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Dharma Talks : The Kwan Um School of Zen and Providence Zen Center

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Obligation to Your Parents  

September 3, 1983

Dear Grant,

Thank you for your letter. How are you?

You say that you are studying music at York University and martial arts with David Mott. That is wonderful. Also you say that you had an experience of "seeing" music like flowing water through the subway, instead of divided up into beats and bars. That is very wonderful, too.

Next you say that you have moved into the Zen Center but that your parents do not like that. Obligation to your parent is very important. If your center is strong, then your outside condition and situation are no problem. But if your center is not strong, then you cannot help yourself or your parents. If your center is strong then you can understand your parents, minds and you can always give love to them. This means that every week you must visit your parents, only give them good speech and good actions. Don't talk about Buddhism. If they like wine, then drink wine with them. If they like sports, then do sports with them. If they like music, then do music with them. Then slowly, slowly they will begin to understand your mind and also Zen mind. If you explain Zen to them ("Zen is this or Zen is that"), then they will like your living at the Zen Center less and less. Only give happiness to them. That is very important! That is what obligation to your parents means. Slowly, slowly they come to understand your mind and your practice -- then no problem.

So I hope you only go straight - don't know, try, try, try - which is clear like space. Attain the correct situation and condition, get Enlightenment and save all beings from suffering.

Yours in the Dharma,

S. S.


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