you are born

February 19th, 2013

eggshellFor everyone.

You are born.

Let’s consider the facts before we get carried away.

You are born and no one—neither doctor, scientist, high priest nor philosopher—knows where you came from. The whole world, and your mother within it, was remade by the mystery of your conception. Her body, mind and heart were multiplied by a magical algorithm whereby two become one and one becomes two.

You inhale and open your eyes. Now you are awake.

By your being, you have attained the unsurpassable. You have extinguished the fear and pain of the past, transcended time, turned darkness to light, embodied infinite karma, and carried forth the seed of consciousness that creates an entire universe. All in a single moment.

Now that you are here, you manifest the absolute truth of existence. You are empty and impermanent, changing continuously, turning by tiny degrees the wheel of an endless cycle. Just a month from now, your family will marvel at the growing heft of your body. They will delight in the dawn of your awareness. You will grab a finger and hold tight, turn your head, pucker your lips and eat like there’s no tomorrow. You will smile. Six months from now, the newborn will be gone. Within a year, you will be walking the earth as your dominion. And although your caregivers might think that they taught you to eat, walk and talk, these attributes emerged intuitively from your deep intelligence.

You are born completely endowed with the marvelous function of the awakened mind. You are a miracle. You are a genius. You eat when hungry and sleep when tired.

You are a Buddha. But in the same way you will forget the circumstances of your birth, you will forget the truth of your being. And by forgetting what you are, you will suffer in the painful, fruitless search to become something else, striving against your own perfection to feel whole and secure. By your attachment to desires, you will squander the chance of infinite lifetimes: the chance to be born in human form. Luckily, the chance to be reborn—to wake up—arises every moment. Your body is the body of inexhaustible wisdom. When will you realize it?

Every moment is the birth of enlightenment and the death of delusion. If you don’t believe it, have a baby. Or, simply notice in each instant that you are giving life to a world that is brand new. Mothers face fear, sickness and pain to be handed a crowning glory: the opportunity to bring a new life home and leave an old life behind. We are each, no matter what, given this gift right now.

To be sure, birth is not apart from death, not its opposite, not its foe, but synchronous: one thing.

In giving birth, we lose is what we no longer need: the beliefs of who and what we are and what we can and can’t do. Parents learn, by a painful transformation, that life is not ours alone, not measured by centimeters, not defined by what we like, want or think. We get a good look at how much trouble we cause; how stubborn, selfish and terrified we are; and how much growing up we still have to do.

I have so much growing up to do.

We learn the true nature of love as effortless and abiding, flowing naturally and forgiving everything. This love is compassion, and it is born when we are no longer deceived by appearances: the illusion that “I” exist separate from “you,” the “you” that I blame when I am selfish and angry. Compassion is the fearless essence of life. It endures, enhances and sustains itself. It is good.

As a parent, I have learned that I have limitless love to give, and I can start by loving myself. I can love, trust, and care for my own body. I can illuminate my own mind and open my own heart. I can change habits, practice discipline, overcome fears, and quiet my criticism. I can be generous. I can give myself away. Above all, I can keep from harming my child and anyone’s child. After all, we are the children of one another, interconnected and interdependent. By our practice, we learn to parent ourselves and care for everyone.

The facts of life keep reappearing even while we are carried away by blind fear and distraction. So here is another chance.

You are born. You inhale and open your eyes. Now, are you awake?

In honor of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, born Feb. 24, 1931.

Excerpted from the upcoming book Paradise in Plain Sight ©2014 by Karen Maezen Miller. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

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21 Comments »

  1. Again, you make my jaw drop, my eyes tear, and my heart sing. Having just had my second a month ago I read this and said, “Wow” , although I usually do when I read your words. Thank you!

    Comment by Diamond Cambareri — February 19, 2013 @ 7:51 am

  2. Hit it outta the ballpark, Maezen! Happy birthday to you!

    Comment by ben — February 19, 2013 @ 8:01 am

  3. Hello, and much gratitude to you for your words on this morning in particular. I am writing to you to solicit a favor. I run an international non-profit called Circle of Health International and we support mamas and babies in war and disaster areas. We are in gearing up to a significant fundraising opp in early March and I am asking seemingly kindred folks like yourself to help us get the word out that day, either by Tweeting about the event on the day, or hosting a gust blog. I’d love the change to tell you more about the work, and this day we are hoping raise enough to fund a new school for mamas in the biggest refugee camp in Jordan hosing Syrian refugees.

