I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father.
You've got to love that language, no? With its great rhythms and repetitions, its clarity and compassion... Thanks to Khengsiong for highlighting it. The quote also brought to mind an agonizing ethical question from Thailandchani, posted also around Mother's Day. At the time I had not read the Buddha's thoughts on the matter, or I would have referred her to them at the time.
Advance notice: Ellie and I leave for three weeks in Europe next Tuesday. We're traveling first to England for a couple of days, then on to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Moscow, and back to England for a few more days to visit our grandchildren. With time to spare and a little luck with WiFi connections, and The Buddha Diaries will likely morph, once again, into a travel log. In the meantime, its author will be much distracted--as he has already been in recent days--by the usual pre-flight nerves and the necessities of putting things together for the journey. Forgive the inattention..