Seeing All Beings As Your Mother

Bodhicitta or the Thought of Awakening is the aspiration to realize enlightenment for the benefit of others. Shantideva called it “the jewel that is the seed of pure happiness in the world and the remedy for the suffering of the world.”

Enlightening beings, called bodhisattvas, altruistic heroes of the mind, seek to generate the thought of awakening and then maintain the thought as they fare on the Buddha path. In Tibetan Buddhism, bodhicitta is said to have six causes.* The first: Seeing All Sentient Beings as One’s Mothers.

The idea is that since the beginningless beginning of time we had moved through the cycle of birth and death leading a countless number of lives. If our previous lives are numberless, so too are the mothers who have given us birth. Nagarjuna said, “If we divided this earth into pieces the size of juniper berries, the number of these would not be as great as the number of times that each sentient being has been our mother.”

One method to develop deep compassion is to visualize that all beings have at one time been your mother and with a boundless heart, cherish them. Osama bin Laden was your mother. Barack Obama has been your mother. All your friends have been your mother. The person who hates you or injures you has been your mother. Your present mother has been your mother numberless times . . .

In Praise of Mother Beings

mother beings: let them each and all
come into my mind’s embrace, so deserving
of respect and honor, may I be a cloud to
shower blessings down upon them, may I be
the rain that washes away their pain, the wind
that blows away their fears, homage to all
mother beings

mother beings: all beings alive and to live again,
in every form and sense, in every lonely shining world,
all realms and universes, these innumerable beings
standing walking sitting talking crying laughing,
attending to their plane of existence –  all of them
at some point in the infinite amaze of time have
been my mother

mother beings: the woman down the street,
the man on the corner, the child next door,
the thief in the hall, the killer on the news –
they all once gave me birth in a former life,
bathed me, fed me from their breast, cared
for me, comforted and healed me –  how
could I ever hurt them or hate them or wish
them the slightest ill or disgrace, these my
very own dear mothers

mother beings: I beg your forgiveness,
I confess all my little murders of you, all the
wounds I inflict so coolly and with such ease,
I regret every unkind thought word and deed –
I ask nothing for my own sake but give everything
for your sake, so that no sorrow comes to
anyone else on my foolish account –  show to me your
kindness and love once more by accepting my
apology and blessing my repentance, I who am your son
and the son of your sons

mother beings: may I always remember that we
are inseparable, that I am your blood the blood of inter-
dependence, your flesh my flesh, and may
I always protect you, respect you, be your raft
across the sorrowful sea, your bliss on the crystal
shore, the armor that protects you, the rope that
saves you, the blanket that warms you, the watcher
who watches over you, the crutch you lean upon,
a light to illuminate your way, the medicine that
heals your wounds, may I be the choir that sings
your praises, may I always see my life as
something for your service, may I remember
to love all living beings as they were my mother and
never cease to remember and honor and repay
all precious mother beings

© 2002-2011 dmriley

*1) Recognize all sentient beings as one’s mother, 2) Remembering their kindness, 3) Repaying their kindness, 4) Love, 5) Boundless compassion, and 6) Altruistic intention.