach our parents.
Since most parents as we’ve become adults, are probably set in their ways, views, opinions, discrimination, biases, etc., so it would seem nearly impossible to “change” their mind. But we don’t want to change their mind. Instead, we need to show and teach them right view and right understanding. Even though they might have caused us great suffering as children, we need to do the exact opposite for them. Show them compassion and love, help them with chores and bills, show them that their attempt at cruelty and suffering has failed and that you have forgiven them. They need to help themselves, for themselves.
One of my favorite Buddhist stories is of Maudgalyāyana and his mother. When Maudgalyāyana gained enlightenment, he saw this mother in hell as a hungry ghost because she was cruel and slandered monks, giving them dog meat as alms. Maudgalyāyana was deeply saddened and tried to go to her and offer her food, but for every bite she tried to consume, it would go up in flames, not allowing her to eat.
Maudgalyāyana asked the Buddha what he could do to save his mother. The Buddha advised that his mother had to change by her own will, but that he should pray for her. So Maudgalyāyana and 99 other monks prayed for her for 100 days. Hearing her son’s prayers, the mother felt her son’s deep compassion and love, so she repented and vowed to become a better person. She got out of hell and was reborn in a heavenly realm.
So like the story of Maudgalyāyana and his mother, we must equally do the same for our parents. Praying for them and showing them great compassion. Through our own efforts and intentions, we can help our parents see right view and right understanding.
Smile and be well!