Our Parents’ Blessings
There is an ancient saying in the Hindu tradition that unless we receive the blessing of our parents, we cannot progress on our spiritual path. This saying may conjure images of an elderly parent dressed in long flowing robes laying their hand upon their child and blessing their journey. Few of us will ever receive this type of blessing, yet there is much wisdom in that saying that applies to us today.
Rather than waiting for something to come from our parents, we receive their blessing when we come to an inner peace about why we were born to them and the lessons and gifts that come from that experience. To truly progress on our spiritual journey we must attain this inner peace about our mother and father. This peace will give us more motivation in our lives, allow our relationships with others to deepen, strengthen us as parents, enhance our career and bring more energy and health to our personal lives. Coming to this inner peace is not often easy, but is so worth the inner effort.
Some people have had difficult childhoods with parents that have behaved inappropriately. In our thirty years of counseling and workshops we have heard unbelievable stories of inappropriate behavior. There are parents who have sexually, physically and emotionally abused their children. There are parents who have abandoned them, never to be heard from again. One man told us about his father who once held a gun to his head when he was a child and threatened to kill him if he tried again to interfere while he was beating up his mother. These can be very traumatic experiences. How does one ever come to peace with a parent who could do such a thing to their child. The peace doesn’t come from condoning or accepting the behavior, nor does it come from hating the parent. The peace comes from understanding the spiritual lessons and gifts and that come from having a parent that behaved in such a way. Sometimes a person has to fully experience or even express their hate, anger and resentment in order to find this understanding. The ultimate goal, however, is to find the lesson and gift rather than to remain in the angry unforgiving place.
Some parents died at an early age, leaving the child with an extreme sense of loss. Paramahansa Yogananda, who brought yoga teachings to this country in the mid 1900’s, experienced a very big loss when his beloved mother died suddenly when he was eight years old. He describes the loss as overwhelming to the point where he didn’t want to go on living. This single experience propelled him on his spiritual path to find the heavenly mother – the source of all mothering. He was then able to go on and successfully open thousands of hearts to the divine mother. My own mother experienced a devastating loss when her mother died when she was six years old. Now at the age of 87, she can still feel her mother close to her and credits her strong spiritual belief to her mother. Both my mother and Yogananda learned the lesson and received the spiritual gift.
Most of us have grown up learning the Ten Commandments. I’m sure we have all heard, “Honor Thy Father and Mother.” Does this mean to honor everything our father or mother does and listen to all their advice. I don’t think so. I feel that the deeper meaning is that we are to honor the soul essence of our father and mother, and the spiritual gift and lesson that is ours to learn by being their child. This is deep and worthwhile work on oneself. It is much easier to simply say my life is no good because my parents did such and such to me. Therefore I have an excuse to fail in relationship, career and life in general. Rather than this powerless victim approach, a more mature way of living is to learn the lesson from having been with our parents and then make that gift part of our strength and motivation as a person. In this way we are truly set free to become the person we want to be.
So this Mother’s Day or Father’s Day when you are sending off that card, or any other time, try to understand the lessons and resulting spiritual gifts from having this person as your parent. Feel the ways your relationship with your father and mother have strengthened you and caused you to grow spiritually. In this way you will be receiving the blessing of your parent.