Last Mother’s Day, I listened to my mother stifle her sobs on the other end of the telephone, speaking of inconsolable loneliness.
Evening prayers – the prayer hall reverberated with the monastics’ melodious chanting. But my heart had drifted elsewhere, gliding along the roadmap of another kind of life: graduating from college, finding a job, spending time with my parents, continuing my Lam Rim studies…Was it so important that I remain as a monastic? My other siblings are still monastics. I can return to look after my parents. I could almost persuade myself. Suddenly, my mother’s words interrupted my reverie “I want to die.”
Seven years ago, the same stifling sobs, these unsettling words were uttered by my mother who suffered from depression. I asked myself, “Truly, was I only able to accompany my mother, in her search for ending her life?” My heart abruptly ground to a halt. I saw myself standing at the crossroads, at a loss. I could only pray to Teacher Zhen-Ru for an answer.
Thereafter, my mother had the opportunity to come to Prince Edward Island. She even met Teacher Zhen-Ru. From her bag, Mother fished out a photograph. On it was her beloved children that she had gifted to the monastery. Teacher Zhen-Ru held the photo and scrutinized it for a while. She gave a luminous smile, held up the photo and told the Venerables behind her, “Look, future geshema.” Mother’s eyes lit up.
I listened to my mother recount this memory while she stood before me. Her past sorrows were gone and replaced by a sense of self-pride. Her children were going to become a beacon of light for Buddhism, showing all the path to enlightenment. It was then that I became aware that my life, as a monastic studying and practicing the wisdom of Prajna, was for all mothers, for their hopes in leaving suffering and attaining happiness. Perhaps this was the answer that Teacher Zhen-Ru had for my mother and myself.
This Mother’s Day, I would like to tell my mother: “Mother, I am still charging ahead on this path. Let us strive together!”