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Buddhadharma : Win 2012
WINTER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 19 EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO TEACHERS@THEBUDDHADHARMA.COM NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY: Forcing kids to do something we think is beneficial often backfires. And there are a lot more ways for kids to entertain and distract themselves these days. This is true for adults as well! The best way to introduce children to the dharma is to practice yourself, trusting that how you are is the best teaching you can offer. It’s more effective to be what you value rather than talk about it. Ram Dass once received a letter from a practitioner who was visiting her family after returning from a retreat. She was having dif- ficulty with her family and said they weren’t able to accept her Buddhist beliefs and prac- tices. Ram Dass responded by basically say- ing, “Better to be a Buddha than a Buddhist.” Embodying calm amid the vicissitudes of life can be an abiding refuge for children and should not be underestimated. At times when your sons are upset, your engaged calm can be very helpful. Keep in mind that we don’t always know the beneficial effects teachings are having on our children. When one of my nieces was young, whenever she visited us, she would talk about the next activity to come while we were still engaged in the activity at hand. Over and over again, we would point out that what we were doing right then and there was really fun, and that to be in the present moment had its own value. In response, she would pretend she didn’t hear us. However, many years later, she said that our words had actually made a big impression and finally made sense to her. She was trying to connect our advice to her current life and found it really helpful. So kids don’t always reveal their receptivity in the moment. Another helpful approach is to introduce your sons to peaceful environments. Chil- dren don’t know what’s available unless their (LEFT–RIGHT):BARBARAWENGER,JANINEGULDENER,MARYLANG ZENKEI BLANCHE HARTMAN is former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center GESHE TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center ASK THE TEACHERS I have two sons, one seven and the other fourteen. I’d like to introduce them to meditation and the Buddhist teachings but it’s difficult to compete with Nintendo games, favorite television shows, and all the other exciting and flashy things kids gravitate to these days. How can I share the gift of dharma with my sons without trying to force it on them and potentially turn them off it altogether? Q