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The purpose of this meditation is to recognise the true identity of all living beings – they are our mothers, and then to meditate on this recognition in the light of our refuge practice.

As I cannot find a beginning to my mind, it means my mind must have existed before this physical body arose. I have had many previous lives and in each of those lives I have had a kind mother. Just as I have taken rebirth, so have my mothers, and they appear as all the living beings around me now.

I felt like I was surrounded by my mothers, and stayed with this recognition for a while.

I then thought about what my refuge practice means for this thought. If all living beings have been my mother, then Buddha and all the Sangha have also been my own kind mother in the past. Just as they cared for me then in a worldly manner, so now they are caring for me in a supramundane manner, showing me the way to liberation and enlightenment. I felt closer to them, and also closer to all living beings. I stayed with this feeling of closeness and recognition for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the true nature of others, and attain liberation and enlightenment quickly.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will strive to recognise everyone I meet as being my mother, and treat them appropriately and accordingly.

Meditation 4/8

The purpose of this meditation is to strengthen our conviction that all living beings are our mother, and then reflect on what this means in the light of our precious human life.

I began by remembering that all the living beings around me have been my kind mother in our past lives. Just because they cared for me many lifetimes ago does not change the fact that they were my mother. I thought deeply about this and it seemed to me that I was standing, surrounded by my mothers. All living beings were essentially my mother. It is only because our external appearances have changed that we do not recognise each other.

I felt a deep warmth to all living beings with the additional recognition that they are my mothers, and I stayed with that feeling for a while.

Then I considered what this means in the light of my precious human life. In this life I have had an extremely kind mother, who cared for me more than anyone else. My kind mother was one of the most important endowments of my human life, and it was only possible to meet her by my having this precious human life. It seemed that although all living beings were my mother, they became extremely precious and rare, and my care for them became more intense. I remained with this feeling for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise the true nature of other living beings, and thereby become enlightened for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will retain the recognition that all living beings are my mother, and continue to deepen my affectionate love for them all.

The purpose of this meditation is to develop the firm view that all living beings are our mothers.

I began the meditation by remembering that I have had a mother in all my past lives. Where are these mothers now? They are all the living beings I see around me. Each one of them has been my mother.

I remembered what Geshe-la says in his book, Eight Steps to Happiness:

“Even though we may find it difficult to prove for ourself the truth of the view that all living beings are our mother, we would nevertheless be wise to accept it because there are enormous benefits in doing so.

We should understand that ultimately nothing is true except emptiness. Objects exist only in relation to the minds that cognize them. Since an object’s nature and characteristics depend upon the mind that cognizes them, we can change the objects we see by changing the way we see them. We can choose to see ourself, other people and our world in whatever way is most beneficial.”

I contemplated this in meditation, and remembered that one of the best ways to accumulate merit is to perform helpful actions towards our parents. If I believe that all living beings are my mother, then every positive action I perform toward others will have the same effect as if I had performed it for my mother in this life, multiplied by the number of people towards whom the act was directed. I realised what an incredible amount of merit I could generate each day by holding the view that all living beings are my mother.

I made the firm determination to see all living beings as my mother, and perform virtuous actions towards them with this recognition. I remained with this determination for the rest of the meditation.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise their actual relationship with others, and through understanding that all living beings are their mothers, become fully enlightened beings for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will remember that the nature of living beings depends upon how I view them, therefore I will view them as my mother, because this is the most beneficial view to hold.

 

The purpose of this meditation is to help us develop affectionate love for all living beings.

I began the meditation by remembering that I have had countless past lives. I have been reborn continuously in samsara, and despite the fact I cannot remember these lives, they happened. I cannot remember my early years, but they happened. In each of these lives I had a mother who gave birth to me. Since I have had countless rebirths, I must have had countless mothers. Where are they now? They are all the living beings around me today.

I imagined the living beings I know at work, and in my social life, and I imagined that they were my mother in disguise. I remembered that they were actually my mother, despite both our appearances having changed since they were our actual mother. I thought about how they would weep if they could recognise me: all a mother wants to do is to be close to their child and know they are safe.

I focused on this feeling of being close to my mother. I focused on a feeling of closeness to others which I can achieve through simply being in contact or thinking about others.

I concentrated on this feeling of closeness for the rest of the meditation. It felt warm and protected, and full of love.

Dedication

May all living beings recognise their mother in everyone they see or think about, and quickly attain enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Practice in the Meditation Break

I will regard everyone as my mother. As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in The New Meditation Handbook:

“If we regard all living beings as our mothers, we shall find it easy to develop pure love and compassion, our everyday relationships will become pure and stable, and we shall naturally avoid negative actions such as killing and harming living beings. Since it is so beneficial to regard all living beings as our mothers, we should adopt this way of thinking without hesitation.”

I began this meditation by recalling the fact that when this life is over, I will take rebirth in either this realm again, or in another realm.  I have done this repeatedly for a very long time.  I remembered that when Buddha was asked:  “When did time begin?”, he looked with all his omniscient wisdom into the past, and even he could not see its beginning.  So, I recognised that since beginningless time, I have been trapped taking countless rebirths in samsara.

And then I thought that each time I have been born in the human realm, I have had a mother who has given birth to me, just as in this lifetime my current mother gave birth to me.  So where are all these mothers from my past lives?  They died too, and took rebirth.  Since I have had countless births, I have had countless mothers, and these beings are the living beings alive today all around me. Their appearance has changed so I do not recognise them and they do not recognise me, but they are definitely my mother.

They may have been my mother many years and lifetimes ago, but that still does not change the fact that they were my mother.  Simply because a long time has passed does not alter this fact.  If I were separated from my mother at birth, and only found her again 50 years later, she would still be my mother and I would treat her as such.

So following this thought process, I settled on the notion that all the living beings around me are my mother just as the mother of my present life is my mother, and focused on this recognition.  It seemed to me that everywhere I looked I recognised everyone as my mother, and I felt a smoothness and uniformity to my recognition of others.

I remember distinctly the first time I read this meditation.  I was on a train from London to Liverpool, and when I looked up from the book, instead of seeing a carriage full of strangers, I saw a carriage full of my mothers.  It instantly transformed how I felt about all these people.  And although I did not change my behaviour, in my heart I was different, and it felt wonderful.

In the New Meditation Handbook Geshe Kelsang says that this recognition is so beneficial that we should adopt it without hesitation.

And we shouldn’t forget that our mothers from past lives do not only appear as other humans – all the animals and insects we see have also been our mother in the past.  For very useful and effective ways of how to think about this, see Luna Kadampa’s blog, Kadampa Life.

It is raining outside the cottage today, and the weather has been cool and damp – not what everyone was expecting.  I don’t really mind, because I know my happiness is not connected with whether it rains or shines.  I am in a cottage full of living beings who I can practise regarding as my mothers! What more could I want!

Modern Buddhism

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