Family life is a big part of human life. Every culture has to deal with it. From my experience, family life is a problem in both the west and the east. It is hard to have a normal mind about it. In the west, if I understand it correctly, it is called Family Baggage. In the east, there is no such a word. It is pretty hard to come up with such a word in a Confucius culture.
Chinese culture make the family life too heavy. Because of Confucius, it is deeply rooted in Chinese mindset that young people have to respect their elders, which often implies the elders don’t need to respect the young people. In China, human relations are heavily burdened by this state sponsored and reinforced human relationship hierarchy.
Coming back to China, re-entering family life, I treat everyone as friends including my parents and other family members. They are friends of my life that I happen to have chances to stay more time with. Strangers on the street are also my friends. But they are friends I haven’t had a chance to know more of or stay more time with. I treat them equally as friends. I help them equally. If strangers on the street happen to need more time from me, I will give more time to them. This renewed way of living the family life has been working really well. The artificially imposed Confucius values are slowly dissolved and true human relationship is emerging.
Since my childhood, I have been questioning the parental love. I always feel if parents really love their children, they should show more patience. So I was expecting more patience. Otherwise, parents are just giving birth to offspring and raise them just for their own sake. I also think the relation between parents and kids should be like friends. It should be equal.
Now it is the time for me to manifest how to be a son. It is my time to show the patience. I am the one who has a lot more knowledge. I should have more patience in communicating that knowledge to my parents.
When I came back last time in January, it gave me a little surprise when I re-entered family life after many years. But i was able to realize quickly what this was about and knew the antidote was to treat everyone as friends.
When I was in the states, i didn’t quite connect to my friends who were talking or complaining about their hardship in their families. I was quite distant from the family life and has been so for quite a long time. So it was hard for me to connect to them.
The true nature of human relationship is equality or we can call it friendship. However, Confucius, in its teaching of family values and hierarchy, doesn’t recognize the equality of human relations.
Buddhism teaches treating every man as your father and every woman as your mother. This is to dissolve the burden of the concept of father or mother and go back to the equality of human relations. Buddhism also teaches treating every stranger as your friend. This is also to dissolve the self-imposed barrier to equality and the truth.
I can also tell you everyone is your stranger. You have to do everything by yourself. How do you manifest everyone is a stranger? How do you manifest everyone is your friend and there is no stranger? You can be friends with everyone.
True friendship is what we are doing together in this world. True friendship is communication. When you treat everyone as a friend, you can get rid of the family baggage, and maybe for the first time, you will realize what it means to have friends in this world and how wonderful it is to do things with friends together.