The Tao of Motherhood
By Vimala McClure, Tracy Cunningham
New World Library Copyright © 1997 Vimala McClure
All rights reserved.
* * *
Tao is the oneness of all things.
You and your child come from
One and journey toward One.
You are essentially the same.
Right mothering springs from
this knowledge: the One in either
responds to the One in both.
The bond is oneness, and cannot
When doubt and uncertainty arise,
return to this simple truth.
Be in oneness, and the illusion of
Be still and allow unity to be revealed.
* * *
Like the eternal Tao, a wise mother
gives birth but does not possess. She
meets the child's needs yet requires
Observe how great masters raise
up their dearest disciples. Observe
how nature raises up the plants
Great teachers take no credit for
their students' growth, yet they
will go to any length to teach
them what they need to know.
Nature requires no praise,
yet it provides for the needs
of earth's inhabitants.
Mother is the reflective principle,
the balancing agent for the child.
Like a guru, she allows the child to
make mistakes and loves the child
without condition. Like nature,
she allows consequences to unfold
and balance to be restored when
it is lost.
She intervenes only when the right use
of power is required.
* * *
Right mothering meets the
Focusing on what the child should
not be draws resistant energy. Pointing
out what the child should be feeds
self-hatred and struggle.
Ask yourself, "What is my child telling
me about his needs at this moment?"
This is not always easy. One child's
needs may be more obvious — or
more acceptable — than another's.
Meeting needs and obeying
commands are not the same.
The wise obey the Divine Law
and thus fulfill the need of the
moment through action or
non-action. They are responsive,
This has nothing to do with what
society says is proper. It has everything
to do with the Infinite Good as it flows
through the here and now.
Do not reward performance.
Rather, respond to Spirit
expressing the Way. You are a
mirror with which your child
sees — and corrects — himself.
* * *
Remember, you and your child
are travelers through infinite time.
How you interact is important
enough to change lifetimes of karma;
yet it is an insignificant drop in the
ocean of relationship through which
you both move.
Keep in mind the endless nature
of being, and your journey will
* * *
Raise up your children with
great reverence for the Consciousness
that moves in them. Treat them
with respect, even in their infancy,
for they are not yours.
Reverence and respect are not the
same as worship; children thrive on
The child who feels your respect
during silences is nourished more
than the child who is constantly
fussed and chattered over.
* * *
Mother is the feminine principle.
She represents the yin, the anima,
the receptive, the earth.
Though she must at times take
the role of the masculine principle,
it is the feminine which gives
her power and from which
she draws her strength.
She teaches her daughters to
respect their feminine nature.
She teaches her sons to respect
their feminine side and thus
The truly feminine mother
never cringes or defers.
Her strength is unshakable,
like the earth upon which we
walk but which can topple us
with a single deep breath.
* * *
Everything which endures can
only do so because Eternal
Consciousness gives it sentience.
A mother who gives herself
completely to her infant meets
herself in the dark and finds
In the hours between midnight
and dawn, she crosses the
threshold of self-concern and
discovers a Self that has no limits.
A wise mother meets this
Presence with humility and steps
through time into selflessness.
Infants know when their mothers have
done this, and they become peaceful.
Who, then, is the doer? Is it the infant
who brings its mother through the veil
of self-concern into limitlessness? Is it
the mother, who chooses to hold
sacred her infant's needs and
surrender herself? Or is it the
One, which weaves them both
through a spiraling path
You can sit and meditate while
your baby cries himself to sleep.
Or you can go to him and share
his tears, and find your Self.
* * *
Water benefits us without taking
from us. It cleanses us, nourishes us,
and calms our restlessness.
So is a mother to her child. From the
moment of birth, a child's well-being
is her only concern.
A wise mother cleans and discards
the child's waste without comment.
The child's excrement, its tears, its
rages, are all allowed to be and
discarded without emotion.
A wise mother does not judge her child.
