Fatherhood does not happen suddenly and nor does it happen overnight. It is a process that begins from a young age when we start looking up to our elders as role models. We seek out their advise on matters that are important to us. To be a good advisor, one has to learn to communicate sufficiently well. It requires us to use and understand our mind.

The Mind is the focus of Buddhist thought. Through meditation, we learn to harness the full power of our mind. In the early days, meditation is not easy and it feels like you’re doing nothing. It can be an irritating and sometimes infuriating experience. When you open your eyes, however, you realise that there is no one there. It is your mind that is causing you distress.

We do not become enlightened simply by meditation. We become enlightened when our lives become a living meditation. Whether you are at a concert, at a dinner or even sitting in a boardroom–your entire life should be a meditative experience. This can only happen when we recognise the mental patterns that seem to plague our thoughts.

At first, we notice what is bothering us. As we deepen our practise, we realise the root cause of that mental distress is something else altogether. Once we release the mental patterning at the root, we can create new mental patterns. We can look at life from a higher perspective.

This is not to say that we detach from the world. This is so that we always think before we act.

The Thought

What was the thought that entered your mind that led you to behave in a certain way or take a certain course of action? Was it an original thought or was it simply something you picked up from your environment? We actually generally do not have many original thoughts. Most of our ideas about the world, about life, about money and so on are a product of our upbringing, our exposure and our education.

Now, let’s take an eagle’s view on the matter. Have you ever been up on a high building? How small everything seems from that vantage point. The city you once loved, the home you once lived in and even the people you once cared about. From the vantage point of the eagle, it is far away. But does that mean that the eagle is not aware of what is going on?

Eagles can literally see kilometres ahead. Their vision is that great. They have foresight. That is how they are able to see their future prey. One particular sense that’s particularly heightened for men is their vision. Are we all visual creatures? Perhaps. But I do think that certain senses are heightened for men. When we can ‘see’ clearly, we make better decisions.

The story of Odin is the story of the one-eyed father who could see more with his one eye than he ever could with two. It is a myth that draws our attention to all that we will need to give up to receive this heightened state of awareness. It requires sacrifice to become a father. It requires us to sacrifice our inner child and accept responsibility for ourselves as well as those around us.

Selfish people rarely succeed as parents. Why? Because parenthood is a sacrifice. All good parents all over the world are the same. They will sacrifice for their children. Why? Because the sacrifice is worth it. We are grooming the next generation. We have the vision to do so. Why? Because like the eagle, we are seeing kilometres ahead.

Without this vision, we only live in the moment. While it probably won’t be a bad life, it also won’t be a forward-looking one.

The Eagle as an Inner Father is a planner. He is analytical. He thinks things through. He does not simply jump into things. He stops to assess the situation before he takes action. I feel that women don’t always have that luxury once they become mothers. The baby cries and the mother has to respond.

The goal is the still same. The instinct and the response, however, is different.

Garuda

All over Southeast Asia and particularly in Indonesia, you will see carvings and sculptures of Garuda: the King of Birds. He is Lord Vishnu’s vahana mount and in Hindu thought, Buddha is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu. Nowadays, when most people hear the word Garuda, the first thing that comes to mind is Indonesia’s national air carrier.

In Hinduism, a vahana is what a deity uses to travel. It signals the aspect of the deity that is manifesting itself in the natural world. While Lord Vishnu is associated with many animals, Garuda is significant for it harks back to the Vedic creation myth. Garuda was once captured and imprisoned by the Nagas. The myth is an allegory for how our mental abilities remain dormant if we always give in to our survival instincts.

Eventually, Garuda does manage to free himself. Once he does, he becomes the mount of Lord Vishnu. In mythology, the eagle is always shown capturing the snake. It is a symbol for the fact that when our mental awareness expands, we finally find our freedom.

The Balinese wooden statue of Vishnu riding Garuda. Purna Bhakti Pertiwi Museum, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, Jakarta. Image Credit: Gunawan Kartapranata

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