Given that many of us may have complicated, difficult or even unhealthy relationships with our parents, how can we reconcile the teaching that our parents are our teachers? The word teacher in Sanskrit is guru, gu is darkness or ignorance, and ru is remover. Guru is not only a person but an enlightenment principle. Our relationship with our parents is an agent in which we can remove our own ignorance, even though the way in which this teaching is delivered to us may be challenging or not according to our desires.
Stand in tadasana (mountain pose) and visualize your birth mother standing behind you. Visualize your birth father standing behind her. Visualize your grandparents from your mother's side standing behind him. And visualize your grandparents from your father's side standing behind them. Visualize this long lineage of ancestors standing behind you. Each one of them is responsible for the gift of life they have given you. Each one of them existed in form to give your existence to you. Notice how you stand. Are you standing firm and tall because you feel supported by all of them? Or do you feel unstable and insecure because there is a perception that they were not here for us? Standing poses teach us how to root down to the earth. Our sense of safety in this world has little to do with the material things we possess, and more to do with the stability in our relationships with our parents.
As you move through one standing pose to another, notice your sense of stability, and not just in terms of physical balance, but how safe and secure you feel standing in this world. If there are unresolved issues between you and your parents, how are these affecting your current relationships? How are these affecting the way in which you move in the world? Our parents, including even our ancestors, still live within our material experience. If we feel hatred or anger or resentment towards them, then it means that we have unknowingly kept these hatred or anger or resentment within our physical body. If we reject them, we also reject a part of who we are.
Our relationship with our parents may not be perfect. We see their humanity, their struggles, their shortcomings, their mistakes. But they too are human beings just like we are, striving to do the best that they can, living their lives according to what they perceive will make them happy. Our acceptance of this means that we are freeing ourselves from their obligation to us. Our acceptance means that we accept their apologies, even when they were not given, especially when they were not given.
Sit in a comfortable position. This time visualize your birth mother seated behind you in padmasana (lotus pose). See the version of her that is enlightened. Visualize now your birth father seated behind her. See him in padmasana, enlightened, free. Visualize all of your ancestors behind you, all of them in padmasana. All of them enlightened. All of them free. They are our teachers that teach us that in order to be free, we must first set them free.