* * *
There is great power in being a
mother. It is easy to think you control
your child and his destiny; that you can
mold him into your ideal; that his
imperfections are yours to correct.
The power of a mother's love
is like gold in a temple.
Used for personal aggrandizement
it brings pain and suffering.
Hoarded, it benefits no one.
Used rightly, with benevolence,
in time of great need, it serves.
When you are about to use
your power in your relationship
with your child, think again.
Is there another way to
accomplish your goal?
Retreat and be still. Contemplate your
choices. When you choose to use your
power, use it justly, with great calm,
and do not waver.
* * *
Strive for clarity in your own life.
What motivates your feelings?
We often live out the past over
and over in our relationships.
We sometimes fail to see the real
child, for we have superimposed our
own pain upon our children.
Clear yourself. Find the child within
you, heal her, and set her free. As long
as the child in you weeps and cringes,
your power as a mother will remain
Polish the mirror of the self and your
child will see herself more clearly.
* * *
The empty spaces make
wholeness. The emptiness in a
pot makes it valuable; you can
fill it with food or water.
Pay attention to what isn't. Listen
for what your child does not say.
Observe what she does not do.
Similarly, know that your child
uses your empty spaces. What
you do not say resounds. What
you do not do impresses.
* * *
Life with children is naturally noisy.
Can you find the silence within the
noise? Can you feel the peace
within the turmoil?
If you cannot reflect in the chaos
of the moment, withdraw.
Make time for yourself to turn
inward and digest your life.
Whether you realize it or not,
Mother is the pivot of the family.
Not you, but the eternal Mother
expressing Itself through your choices.
To allow the Mother principle
to work to center your family,
take time for yourself.
Otherwise, the self will be
constantly grasping for its share.
This grasping obscures the Mother
principle from within you and
from your family, and leaves
everyone alone and lost.
* * *
It is said, "She who values her body
more than dominion over the empire
can be given custody of the empire."
Taking care of yourself is your right
and your responsibility.
If a mother values herself, her
children value her. She teaches
self-esteem by her example.
Her peaceful demeanor
communicates love to all who
come in contact with her.
Knowing when to sacrifice the self and
when to nurture the self comes with
daily mindfulness. Pay attention
to your body's signals. Observing
your feelings each day, eventually
you will be able to take time for
yourself before it becomes an angry
demand. This enables you to give
of yourself appropriately, without
* * *
Parenting is at times confusing. There
will be moments when you truly do not
know. Should you exert your authority
or step back? Should you give advice or
remain silent? Should you offer help or
allow a mistake to be made?
When you cannot see what is
happening, relax and look gently with
your inner eye. The harder you try to
take hold of a situation, the more
difficult it becomes.
Let go. Trust in the Way
which follows its own flow.
Allow the Great to live in you
and work through you
for your child's greater good.
Return to the core: a relationship
of love is more worthwhile than
a philosophical position. When
doubt arises, give way only to love.
* * *
The ancient teachers demonstrated
their realization of the Way.
These ancient teachers were often
women. They were mothers and
sisters, aunts and grandmothers.
They meditated. Through their
relationships, they taught the
art of being.
Because they meditated, their
depth made them seem inscrutable
and their wisdom profound.
The truth is, they simply knew
how to be human.
They observed behaviors and acted
with precision and care, never acting
recklessly. They behaved with dignity
and grace and won the respect of others
without trying. They respected others
and treated children as human beings.
They were strong yet yielding, like ice
ready to melt. They were simple, like
the uncarved block of wood. They were
receptive, like a valley between high
mountains. They were full of life and
involved in their families, yet they were
able to be still and become as deep and
clear as pure water.
These ancient grandmothers did not
need to go away into the caves or forests
to become enlightened. They were
* * *
Everything arises from
Consciousness and returns.
The universe is the play of the
rising and returning of millions
of beings, all becoming One.
