If your father is alive, wear a red carnation on Father’s Day. If he has passed on, wear a white one. Thich Nhat Hanh, the popular Vietnamese Zen teacher, shares the Japanese Mother’s Day tradition of “a rose for your pocket.” We have modified this at our Zen Center for Father’s Day as well.
This small sign speaks of life and death: We owe our birth to our parents and we depended upon them as children for our survival. Whether they are now dead or alive, Father’s Day is a time to express gratitude and appreciation, which is the essence of the spiritual life. We wake up, instead of taking parents for granted or focusing on any negatives.
Not only at Father’s Day, but also before every meal the Zen dedication includes the recitation that “this food is for our teachers, parents and all sentient beings.”