“Your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey that’s no way to say goodbye”
That time of year is almost upon us. Exam results will soon be arriving and millions of boyfriends, girlfriends, parents and siblings will soon be saying goodbye as young adults leave the nest and set off to distant realms for further education.
For some whose loved ones are leaving this may be a sad and painful time, so how can you prepare in the next couple of months in order to make this a happier event?
Here are some things to consider……………
1. Be Happy!
This event is the culmination of our young persons hopes and dreams, their hours of hard slog have paid off, they now have the necessary qualifications and can set about taking their first steps as young adults. This is what they’ve hoped and planned for, so now we can celebrate their success and be happy for them. If we can focus our mind on their happiness and rejoice for them, in turn our own mind will become happier.
In the words of the Buddhist Master, Shantideva:
“All the happiness there is in this world arises from wishing others to be happy”
(Quoted in Eight Steps to Happiness, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso)
When we focus on wishing others happiness, our heart opens, we become less self-absorbed and as a result we become more joyful and happy. Remember the joy we felt watching them open ‘Santa’s’ presents every Xmas? No self concern whatsoever but experiencing happiness at the joy on their faces. This is what we need to do now, focus on their joy and experience that same happiness.
Why do we sometimes find it hard to let go?
This is due to ‘attachment‘. We hold the belief that our happiness is dependent on the other person: being there , being nice to us, behaving as we think they ought to, but as explained below, happiness is a feeling within our mind, it is not dependent on anything or anybody outside our mind, therefore it is within our control, so we can choose to become happier by transforming our mind so it remains peaceful and happy regardless of external circumstances.
Our happiness is not dependent on our young person being here, our happiness is not their responsibility but our own. Yes, we may miss their presence but we can decide now to become positive thinkers, having light, happy, loving thoughts for them rather than heavy, negative, or selfish thoughts which focus on ourselves. They need us to be happy for them, they will benefit from seeing our confidence in their ability to stride forward independently, rather than seeing our insecurity coming from attachment.
3.Removing the blinkers.
In our daily life we normally try to cling onto some sense of solidity, we are blinkered, doing our utmost to convince ourselves that the world around us (and the people in it) are fixed and permanent, while refusing to look at the obvious evidence: absolutely nothing is fixed, solid or permanent. Not even the home we live in or the garden we sit in, exist in the way we perceive them.
Our home came into existence as a result of many causes; the architect, surveyor, builders, joiners and materials, to name but a few, and we know by the number of repairs regularly required, that our home is in a state of continuous decay. The amount of work we need to put into our garden tells us how many causes and conditions are needed to create it, yet its beauty doesn’t remain fixed for one single moment, everything is in a constant state of flux, not only in our garden but in our whole world .
This blinkered view prevents us accepting how our world and its inhabitants really exist, and causes us much pain and heartache.
We know intellectually that our tiny precious bundle in a romper suit will grow into a cute little child, a rebellious teen and eventually an adult who leaves home, however in our hearts we refuse to accept this and our attachment to the status quo and our ignorance of reality causes us much pain at various stages of this process.
We hang onto images of the past, of our sweet innocent child, and are shocked at the speed at which time passes and how quickly the time has come for us to part. We fail to live in the present moment, we fail to see that everything changes moment to moment.
We grasp onto the good moments, trying to make them last, which they never can, and we suffer with depression in the bad moments forgetting yet again, they are impermanent . As George Harrison said “All things must pass”.
We can probably still remember the shock when our sweet little bundle became a hormonal teenager…”It’s just not like them, they’ve never behaved like this”. But although in some ways it was ‘them’ reacting to the changes taking place in their body, in reality it never was ‘them’ , as we perceived them, at all. How is this?
We always look at the people in our life, including our children, as fixed solid entities, how we perceive them at any one moment is how we believe them to exist – permanently; “This is the real Peter” or “This just isn’t the real Peter”. But in fact their isn’t a ‘real’ Peter in the way we imagine there to be.
Peter (and everyone else) exist as a product of all the conditions that caused them to come into existence in the first place. From conception, through childhood to adulthood, their continuing appearance has depended on the food they ate, the fluid they drank, the air they breathed, the carbon dioxide they exhaled and many more conditions, including your own mind, without which they would not be appearing to you right now.
When your mind is in a happy state you look at them adoringly, however when your mind is in an angry state they don’t seem quite so wonderful as they did just 30 minutes ago, yet in that same moment to one of their friends they are still appearing to be adorable. This is because everything we perceive in the world around us is dependent on our mind……..Great News! This means we don’t have to suffer sadness and despondency when we say goodbye, we work on our mind so we can experience the situation as a happy joyful time. We understand that changing causes and conditions now result in ‘Peter’ becoming an independent adult, a great moment we have contributed towards.
We need to understand that this is the way our world exists, this is our reality. Everything changes moment to moment, you are not even the same person you were when you began to read this article, you have inhaled and exhaled oxygen and carbon dioxide, countless changes have occurred in every cell of your body, your mind has changed, experiencing different thoughts or feelings as you read. Whether you feel happy, sad, impatient or poignant right now depends upon your own mind. There are no feelings within this stream of data, the feeling you experience exist only within your own mind, which is more good news! Something existing within our own mind is within our control and we can change it for the better. Positive thinking is all we need, we can perceive the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, focusing on our young persons’ joy, rather than our mind of attachment which doesn’t want to let go of them.
So the simple answer?
Share in their happiness. Hold positive loving thoughts in your mind, wish them all the happiness they can ever find. Let go of attachment by understanding that your happiness is within your control and knowing that things can never remain the same anyway……….