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Question: I understand that filial piety is very important in Buddhism. However, I’m estranged from my family. As my parents treat me as non-existent, I rarely contact them. As staying with them caused them suffering, I chose to move out. They even told me not to bother coming to their funerals. As such, filial piety no longer exist in my mind. Is it possible to be liberated or born in Pure Land without practising filial piety then? I might seem heartless but it was against my will that my parents chose to ‘disown’ me.

Answer: Filial piety is seen as the most basic form of gratitude, as you can see at http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2010/01/what-basic-integrity-gratitude-should-we-have (What Basic Integrity & Gratitude Should We Have?) Hmmm… Did you do something to make your parents unhappy? If so, have you apologised verbally and with actual remedial actions? Or was there some misunderstanding? If so, have you discussed with them sincerely and calmly on the matter? You can also do more good deeds and dedicate the merits for your reconciliation.

We have to do our best to resolve negative karmic affinities and to transform them to be positive. Only after you have tried your best to reconcile, and that it is totally hopeless (Is is ever so?), is it alright to let go for the moment, till conditions improve later. If not, there might be strong negative karma hampering good Dharma practice, or regrets on your deathbed that distract good practice. That this problem affects you enough to ask about it is already proof of it being a spiritual obstacle disturbing you to some extent.  As you used inverted commas for ‘disown’, I guess they didn’t really disown you. There is hope then? Please don’t disown hope.

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One Response to “Don’t Disown Hope”

  1. Shen Shi'an August 19, 2011

    Advice from a friend:

    Conflicts between family members can cause the most heartache. Especially between parents and children since such relationships are supposed to be the strongest and most intimate. Sometimes because there is such an expectation, things can become exceptionally bitter when expectations are not met.

    Sometimes it is difficult to help the situation via tangible methods. I think filial piety does not have to be shown in tangible ways when the wall seems too thick. By choosing to move out because staying with them caused them suffering, that to me is also a form of filial piety. Nobody can tell how true or strong filial piety is by external actions. Wishing that they be relieved from negative feelings is a form of filial piety, because negative feelings bring so much suffering to the person having to bear them.

    There must be causes for the poor relationship, only that they might not be known to you (perhaps before you were born or when you were very young), or that you might have been aware of the factors but yet not aware that they were contributing causes.

    You can try to send them loving light. Sit in meditation position, relax yourself, and visualize/ imagine that Amitabha/ Guanyin/ universal love transmits very strong loving rays of blue light to you. You are soon enveloped in this strong compassionate light. Then visualize/ imagine that the same light emits from your heart towards your parents (one parent at a time might be easier) who are seated before you. The light moves from your heart into their heart, and soon they are also enveloped in the same loving light. Visualize that they are very happy. This might take some time to practise and get used to, but try to do it at least a few minutes a day.

    This is what I always do when I can’t resolve relationship issues. It has been very helpful, only that I don’t do it often enough. Sometimes I can actually feel wavelike movements around my heart. Nasty people have become easier to communicate. Hope it will be helpful to you too, and that one day communication channels open up. However lousy the situation externally is, there is always one thing you can do internally – to wish them well. Wish that whatever unfolds is the best for them eventually, and beseech Amitabha/ Guanyin to give you the guidance you need to improve the situation.

    May you and your parents be well and happy.

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