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Blog » Dharma Friends » Thoughts about studying Buddhism » The Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty of Repaying It

The Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty of Repaying It2013-01-10


By / Linda Young Lin


My name is Linda Young Lin. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you how I tried to repay my parents’ deep kindness. Filiality is the root of humanity, the foremost of the ten thousand virtues and the foundation of all cultivation. Our parents are living Buddhas who reside in our very own homes. If they are still alive, we have the good fortune of being able to still serve and repay them for their bottomless wells of kindness. Being filial means doing things that will please them and avoiding doing things that will hurt or make them worry. Ever since I studied the Buddha Dharma, I realize the profound deep kindness of parents and the difficulty in repaying it.

My mother was a well-rounded lady; she was artistic, excelled in academics and sports. She became a very dedicated and compassionate school teacher and always staying late after school for her students. One can only imagine the amount of time and effort she put into her own children. Because my mother was a schoolteacher, I had a pretty solid foundation of knowledge before I even started first grade at the age of four. I was in third grade and only six years old when I participated in an essay contest titled “My Dear Mother.” In my paper, I wrote about how much I loved my mother and how she cared for me from morning to night. I wrote about how she always brought me to school on crowded buses, but would always let me sit down at the first available seat despite her being pregnant then. At mealtime, she would allow me to eat early when the food was nice and warm. . She made sure that I did my homework as soon as possible after school so I can go to bed early at night. Although she was often tired after work, she always made time to patiently answer all my questions. Whenever I was sick, my mother would stay up late by my bedside. Surprisingly, I won first prize in the contest. My mother, along with the rest of the school staff, was very pleased that I noticed what my mother did for me. At such a young age, I do not think that I knew what gratitude was just yet, but what I did know was how happy I was for my mother’s loving care. When I later became a mother myself, I realized how valuable my mother discipline had on me and how much I was willing to sacrifice for my own children when I readily put their needs first and did not expect anything in return.

Even though my mother was mentally sharp and intelligent, she unfortunately suffered from very poor health and consequently needed full time care. In order to repay my mother’s kindness, I decided to take care of her when her health deteriorated. I could not be able to do it alone, but, thanks to my husband and children who cooperated fully so my mother can move in and stayed with us. We tried our best to make her stay as comfortable as possible, making sure she got her meals on time and received medical attention as needed. I am very happy that my mother decided to be a vegetarian in her later years.

I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to take care of my mother during her old age when she needed it most . I regretted very much I did not have an opportunity to take care of my father but would like to thank him for playing a very important part in my life as well.. For seeing the importance of English, he ensured that I learn that foreign language at an early young age.Without that good foundation, I would not have been able to successfully gamer jobs and perform as well as I did in them when I moved to the United States later on in my life. I know I could never repay all of their deep kindness and the sacrifices they made for me. Ever since their passing, I have continually been trying to repent offences for the benefit of my parents by practicing the art of giving and cultivating blessings, and then sharing the merits with them.

I am very thankful to Buddha for giving me obedient and filial sons. Growing up, they pitched in to help with household chores and also lent a hand when I was caring for my mother. Consequently, they were exposed to the constant care and attention given to their grandmother, so it became very natural for them to care for me when I had my bilateral knee replacement few months ago.

Knowing that I would be helpless after surgery, my second son insisted on paying for my rehabilitation at a nursing home. Despite it being winter, my eldest son never failed to come and visit me daily, rain or shine, during the five weeks that I stayed at the nursing home and make sure I was okay. My youngest son was out of town and exceptionally busy with his schoolwork, but called often to check in on my progress. On the occasions that he did manage to come back, he would get in late at night just to see me and provide support. It was really heartwarming to know that my sons cared enough to want to come and spend time with me rather than stay at home with their families, warm and comfortable. These displays of filiality I believe are absolutely the result of cause and effect. All the residents at the nursing home were happy for me when they saw that I had visitors everyday. It was heart wrenching for me, however, to see seniors , all dressed up in the early morning in the hopes that someone, particularly family members, would come. Unfortunately, more often than not, they ended up being greatly disappointed when no one would show up for days and sometimes weeks. I was very fortunate and feel blessed for my sons’ and others’ constant flow of love, and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart for their best wishes, prayers and nutritious food they cooked for me. Without their kind support I doubt I would have been able to recover as well as I did in such a short time.

I have never regretted giving up my career to care for my children and mother. The satisfaction I get from knowing my mother enjoyed a peace of mind during her old age, as well as the fact that my sons turned out to be such filial and responsible adults are the best rewards that no amount of money can be exchanged for. Regardless of how old and independent her child becomes, in the mother’s mind, her child will forever be that same child she brought into this world. She will presumably think of him often and constantly pray for his well-being, but will not have the heart to call on the possibility of disturbing him.

Therefore, in order to lessen her anxiety, it is up to the child to contact the parents regularly rather than just on father’s or mother’s day. I told my sons not to spend their money buying me expensive jewelry, clothes or fresh flowers, but to instead simply let me know whenever they have a few minutes so that I know they are doing okay. I think most mothers will agree with me on this. If you can spend hours chatting with friends, why not spend a few minutes talking to the two most important people in your life – the ones who brought you into this world and helped shape you into the person you are today. Additionally, not only should you respect your own parents, but sons-in-law and daughters-in-law should regard their parents-in-law as their own biological parents as well by addressing them properly and giving them due respect.

Last but not least, I would like to share with you the following poem I read several times a day to remind myself of the deep kindness of my parents:

“How much love, compassion and attachment must have stolen their handsome youth away. How many worries, anxieties and attachments must have caused their hair to turn gray. Streams of tears have rolled down because of me. Their love and compassion are like the flowers that bloom forever. Who in the world could be more supreme than my father and mother?”