I am not a parent, yet this book moved me deeply. Any experience can be used as a learning ground for spiritual development. Karen Maezen Miller shows how to take everyday experiences and transform them into profound learning. In addition to revealing Zen philosophy to my western mind, I gained a greater appreciation for the trials and tribulations my Mother had to go through in order to assure my entrance into this world, and into adulthood.
I contemplate often the catch 22 of parenthood – that there is absolutely no way to be perfect, to “get it right” all the time. I watch parents as they make their mistakes. I reflect on my own childhood and see now that the imperfections of my parents were part of what made them perfect parents for me. It was a combination of their strengths and weaknesses that helped form the person I have become.
Still, I often witness the guilt of parents. Only a parent can know what that is like:
“Certainly, all manner of events transpire in life, but where exactly does this thing called a mistake take place? Only in our mind – our judging, critical, labeling mind. The mind that provides the nonstop narrative to our lives, ‘There you go again. Can’t get it right. You’ll never do it. Big mistake.”
The author outlines many moments of her first year of Motherhood, revealing her inner experience of daily events, and then reflecting on the teachings of her Zen Teacher, Taizan Maezumi Roshi. She brings us through the workings of her mind as she contemplates Zen teachings, and then reveals the lesson:
“Life is full of fits and starts. Some things are easy; some are not. Some things go and some things stop. Do your work; then set it down. There are no failures. Forgive and forget yourself.”
Connect with Karen Maezen Miller at her blog, Cheerio Road.