Nothing surpasses the holiness of those who have learned perfect acceptance of everything that is.
In the game of cards called life, one plays the hand one is dealt to the best of one’s ability.
Those who insist on playing not the hand they were given, but the one they insist they should have been dealt – these are life’s failures. We are not asked if we will play. That is not an option. Play we must. The option is how.
Anthony de Mello
Many times, we are so fixated in how things should be that we become blind to what we have in front of us. We are busy trying to fix the world as given to us, that we are unable to realize that things all right. Just as the poem says: “…whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” Or as Sophocles’ Oedipus, would put it: “Despite so many ordeals… my advanced age and the nobility of my soul make me conclude that all is well.” As for me, it has taken me some time to understand and accept this, and many times, I still cannot.
As of late, I have been developing this Yoga of Parenthood:
I. Oneness: We are one consciousness in many bodies. Your child is not separated from you; help her remember (or not forget) who she really is.
II. Non-attachments to the fruits of action: Your child is not your property. Help her in any way you can and remember that her life is hers to decide.
III. Flow: Your child will develop at her own pace, which is just right. You cannot and should not try to mess with her unfolding.
IV. Responsibility: For reasons that you cannot grasp, your child chose you as her dad. Even if you do not understand the extent of such task, feel honored to do it and do your best.
V. Apprenticeship: you are each other’s master and disciple. You know things that she does not; she knows things that you have long forgotten. Enjoy the paradox.
VI. Humbleness: No matter how much you try, how much you worry or how much you plan; you have no control about anything.
VII. Availability: Your child needs you all the time at any time. It should be your conscious and free choice (and not an imposition or burden) to be there for her; hoping neither for praise nor for gratitude.
VIII. Waking up: Just as monks aim towards enlightenment to free all sentient beings, vow to become a better being every day, to point the way to your child.
IX. Trust: Trust the process. You are not the one that actually makes things happen; in fact, you do not even know how to do this job, so surrender to something/one above that guides your actions.
X. Unconditional acceptance: No ifs, but or maybes. No expectations and not judgments. There are not good or bad children, just the one before you.
XI. Non-projection: Your child is not an extension of yourself or the fulfiller of your dreams. Support her in her choices; allowing her to make her own mistakes. Give your child space to be. Do not train but educate. Do not lead but point the way.
XII. Wonder: We live in a world of wonder. Encourage your child’s curiosity and amazement about the universe we live in. Help her witness the shared Spirit within and everywhere. Imagination, fantasy and spirituality are closely related.
XIII. Balance: Life is yin and yang. Discipline and freedom. Work and play. Body and soul. Firmness and gentleness. Rules and flexibility. Strength and tenderness. Emptiness and form. Life is balance, allow your child to learn it.
XIV. Freedom: Love your child and let her free. Not smothering (or better said ‘sfathering’) or guilt trips allowed.
XV. Acceptance: Something bad can happen at any time, even to your innocent and lovely child. Accept that that is the way of life. Make friends with fear.
XVI. Cluelessness: Most of the time, you will not have the slightest clue of what am your doing, just like many before you. Aim for best but allow yourself to be “good enough”.
XVII. Recognition: See god in your child’s eyes and let her see god looking at god in yours.
XVIII. Leisureliness: Slow down and do less: It is in your being and not in your doing that you can connect with your child. Teach her, and learn from her, the beauty of timelessness.
XIX. Self-reliance: The true eternal parent is within your child, you are just a teacher, just a reflection. Help her realize that. Help her to trust herself.
XX. Attunement: Your child knows what she needs. Do not assume that you know better. Be still and listen.
XXI. Awe: Human existence is a permanent miracle, you are privileged enough to have a first front row in the unfolding of a new life.
XXII. Presence: Your child needs her dad here and now. Neither expensive toys, fancy clothes, nor the promise of a bright future substitutes your presence. Be there.
XXIII. Love: When in doubt, relax and give way to love. All that you need is within you even if the ‘you’ that know does not know it.
XXIV. Impermanence: The baby will grow up. The teenager will leave home. The adult will get married. The woman will become a mother. On the other hand, maybe none of that will ever happen. Do not cling to any stage or dream, simply enjoy to its fullest each moment and let it go. Do it now.
XXV. Perception: Babies can cry but cannot tell you what is wrong or where it hurts. Do not think that things will get better with age. Be sensitive and attentive to what is not being said.
XXVI. Judgment: In due time, your child will judge your job as a dad. If you are lucky, she will be wise and kind enough to look both at your mistakes as well as what you did right. However, do not count on it.
XXVII. Lightheartedness: You are not supposed to know all the answers. Enjoy the ride.
XXVIII. Faith: Ground yourself in the Absolute, in whatever name you give to it. Have faith in the reasons beyond the reasons for being a dad. Convey, more with deeds than words, that sense of groundness to your child.
XXIX. The three gifts: Loving kindness, simplicity and humbleness. Practice them, teach them to your child by your actions and let them be your legacy to her.
XXX. Uncertainty: Everything in this yoga may be wrong.