Many, many years ago I knelt in front of my teacher and complained about my father, his attitude to me and his complete lack of understanding with my interest in Buddhism. He had recently said some things that had hurt me very much and even angered me. I needed to share that pain and find some support.
My teacher listened while I poured my heart out about the current situation and finally when I had finished he smiled and said,
‘Ah yes’, he said, ‘the Buddha had a lot of trouble with his father too.’

I could only smile in return as my heart opened. Suddenly the pain had dissolved and my life was back in perspective. The truth is obvious, we all have difficulties with other people and often the closer the relationship the more intense the difficulty. This is how it is to be alive and living in the world.
Before liberation it is the same for everyone, even the Buddha.

But now came the teaching.
This is how Dhamma really works, first the identification of the problem, then the remedy.
‘Your father is an ordinary man living his ordinary life,’ said my teacher, ‘he is not on the Dhamma path, so the responsibility for the quality of the relationship lies with you. You must be kind and considerate to him whilst at the same time, not being the victim in the situation. If he asks you about Buddhism answer his question and explain directly and clearly what you feel, but never give a lesson!
Don’t allow him to feel foolish or small in front of you. Share the beauty of Dhamma but never permit a situation to arise where he feels critised or condemned for how he has lived his life.’

As always, I received the teaching with an open heart and immense appreciation. Dhamma is such a gift in our life and without it we simply struggle and pour blame on everyone and everything else for how we feel. The truth always shows something different.

The responsibility for the quality of the situation was with me, that means in reality, I am in control, now what to do?

I resolved mentally never to speak of Buddhism again to my father unless he asked first and then to follow my teachers beautiful advice.
This plan worked quickly and perfectly and I began to see that every time I had spoken about Buddhism to my father he felt it as a personal attack on the way he had lived so far and consequently retaliated. Also at that time, Buddhism was still quite new in his life and he felt that perhaps I was being brainwashed by a cult or a sect and would eventually give all my money away (what money?).

Some months later, when we could be together in peace without any hidden adgendas, he asked me a simple question about Buddhist life and I answered with a brief and friendly illustration of the five precepts (lay Buddhist moral code of conduct).
When I had finished he looked relieved and said, ‘but that’s what I taught you when you were a little boy.’ He was absolutely right!

Dhamma is not a collection of religious ideas, frozen in time and dragged out on only certain days of the week. It is a real, dynamic and living presence in our lives. The moment we bring this real, dynamic and living presence into our ordinary daily life, everything changes – but all those changes begin with you.

Love manifests as compassion, respect and wisdom, when our relationships with life begin here, we bring a gift to the world.
This is the power of Dhamma.

May all beings be happy

Extract from Buttons in the Dana Box
by Michael Kewley
Published by Panna Dipa Books
ISBN: 978-1-899417-10-0
Available on-line from

Author's Bio: 

Michael Kewley is the former Buddhist monk, Paññadipa, and now an internationally acclaimed Master of Dhamma, presenting courses and meditation retreats throughout the world.
A disciple of the late Sayadaw Rewata Dhamma for more than twenty five years, he teaches solely on the instruction of his own Master, to share the Dhamma, in the spirit of the Buddha, so that all beings might benefit.
Full biography of Michael Kewley can be found at: