As Father's Day approaches, we anticipate our annual Precepts Retreat and the sixth annual conference of the Silent Thunder Order (STO) July 16th, 2016. Beginning with Wednesday the 13th arrival and orientation, you are invited to attend the retreat, for any part or all of it (our way of celebrating the one and the many). This time of year we remember our fathers, probably because Mother's Day was invented first, and then someone said, Oh yeah, maybe we should have one for fathers, too.
I have been fortunate to have what I would call strong relationships with both my biological father, and that person whom we in Zen often refer to as our "dharma father," our root teacher. Of course, we have many teachers in Zen, just as we have many mentors in our lives, some of whom function as father figures to us, in various ways.
Then, as our lives move on, we find ourselves in similar relationships to younger people, including our own children. Buddha is said to have come to regard all people as his children, and not in some condescending manner.
The problem with being a father is that it usually begins at too young an age for us to have the wisdom that we gain in hindsight. And with young children, some of the damage done by failed relationships is not recoverable, much like data files on a crashed hard drive. We cannot necessarily fix everything that has been broken, and time does not heal all wounds. Relationships, especially biological ones, are exceedingly complex. Frankly, I have not had the kind of relationships I would prefer, to my own biological children, a son and daughter from my first marriage. But they are better now than they once were, and improving.