You and your child are both on
this path too.
It is impossible to keep this
awareness of your destiny
awakened all the time. But daily
meditation can bring awareness
to your thoughts and actions.
Awareness brings constancy to
your relationships. Constancy allows
your child to release fear and follow
Meditate on Oneness. Release the
small self to the Infinite, and the
Infinite will take care of Itself.
* * *
A wise mother does not
unnecessarily interfere with her
Your children have their own
process — their own thoughts,
feelings, and reactions — which
must be allowed to unfold.
If your childhood was painful, you
may get overinvolved with your
children's lives and smother them.
Or you may find yourself forcing
them to think and feel the way
you do, to adopt all your values
and live the life you wish you had.
If you do not trust your children's
process, your children will not
trust anyone or anything. Your
confidence in them builds their
confidence in themselves.
Assist your children in such a
way that they think, "We did it
* * *
When you forget that you and your
children are instruments of the One,
dogma takes over.
You begin to think in judgments of
yourself and others:
"All mothers should (stay home,
have a career, be involved with
school, help with homework, keep a
spotless home ...), therefore I'm not a
good mother if I don't."
Or, "All children should (be polite,
respect their elders, help at home,
get good grades, win in sports, be
popular, appreciate good music, read
great books ...), therefore my children
are bad if they don't."
When truth is forgotten, acceptance,
tolerance, compassion, and flexibility
give way to judgment, intolerance,
meanness, and rigidity.
Children who are closer to their birth
and thus to the experience of Oneness,
rightly reject hypocrisy.
* * *
Throw away gadgets. Discard
expert opinions. Forget the toys
to stimulate intelligence. Don't buy
devices to simulate what is real.
Return to the real. Connect with
your children heart to heart.
Let them gaze at you, at trees
and water and sky. Let them feel
their pain. Feel it with them.
Touch them with your hands,
your eyes, and your heart.
Let them bond with the living,
breathing world. Let them feel
their feelings and teach them
Return to the uncarved simplicity.
* * *
The real education teaches us to
be whole human beings.
Be concerned with this: that you,
your marriage, and your home
teach health and balance and truth.
Any further education merely
augments this basic course.
* * *
The wise remain aware of the
spirituality of life.
Every mother has felt the
stillness and the stir of Eternal
Consciousness in her womb.
Bring that mysterious, silent moment
into the clamoring present.
* * *
Truth is in paradox:
Surrender and you get
everything. Bend and be strong.
When you reach your limit and
are exhausted, new energy rises
in you. When you release
others, they come to you.
The wise know this: Let go
in order to preserve.
Be empty and fulfilled.
* * *
There is no natural pouring-forth
that lasts forever. When it rains, it
stops. The wind blows, and then
Learn to use your words wisely,
to communicate rather than to lecture.
Speak your truth, state your feelings,
then stop. Your actions, in silence,
speak louder and will be heard.
Teach your children this:
A human being is greater than
a human doing.
* * *
Your children are not you.
To try to show the world what a good
mother you are diminishes you. To try
to show the world what good children
you have diminishes them.
Heal your insecurity by holding to the
truth. The One Consciousness flows
through all without boasting.
* * *
Eternal Consciousness is not
a thing. It has many names and
no name. It is within and beyond
everything. It is the essence of
Your child depends on you. You
depend on the earth. The earth
depends on the universe. The
universe depends on the Supreme.
The Supreme is subject to
nothing. It is the Great Mother,
and She holds you in the palm
of her hand.
* * *
Pay attention and stay centered.
You carry the mantle of "Mother,"
the eternal principle of balance and
When your children's energy is
scattered, be grounded. When
your children throw tantrums,
be still. Know what you stand for.
Be firm and consistent to teach your
children about boundaries. Thus you
will root them in health and release
their souls to limitlessness.
Excerpted from The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure, Tracy Cunningham. Copyright © 1997 Vimala McClure. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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