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27 February 2009 @ 10:49 am
Cultivating compassion  
I may have shared this quote before, but I was reminded of it in talking to an old friend. Her mom has become old and somewhat cantankerous, much to the dismay of her siblings who resent helping to care for her. Hence this quote:

The Kindness of Our Many Mothers

by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Before practicing loving-kindness to all sentient beings, we must first reflect on the kindness offered to us by our mothers over many years. When we were born, we were like a small insect, unable to do anything. Thereafter, our mother gave us food and drink, sacrificed to give us clothes and shelter, and otherwise tried to please us. Even when she lacked resources she tried to give us what we needed. All that she used for her child she acquired through hardship. Our mother also protected us from fire, water, falls and all other dangers. She worried about our health and well-being. We knew nothing when we were born, but our mother taught us how to talk, rejoiced over even our first faltering words and steps, and oversaw our education, helping to make us the best among all others. If a friend helps us a little, or offers us a cup of tea, we feel much gratitude. Think, then, how much more gratitude one should feel for one's mother who has done so much for us. Then we must meditate on the fact that we have been reborn in innumerable lifetimes. So all sentient beings have been our mothers at one time or another. Therefore, we must realize that all beings have been kind to us, and we must repay this by practicing loving-kindness and wishing that all may have happiness and the cause of happiness.

We extend the kindness we feel for our mother to our other relatives, then to our friends, then to our countrymen and finally to all beings universally, even to those whom we regard as enemies. Lord Jigten Sumgon said: If you cannot think kindly of your mother, think of a dear friend and extend outward from there.

Compassion is wishing that all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. If your mother or a close friend is experiencing a crisis, you are responsible for helping. Even if your mother is crazy, you must try to help, so in the same way you must help all sentient beings deluded by the three poisons, clarifying their view if possible.
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3treekisser: Asma 'ul Husna3treekisser on February 28th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
I agree. BUT.

Focusing on the mother thing, I don't think it's very helpful to simply emphasise "how much more gratitude one should feel for one's mother who has done so much for us." Sometimes there are feelings of resentment and these need to be acknowledged rather than repressed.

I think it's only when you give yourself the freedom to feel anything about your mother/father/etc. that you can proceed to feel genuine love.
Tapatitapati on March 3rd, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
That's very true. I do think people ought to tackle that at some point before their mom--or dad--are very old and disabled, especially if they feel a need to have a conversation about it. :)