Received a suprsing response to my posting yesterday on the Dalai Lama and suffering. The writer [who I hope will read this posting] seemed upset about my reference to a Catskill Mountain Jewish comic routine and the fact that the Dalai Lama, not a parent, could not understand true suffering.
As someone who is Jewish and very familiar with this type of ironic humor I found it fascinating that someone would be offended. Perhaps that represents my own cultural perspective and I apologize to anyone was offended by my statements. The truth, however, is the truth and Jewish humor has always been so compelling and touching because it can target that underlying poignant, even sad reality. Only a parent can understand how difficult it is. Only a parent can truly know how we want to protect and direct our children's lives away from their own pain and into a life of joy and serenity.
The existential truth is that we cannot. No one can live another soul's journey. Just as we cannot do so for our parents or grandparents, we cannot truly live the journey of children or grandchildren. We can be present for them to the best of our ability but in the end their suffering is their own.
The Dalai lama or any great spiritual leader can only guess, surmise or empathsize with the challenge of parental suffering. But, of course, being a parent is often a source of intense joy and love as well.
Joy and suffering are two sides of a parent/child relationship. The goal is to be present and aware of all aspects of it.