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The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong feeling of being held in the love of our mother.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then settled down to thinking about the kindness of my mother.

Mother and babyAs Geshe-la says in Joyful Path of Good Fortune, when we remember our mother, it is easy to take for granted all her kindness, or to forget all the times that she took special care of us. When I was young, I took my mother’s kindness for granted. But I can see from how my wife cares for our children, that they are always her first concern. She thinks of them constantly, and is always doing things for them. She cares for them and plans for them. She helps them and loves them.

I thought of how my mother spent years and years caring for me each and every day. She held me in her arms as if I were the most precious treasure. She kept me close to her, and cared for my every need.

I let my thoughts settle on this feeling of being cared for by the love of my mother. It was a lovely and very moving feeling, and not for the first time, I cried at the power and the beauty of the feeling.

Dedication

May all living being remember the kindness of their mother.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember the kindness of my mother and see how it moves my heart.

The purpose of this meditation is to gain the conviction that other living beings are, in fact, our mother.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation, and then remembered my conclusions from my rounds of meditation on equanimity. Through my meditations on equanimity I have stripped away unbalanced attitudes to all other living beings, and when I see or think of others, I find it easy to keep a balanced and positive feeling towards them.

meghan-o-rourke.credit-sarah-shatz.largeNow, if I think of how my mind must extend back through time to past lives, I can see that I must have had many mothers – one for each life. Where are these mothers now? They are the living beings around me now.

I can understand how people may not be what they appear. I regularly mix with people at my centre who know Vide Kadampa, but are unaware that I write the blog. Occasionally, when they have uncovered who ‘I’ am, I see them go through some sort of shift in understanding. They look at me in a different way. Literally – they give me a very penetrating look – they see me anew for the first time.

This is how people can be different from how they appear, and how by understanding their other nature, it can affect us.

I thought about how our mothers are all around us, wearing disguises. They are unaware of their relationship to us, but we can become aware of it. We can use logic to see the truth of out relationship with others.

I focused on my personal understanding, and how others are my disguised mothers, and felt a deep connection with all other living beings. I stayed with this feeling for the rest of the session.

Dedication

May all living beings see the hidden relationship between them and others, and quickly attain freedom from all suffering for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember that others… are my mother.

The purpose of this meditation is to begin to gain the conviction that all living beings have been our mother through correct reasoning.

I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then started by recalling some of the logical reasonings given the the book Joyful Path of Good Fortune.

I focused on one particular line of reasoning: A barley seed comes from a crop which in turn comes from a barley seed. There is no fixed beginning to the barley seed. Whenever we look at the seed or the plant, it is always in the process of transforming from one state the to the next. There is no beginning or end to the barley seed. Also, the barley seed is a continuum. The seed does not come out of thin air. Many causes gather to form the barley seed, but the main cause is the barley seed of the previous moment. In this way we can say that the continuum of the barley seed stretched into the past.

Continuum of mindWhat is my mind? My mind is a collection of thoughts that ripen in quick succession. The main cause of my mind is the previous moment of mind, supported by many other secondary causes and conditions. My mind of this moment (for example, my mind composing this blog post) depends on my previous moment of mind to exist, and the mind I had a few minutes ago when I was in meditation. And those minds came from their respective previous minds. We can go back looking at where our mind came from to when we were children. There is a continuum of our mind.

When we fall asleep, our gross mind dissolves into our subtle mind, and we lose memory of our waking world. Our mother is forgotten in our dream.

Similarly, when we die, our mind dissolves into our subtle mind, and arises again in our next life, but our memory of our mother in the previous life is lost.

I focused on the ideas that my mind is a continuum which stretches back in time and crosses through the life/death boundary, and the fact that my mind dissolves into dreams where I forget my waking world. These facts demonstrate that I can have had previous lives, and that in each life I had a mother whom I have forgotten. Where are these mothers now? They are the living beings around me today.

I focused on this conclusion, and tried to develop a strong recognition that all the people around me have been (and are) my mother.

