Celebrating and bringing in the New Year with beloved family members can nourish old bonds, heal old wounds, create new experiences and allow for support for future endeavors. Hearing, seeing and watching so many family members flying all over to connect with others families stimulated thoughts in my mind about the families closer to us as well as deeper concepts of family. Hearing of different perspectives on the holidays, gift-giving and receiving and the “mind traffic” that can occur based on different belief systems and philosophies about this holiday season helped me appreciate all the different mind universes that live together on this planet. Recently, I shared in a previous post about inter-species families with gorilla’s as well as all the varied species that share my sanctuary with me.
Today I came across a beautiful commentary that spoke to me regarding all these varied observations and interactions of what family means. This commentary is from one of my favorite books, “Glimpse After Glimpse, Daily Reflections on Living and Dying” (Harper SanFrancisco, 1995) by Sogyal Rinpoche, the author of the renowned book “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. Sogyal writes:
“Just as the ocean has waves, and the sun has rays, so the mind’s own radiance is its thoughts and emotions. The ocean has waves, yet the ocean is not particularly disturbed by them. The waves are the very nature of the ocean. Waves will rise, but where do they go? Back into the ocean. And where do the waves come from? The ocean.
In the same manner, thoughts and emotions are the radiance and expression of the very nature of the mind. They rise from the mind, but where do they dissolve? Back into the mind. Whatever rises, do not see it as a particular problem. If you do not impulsively react, if you are only patient, it will once again settle into its essential nature.
When you have this understanding, then rising thoughts only enhance your practice. But when you do not understand what they intrinsically are…the radiance of the nature of your mind….then your thoughts become the seed of confusion. So have a spacious, open, and compassionate attitude toward your thoughts and emotions, because in fact, your thoughts are your family, the family of your mind. Before them, as Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: “Be like an old wise man, watching a child play.””
Upon reading this commentary this morning, I had a totally expanded concept of family, from our inner family to our outer family of all beings on mother earth and beyond. The inner family of our thoughts and emotions are an integral foundation for how we relate to ourselves and all other beings. Our thoughts and emotions which radiate naturally from us allow us to perceive and experience family in so many varied ways. Once we recognize that, we have the opportunity to embrace a more loving compassionate perspective on all our families, inner and outer, from our thoughts to a bloodline family to friends and to all beings that we share mother earth with. Once we appreciate all these levels of family, we can create a more harmonious, compassionate world, again, both inner and outer. Thereby, we can have a huge impact on the health and happiness of the planet through the impact that these compassionate action steps, of cultivating our loving thoughts and emotions, can have on the conscious and emotional commons and on global coherence. Through our positive thoughts and emotions we are making a difference in the world, thought by thought, moment by moment. These positive thoughts and emotions can be greater gifts to our families than any material gifts. There is great truth in the saying that the greatest gift one can offer is being”presence” for the other being, rather than physical “presents”.
One of my many wishes for all kindred spirits for the New Year is that may we all be blessed with a loving, peaceful, healthy, awakening, fun family of inner thoughts and emotions and may they all be blessings to all other outer family members that truly transcend all labels!