    Either way, thanks for the clarity and goodness you remind me of, and for the pure work you are engaged in.

    Much gratitude,

    Sera Bonds
    Austin, TX
    COHI/Founder

    Comment by Sera Bonds — February 19, 2013 @ 8:04 am

  4. Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever. Thank you. I am awake. Your words ripped through me here.

    “In giving birth, we lose what we no longer need: the beliefs of who and what we are and what we can and can’t do. Parents learn, by a painful transformation, that life is not ours alone, not measured by centimeters, not defined by what we like, want or think.”

    Comment by Shawn — February 19, 2013 @ 8:13 am

  5. Thanks. I was starting to think parenting is something we promise to do, becoming a bit unseeing of the boundless flow of love.

    Comment by Chris — February 19, 2013 @ 8:13 am

  6. Thank you.

    Comment by Michelle — February 19, 2013 @ 8:25 am

  7. What Dime said! Quite possibly the best thing I have ever read. Thank you!

    Comment by marcea — February 19, 2013 @ 8:29 am

  8. I think I will read this each morning…sigh. So lovely.

    Comment by Kirsten — February 19, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  9. Spoke to my heart. Thank you :-)

    Comment by Cassandra — February 19, 2013 @ 8:47 am

  10. I am having a child in 3 days, and this post was meant for
    me. What a beautiful, poignant evaluation of this journey I’m on. Thank you so much!

    Comment by chris — February 19, 2013 @ 9:18 am

  11. Wonderful! Straight thru my heart!

    Comment by James — February 19, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  12. I cannot but help to notice that you chose a picture of something “cracked” for your message…

    Comment by MJ — February 19, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  13. Dreamed about you last night. Then I woke up!

    Comment by Jena — February 19, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

  14. Oh, yes. I cannot find words to write. Except that reading this conjured up my new grandson and my now grown daughters. I hope to grow up some day, too.
    love all your thoughts, thank you

    Comment by Jude Smith — February 19, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  15. Oh, Maezen I love all your writing but this was so special for me. I work with women and their babies. I wish everyone of them could see this.

    Comment by Suzanne — February 19, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

  16. I would almost say: Amen. So spot on. Beautiful.
    A few weeks ago I came to the insight that everything will be allright. My childeren will be allright. They might go out and do things I might not prefer for them, but that is my will for them, maybe/ probably not what they came here to do.
    Everything is good. They will flower when it is their time in their own way and colour, not when I want them to (but I do hope to see it).
    O and also, good is exactly good enough, good is just fine, wanting everything to be “perfect” or “the best” that’s what is killing us as a society and as people and as humanity, because we become pitted and closed against each other and get to feel worthless in the proces.
    Have a wonderful day.

    Comment by Simone — February 19, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

  17. […] how much we strive to shed who we are for who we used to be – knowing full well we absolutely could never return to that person because, honestly, how […]

    Pingback by The Balance of Motherhood Lies Within — February 19, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  18. Absolutely gorgeous writing; even more beautiful depth of thought. So glad I stumbled upon your blog tonight.

    Comment by Laura @ Mothering Spirit — February 19, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

  19. Maezen,
    My heart, my mind, my everything is blown by this piece of truth. I mean really, just completely moved, speechless, beyond words. This is outstanding beauty. I am so privileged to have found you and to work with pregnant mamas. Your teachings allow me to touch so very many people and I want you to know that during the solitude of your writing you are lighting a small flame that is igniting a much larger fire. It’s a movement really. You are making so many mamas awake and aware and alighting hearts and minds. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Comment by Michelle — February 19, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

  20. Truly living Dharma

    And that last line:

    “You are born. You inhale and open your eyes. Now, are you awake?”

    Comment by Adam — February 23, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

  21. I love the authenticity of your work. As a writer, you inspire me to find so clear a voice. As a mother, thank you for this lovely post. Stepping back to grow up now.

    Comment by Melissa — February 24, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

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