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The purpose of this meditation is to recognise the truth of the fact that all living beings are my mothers, and then to contemplate this in the light of death and impermanence.

I began by thinking about the scientific fact of cause and effect. All things are part of a continuum. Conventionally speaking all objects are simply the current configuration of matter which was previously something else. All objects depend on their previous continuum to exist. Things cannot suddenly appear from nowhere. I thought of objects simply being the current appearance of a continuum which stretched back into beginningless time, like train tracks disappearing into the distance.

I thought of my mind. In this respect my mind is just the same as manifest objects. It depends on its previous moment to exist, and has done so since I was a baby. But did my mind suddenly appear from nowhere when I was born? No, babies are conscious in the womb. So when did my mind actually start? The first moment of my mind related to this body occurred the moment my father’s sperm mixed with my mother’s ovum. But this mind MUST have had a previous moment – it cannot simply appear from nowhere. The previous moment was the last moment of my mind related to another body. I am convinced of the logic of this line of though, and with this idea accepted, there is no question that I have had countless rebirths, and therefore countless mothers.

I let the truth of this argument sink into my mind, and recognised that all living beings have been my mother in past lives. I felt like I was surrounded by my mothers, and I recognised them in the people around me every day.

I then thought about what death and impermanence means to this thought. It occurred to me that death destroys everything except my very subtle mind, which goes on from body to body, life to life. It destroys my ability to recognise my mothers by sight, but it cannot stop me recognising that all living beings are my mother.

I stayed with this recognition that all living beings are my mother, and let a warm and affectionate feeling develop towards them all.


May all living beings develop the sound conviction that everyone is our mother, and thereby become Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will regard all living beings as my mother, and maintain a warm and friendly feeling towards them all.

Meditation 2/8

The purpose of this beautiful meditation is to generate a feeling of equanimity for all living beings, and then to contemplate this feeling in the context of death and impermanence.

I began by thinking about what Geshe Kelsang says in The New Meditation Handbook. He says that ‘Our feelings towards others are normally unbalanced’, and ‘For as long as we have these unbalanced feelings our mind will be like a rocky field that cannot support the growth of Mahayana realisations.  Our first task, therefore, is to free our mind from these unbalanced attitudes and develop genuine equanimity – an equally warm and friendly attitude towards all living beings’.

I thought about how our perceptions of people are usually very superficial, and we decide on how we feel based on these perceptions. For example, if a person looks like a (insert your dislikable stereotype here), then we think ‘I don’t like ‘them’ and immediately feel dislike and aversion. But if a person looks like a (insert a member of your ‘approved personages’ here then we immediately develop attachment towards ‘them’.

These appearances give my mind no peace. They shove my mind into aversion or attachment, but never peace.

But if I look beyond the label I give people, I can see that they are just like me; living beings searching for happiness. Their superficial appearances are just that, superficial, and are not a suitable basis for developing strong feelings of aversion or attachment. I focused on the idea of seeing beyond their superficial appearances, and seeing them as equal to each other and to myself. I naturally developed the only emotion which was valid – a warm and friendly feeling, which I dwelt on for a while.

I then thought about what this means in the context of death and impermanence. These appearances are manifestly impermanent. I know from personal experience that people who I have had a frosty relationship with have ended up being very close to me. And, unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If these appearances can change so much, which is the true, essential person I should relate to? Again, the only sensible attitude is one of warmth and friendliness.

I let a warm and friendly feeling fill my mind and pictured my mind being very stable and peaceful in the company of all living beings. This feeling will allow my mind to hold more advanced realisations, so I felt very happy and peaceful too. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.


May all living beings develop true equanimity and become conqueror Buddhas for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to maintain a warm and friendly feeling to everyone, no matter how they appear or behave, knowing that it is my basic spiritual practice to maintain a stable mind amidst the turbulence of samsara.

Modern Buddhism

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