Meditation

May all living beings recognise the true nature of the living beings around them, and quickly attain liberation and enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will ponder the continuum of my mind.

The purpose of this meditation is to make the decision to regard all living beings as my mother, and then to think about what this means in terms of reliance upon our Spiritual Guide.

Mother and babyI began by making the usual preparations for meditation, and then started by thinking about how when living beings are born into the human or animal realms, they are initiated by a mother. I thought about the sheer number of living beings just on this planet, and thought about how Buddha said that all living beings have been the mother of all the rest. I was struck by just how many past lives I have had, wandering though samsara’s sufferings.

I now have a precious human life and my mother of this life brought me to it. I let my mind dwell on this relationship for a while, and it became clear to me how precious and special this relationship was. I then extended this feeling of the special relationship to all the humans and animals in this world – and then to all the living beings in samsara. I felt close to them, and felt the loving relationship that would be there between all living beings, if only we could remember our past lives. I focused on this recognition for a while.

I then thought about what this means in terms of reliance upon my Spiritual Guide.

At this moment in time, I cannot establish the truth of all living beings being my mother. It is a hidden fact. I have to rely upon my Spiritual Guide – he says that this is the case, and I have to trust him. I need to examine the pros and cons of believing him. I need to decide if it is a good thing to believe him.

I have already been through all the pros and cons of deciding to regard all living beings as my mother, and my conclusion is that it is such a beneficial attitude, so devoid of disadvantage for myself and others, that I will always try to keep this in mind.

I decided to keep this view for the rest of my life, and focused on this determination for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings see all the rest as their mother, and reap the benefits of this view to propel them to perfect enlightenment.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to remember my determination to regard all living beings as my mother.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong feeling of all living beings having been our mother, while remembering that myself, my mothers and my feelings towards them are empty of inherent existence.

I started by imagining all living beings around me, and all the Buddhas and holy beings in front of us. I imagined that we were all in a pure land, and in essence, composed of wisdom light. In this place, I made the determination to meditate well, for the sake of the freedom of all living beings.

I then did breathing meditation, breathing out my distractions and negative karma, and breathing in good concentration and wisdom. I focused on becoming purer and purer until I felt completely cleansed and pure. I then mixed my mind effortlessly with my Guru’s mind, and meditated for a while.

MumI then thought about how all my experiences are karmic arisings, and that in my karmic reservoir I have the experience of death related to this life. My karma for death was created at the start of this life – death is part and parcel of the ‘human life deal’. I thought of how, after my death, I will take another life. There are seven billion people on the planet – each one has been my mother in the past – each one will be my mother in the future. No-one enters this world without a mother. I thought of all the lives I have lived, each one with a kind mother to cling to. Not to mention lives as animals with my animal mothers.

I recognised that while only an appearance, my mother performs the function of a mother – to produce offspring, to love and be loved. The love is real, although ultimately only an appearance to mind. Yet it has a function to perform. My recognition of past and future lives, of all living beings being my mother, and their ultimate nature, will all function to set me free of samsara, and lead all living beings to that same state.

With all this in mind, I refocused on the recognition that all living beings are fundamentally my mother, and kept that awareness for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all my mothers find peace and tranquillity in the perfection of wisdom – the true nature of all phenomena.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will look upon others and remember ‘you are my mother’.

 

The purpose of this meditation is to realise that all living beings are our mother, and then to meditate on this understanding in light of great compassion.

Beginning with breathing meditation, I calmed my mind until it was still enough to contemplate the reasons why all living beings are our mother.

I began by thinking about dreams. When I fall asleep my mind dissolves and I experience dreams which seem real. When I die, the same process will occur. My mind will perceive my next life and I will have another mother. Since I have had countless past lives, I have had countless mothers – these are the living beings around me today.

I also realised that they have been my father, my brother, my sister, my aunt and my uncle, and every other relation. It seemed to me that living beings were not only my mother, but an entire family tree in one person. I focused on this and felt a real affection for them due to our relationship – I realised that I even had a faint smile. It was lovely and I stayed with the understanding for a while…

I then wondered what this meant in light of great compassion.

