The small illustration sitting quietly on the bottom of page 14 of this story reminds me of a scale in perfect balance. This is how I interpret the image in relation to my parenting: one side of the balance represents me giving my children sweet love, encouragement, awareness of their strengths and greatness, and freedom of expression, while the other side of the balance represents me giving them firm guidance, limits, and corrections.
When I think about my sadhana, I see that Gurumayi also balances these in her role as my Guru. There have been times when Gurumayi has given me enthusiastic, encouraging guidance. There have been times when she has given me stern, penetrating guidance. The effect of both is to help me experience greater love, meaning, and freedom in my life. I experience both as forms of her love that are equally necessary in helping me reach the goals of my life.
California, United States
This story was thought-provoking for me. The man places the blame for his current situation on his mother. But what about his own role? Most parents are not perfect and have ways in which they inadvertently fail their children. For example, my mother expressed her love by doing all the household chores and by prioritizing the preferences of her children and spouse over her own. As a result, I left home without knowing how to do household chores. Paradoxically, I also expected other people to prioritize my needs or thought that I should prioritize their needs rather than my own.
As an adult, I have seen it as my responsibility to fill in the gaps of what I didn’t learn from my mother. I have been blessed to learn many of these lessons through offering seva. Considering other people’s needs and preferences to be as important as my own is something I continue to develop to this day. I wish the man in the story would have taken responsibility and changed his destiny.
California, United States
As I read this powerful and daunting story, I wondered what lessons I still need to teach my teenage children before they are grown up and ready to leave home. A few things came into focus—things I have been trying to teach them for years, but that still haven’t fully taken root in them. As I reflected on this, I felt empowered to persevere in doing my best to help them learn what I think is important to learn.
Over the years, I have felt that my primary responsibilities as a mother are both to love and accept my children for who they are, and to help guide them toward becoming the best versions of themselves. Remembering this story will help me stay focused on speaking up and taking action when it is time to do so. This is not easy—teenagers often don’t welcome parents’ guidance. So I am especially grateful for the infusion of purpose and power that this story has given me.
California, United States
This vivid and tragic story is something I will not soon forget. For that, I am infinitely grateful. I feel there is a power inherent here that, if understood and assimilated, can actually save lives.
The story speaks to me as a mother who, from the first moment I held my baby, was overcome by profound love. Showering him with praise and appreciation was the easy and natural part. Discipline, however—that took, and continues to take, focused and consistent effort.
By studying Gurumayi’s teachings, I have come to understand the importance of serving something greater than myself. As a mother, if I don’t remain objective and vigilant, and address behaviors in my child that could spiral out of control, who am I really serving?
In addition to showing me my responsibility as a mother, the story speaks to me deeply as a human being. The son saying, “Don’t cry now, Mother,” reminds me that I need to honestly review my life and make necessary changes so I’m not crying when it’s too late.
New York, United States
A cautionary tale indeed! Many are the times I’ve been told I was spoiling my daughter, that she needed to experience more consequences, and that we were giving her too much leeway. But I cared for her so much, and thought she was so special, and hated to see her suffer. I was always ready with a helping hand so she didn't experience too much pain.
Now as a young adult she is really struggling. She has not had practice in dealing with difficult situations where she has to work to find a solution, where the answer is not handed to her on a silver platter. A few months ago she told me she was angry at us for not giving her the teachings and training she needed for her adult years.
You don't get do-overs with raising children; if you make mistakes, you and your children must face the consequences. Gurumayi's strong teaching to mothers (and fathers) in this tale is so full of love—and incredibly valuable. May it find root in our hearts and bear great fruit.
California, United States
This story really made me think long and hard about my parenting. As I kept wondering what else this story is teaching me today, I realized how important it is for me to be willing to receive corrections—from any source—with gratitude and grace.
Minnesota, United States
Although this story startled me with the intensity of its imagery, I appreciated this rendering of “A Cautionary Tale” for not shying away from an important teaching. I have learned from Gurumayi and my own mother that it is important to set clear boundaries and firm expectations with a child about what is right and wrong.
I am not a mother of a child, but I play a mothering role with my niece and nephews. I show them lots of love while also maintaining discipline, especially when it comes to how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. I've learned so much from Gurumayi over the years, and guiding children by teaching them love and respect for others is one of the most important of these lessons.
After reading this story, I bowed my head in gratitude to my mother—who, whenever someone was praising me, would respond "Yes, but..." and then would proceed to highlight one of my shortcomings, as in, "Yes, but I wish she would do a better job of cleaning her room!"
I used to think that my mother's "Yes, but's" were an expression of how my achievements fell short of her standards. But now I realize that my mother was really teaching me the virtue of humility, and inspiring me to strive to become the best person I could be, in all aspects of my life. Each of her "Yes, but's" ensured that I didn't grow up to become like the protagonist in this tale!
New Mexico, United States
As I read this story, it was intense yet I know its teaching is the truth. I am very grateful to my parents and the teachers I had growing up, as what I received from them all led up to my meeting Baba and Gurumayi. It was Baba and Gurumayi's training that has taught me, and continues to teach me, discipline and keen viveka, or discrimination between the pairs of opposites. That training is so precious and has informed the way I navigate my way through life and how I continually refine my quest and path to moksha—liberation.
Hawaii, United States
Breathlessly, I read this story. I was shocked and at the same time I felt the profound truth in the words of the condemned man to his mother.
In my understanding, both mothers and fathers are to children as the Guru is to a disciple. As this story reminds us, it is the dharma, the duty, of parents to tell their children the truth and to explain to them the rules of the world, to explain what are good and bad qualities, and to encourage the good qualities of their child.
I also think that it is the duty of parents to make their children ready to meet a Guru. The Guru transmits his knowledge only to worthy recipients, and a well-educated child is worthy of receiving the highest truths. The Guru's knowledge is the highest gift one can receive, and a sign of the greatest love of the Guru.
I found this story to be moving, beautifully told, and gripping. It reminded me of a comment made to me many years ago by a Siddha Yogi, who shared that what she appreciated most about the Siddha Yoga path was the insights she gained from it. As a new Siddha Yoga student, I was surprised to hear that was what she most appreciated .
Yet, as the years roll by, the significance and transforming power of the insights that come to me through Guru's grace have become ever more precious; they always provide a new jumping-off space toward my own spiritual goals. And lately, these insights—including those in this story—have been so nourishing for the garden of my sadhana.
This story is a reminder for me to make a greater effort to take full responsibility for my own choices, my own actions, my own words, and my own thoughts—past, present, and future. I am very grateful for this gift of insight.
Tennessee, United States