I must have been 7 or 8 years old. My dad had taken me and my sister out to dinner. It was some little Mexican restaurant. We had placed our order at the counter and my dad had paid. We went and sat down in a little booth and my dad pulled out his wallet to put away the bills he had just been given as change. I saw him flip thru the bills a couple of times and then stood up and said he’d be right back. I watched him walk over to the counter where we had ordered and hand the guy, whose eyes had gotten a bit bigger, a couple of the bills back. When he came back to the table we asked him why he was giving away his money and he replied “Oh, well he had just given me the wrong change.”
My dad was always doing stuff like that. I remember when my dad had visited me in college. We went to the botanical gardens together which was free for residents (which meant telling them your zip code when you walked through the front door) but had a $20 entrance fee everyone else. The gardens were tiny and only took about 10 minutes to walk through so I told my dad, “just use my zip code, everyone does it and they don’t care.” He just shrugged as we walked up to the front door. When they asked for his zip code he gave them his and they charged him a $20 entrance fee. I said “Dad, why didn’t you just give them mine?” He answered, “Because that wasn’t the truth.”
My dad never lectured me. He just lived his life, followed his beliefs, and I watched, and I took in, and I learned. A couple of years ago I decided that I wanted to start teaching Dillon about the spiritual life, about being a good person, about right behavior and moral attitudes. Although I spend a lot of my own time thinking, studying, and working on these areas, I really had no idea how to share them with my son. I am a follower of Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings on spiritual living and meditation techniques so I decided to contact his Self-Realization Fellowship for some help. I spoke with the Brachmacharini who offers me support with my own meditation and trails through daily life. We talked for a while and I shared my concerns… that I didn’t want Dillon to grow up self obsessed, focused on things, unconcerned about other people and the world around him. She said to me: “Kyra, are you practicing your meditation daily?” “Yes” “And are you following the lessons and teaching of the spiritual life?” “Yes yes, I’m trying” I replied impatiently, “but I need help in teaching my son. I don’t know how to talk to him about these things.” She was very patient and reassuring with my obvious sense of inadequacy. She told me that I am teaching my son every day through my own life. Children take in what they see… they watch, they listen, they learn by example – just as I had learned from my dad. It was a sobering talk which made me take a close look at my own life – at the things that I do, what I spend my time on, how I talk to my child and the people around me. I started to see myself through my child’s eyes, recognizing that I am so much of his world, and there he is, taking in taking in taking in. He is watching me. Watching me when I’m in traffic, when I’m angry, when I’m dealing with stress, when someone is disagreeable with me. I wonder what kind of person Dillon will remember me as when he is grown. What will he have learned from me? What will he remember from his childhood? What are the stories that he will tell?
All I can do now is do my best, always do my best.
“When we realize how powerful the example of our daily life is, we will start to try finding ways in making daily improvements in the way we think, feel and act. This calls for a thoughtful look at ourselves, and at our habits and attitudes.” - Eknath Easwaren
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