It was immediately clear to me that the understanding that all living beings are our mothers, and the affectionate love that I felt were essential to the development of great compassion. Great compassion was like a breathtaking lotus, and affectionate love was like a petal. The flower is incomplete without all its petals, and cannot perform its function. Therefore, I focused on remembering that all living beings were my mother with the recognition of the importance of so doing.

Dedication

May all living beings see the true relationship they have with others, and through this attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will look at others and remember that they are not only my mother, but every other relation I could possibly imagine – in each and every person.

The purpose of this mediation is to meditate on the kindness of our mother, and then to meditate on this kindness in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing

I began with breathing meditation, slowing my mind down until there were no thoughts at all, only an expansive feeling of openness and emptiness.  After a while of enjoying this feeling, I moved on to the main meditation.

I began by recalling just a few words from Joyful Path of Good Fortune by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. He gives an extensive explanation of how to meditate on the kindness of our mother, but when I reviewed it before the meditation, a small section seemed to stand out.

In his explanation, Geshe-la says that we easily forget the great kindness shown to us by our mother, or fail to recognise it by taking it for granted. He points out that we tend to focus on the times when she was unkind to us, and forget all the kindness we received.

This struck me as so true. Today I saw a little boy in a push chair being pushed along the side of the road by his mother. When he is older he will remember almost nothing of the first five years of his life, but every moment of that time he will have been cared for my his mother. She will have shown him so much kindness in those short years that it would take a lifetime to repay it.

I thought of my own mother, suffering from memory loss. Some time ago, when she was still able to remember things, but aware that she was losing her memory, she promised me that she would never forget me. Unfortunately, she was not able to keep that promise. I thought of her saying ‘I may not remember you in my head, but I will remember you in my heart’. And I cried.

I mentally promised my mother that I would repay her kindness ‘I will get us both out of samsara – I promise you, Mum.’

I focused on this feeling of holding my mother and working to repay her kindness by taking us both on the path to enlightenment and reaching the final goal. I stayed with the feeling for a while. I then gathered myself, and moved on.

What does this mean in light of self-cherishing?

Self-cherishing would stop me. Self-cherishing would have it that I was more important than anyone else, and that their suffering is their problem. Self-cherishing would have me take the kindness of others as my right. Self-cherishing would have me turn my back on my own kind mother. I determined to shun self-cherishing and work for the freedom of my mother and all my kind mothers. I returned to my wish to repay the kindness of mother sentient beings, and focused on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings become aware of the kindness shown to them by their mother, and other living beings, and develop a special Bodhichitta which will speed them to enlightenment, for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will look at the people around me, and seeing them as my mother, remember their kindness in this life and in previous lives.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate a strong recognition that all living beings are essentially our mother, and then to meditate on this recognition in the light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing.

I began with breathing meditation to settle my mind, and then moved on to the main meditation.

I started by recognising that the body I have at the moment comprises material which has always existed. My body arose from physical elements which have existed since the start of the universe, and before that.  Since everyone agrees that something cannot arise out of nothing, my body’s causes existed even before this event, since beginningless time.

So it is with my mind. My mind is not physical. I cannot see my mind. I cannot operate on my mind, or directly take photos of it. My mind of this moment arose from the previous moment of mind, and the conditions it experienced. My mind also goes back to beginningless time.

In all my past lives I have had mothers – where are they now? They are all the living beings I see around me now. Whenever I see a living being, I should recognise them as my mother. Just because I do not recognise them does not mean they are not my mother. In Joyful Path of Good Fortune, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso relates the story of a mother who came to a monastery looking for her son, from whom she was separated long before. They could not recognise each other, and when the Abbot introduced them to each other, she wept.

We are like this mother and son. Unless we recognise that all living beings are our mother, we will not generate the special feeling of connection we need to generate Bodhichitta.

