Love and Care for Family Members
If we pretend to cultivate diligently, and totally neglect our family, this will become an obstacle to our cultivation. This will cause the cultivation progress to halt for a long time as the family issues need to be resolved. How are you able to fight a battle when the backyard is on fire? So the family issue will be the biggest hurdle that impedes your progress and you will find that: "Strange, I have been diligently cultivating, and I did nothing that harm you, why are you so angry with me?" This is because you have changed the way of life too abruptly, and your spouse or children may not have got used to it. Be aware to give some time and space for the change (for cultivation), do not be too abrupt, and practice like a renunciate (a monk or nun). Showering them some care and love at the appropriate moments will not consume too much of your time. This helps us in developing the habit to always observe and care for others.
We tend to forget about the people who are closest to us. Some are very helpful and caring to outsiders but do not care much about their family. Why is the approach not consistent? Why does our compassion not reach out to our family? This is not being attached to our family, but if family issues are not managed well, we will be bothered by it, feel suffering and also have regrets. If you feel apologetic to your family members, do express your remorse. If you feel your practice is made possible because of their support, then be thankful and praise them. So in front of them, tell them how apologetic and remorseful you are, sincerely and say from the depth of your heart, "Sorry, I have really neglected you!"
I hope everyone will progress together. We must not let one progress, yet cause his/her family to be in an unhappy & gloomy state, and think that this is a form of heroic sacrifice for Buddhism. Or you may say, "Ah! You have no experience (about family)." Does one who know about the sufferings in hell, must have gone there before? Please really try doing it.
In life, the amount of time that we can meet and come together with each other is not long. It is predestined that we come together in this lifetime but we quarrel, fight, and even give a cold shoulder to each other daily. In reality, when the end of one’s lifespan draws near, you will realize, "Aiya! I really owe you too much! I have disappointed you so much!" By then, all is too late to remedy. Life is short and passes quickly. The opportunity that we can sincerely care with all our might for someone is little. Hence, if you have the chance, do spread your love to your family.
Someone mentioned that a loving couple will increase the desire for worldly matters and will obstruct the will for renunciation in future lives. However, are uncaring and a cold attitude not obstructions to the Bodhicitta? Why will caring for others definitely increase desire? If the other party cares and provides for you daily, yet you do not care, do you think that it is right? It is unlikely that Master Jih-Chang wishes to see us having broken families after learning Lamrim, right? This is not the mission for the establishment of the Dharma Enterprises! So the perception – I want to practice, I am right, I should not have any feelings for you; having feelings increase desires and I want to renounce – all are reason for your cold attitude towards others. In fact, you are finding an excuse for your own self-centeredness and not caring for others. On the contrary, because you want to cultivate, the more you should have care and concern for others.