Therefore, I made the determination to always regard all living beings as my mother. I felt a bond arise between myself and all living beings – there was only one relationship: Mother and child. It felt extraordinary. I stayed with this feeling for a while.

I then thought about what this means in light of the disadvantages of self-cherishing. Self-cherishing makes me believe that I am the most important and others are less so. But if I can recognise that others are my mother, this will prevent my selfish motivation from taking hold over me. I am naturally well disposed to my mother, and want to care for her and share with her. Recognising all living beings as my mother hampers self-cherishing.

With this in mind I returned to me meditation on recognising all living beings as my mother, and remained on it for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings come to recognise their true relationship with others, and quickly generate Bodhichitta and become enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will regard all living beings as my mother, and think ‘this person/animal is my mother’ when I see or thing of them.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong recognition that all living beings are my mother, and then to meditate on this recognition in light of equalising self and others.

I began with dissolving my Guru into my heart and mind, and remaining with this recognition for a while.

I then started looking at the fact that my mind is a continuum and in my previous lives I have had mothers. All these mothers from my past lives are, in fact, the other living beings I see around me are actually my mothers. Each and every one of them has been my mother in the past, and loved my as dearly as any mother loves her only precious child.

I focused on this recognition and felt a bond with others stretching back through time. I reached a determination that I will keep this bond in mind and always recognise others as, in essence, my mother.

After keeping this determination in my mind for a while, I decided to see what this means in light of equalising self and others. There is a close relationship here, because once I am convinced that all living beings are my mother, I can generate very warm positive feelings towards them easily. This will help me equalise my love for others with my love for myself. I returned to my meditation on the recognition that all living beings are my mother, and strengthened my determination to maintain this view throughout the day.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise their true relationship with others, and through this recognition experience the true happiness of enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will maintain the view that all living beings are my kind mother.

The purpose of this meditation is to generate the strong belief that we have actually taken on the sufferings of all other living beings, that they are free from suffering and that we have completely destroyed our own self-cherishing. We then consider this belief in the light of the fact that all living beings are our mothers.

I began with breathing meditation and after a while my mind felt very absorbed and focused.

I then began the Lamrim meditation on Taking. I decided that I wanted to really get my teeth into this meditation, so I worked with some very strong imagery today. I imagined walking onto a railway station concourse, which was filled with people. They were all young women carrying babies. The concourse was enormous – in fact it was large enough to hold all living beings, who were in the aspect of these women.

I imagined that these women all had the same suffering – they were dying and they would not see their little baby grow up. I imagined that all the sufferings of all these living beings were represented by this one tragic suffering. I thought of how each of them would look at their baby and tell them how they wished they could stay with them and be with them as they grew. How they wished that they would be able to care for them and love them, and how sorry they were that they would have to leave them. I thought about how this must feel, and I felt it too. A heartbreaking sadness.

I then made the firm decision that through the power of my compassionate wish, I would take on their sufferings. Their sufferings only cause them pain, but they can give me great benefit. I caused all their heartache to rise out of them in the aspect of black smoke and come towards me, gathering at my heart. As the smoke left their bodies, the women understood that they were no longer dying, and that their wish had come true. They were free from their suffering.

The smoke gathered at my heart and dissolved into my self-cherishing, destroying it completely. I felt free. Completely free. I realised that whenever I do anything, I make my decisions based on some consideration of the implications the action has for me. Is it good for me or is it bad for me? But without self-cherishing, I am free to do whatever is most beneficial for others. I am not fettered by self-cherishing. I felt completely free from self cherishing – it was wonderful.

After a while I decided to see what this contemplation and meditation meant in light of the fact that all living beings are my mother. As I thought this, I understood that I was all the babies being held by these mothers – that all living beings are my suffering mothers. I went through the contemplation again with this understanding, and once again I felt very free at the end. I focused on this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings learn to take the sufferings of others, and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will try to alleviate the sufferings of others with a calm, patient mind. I will try to abandon my self-cherishing and fearlessly take on the sufferings of others.

Modern Buddhism

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