Recognizing Our Mothers as Examples of Compassion


Traditionally, equanimity is valued in Buddhist teachings. This means that we train in not preferring our own family and friends, and extending the same love to strangers and enemies. However, for beginners, it is honestly difficult for us to begin with this step. Instead, we train gradually by first recalling the kindness of our mothers. We can take time to reflect on the situation our mothers experienced while we were in the womb. We often don’t remember the pain and difficulty that our mothers experienced. And after nine months in the womb, we emerged with only a mouth and a stomach. Our mothers attended to our every need, no matter how we cried, or what messes we made.

Mothers then spend the rest of the child’s life thinking about how to give the best to their children. Many of us have seen this or experienced this but it is good to remember the 24/7 nature of motherhood and to appreciate the kindness of mothers.Our parents, particularly our mothers kept us away from harm, picked us up when we fell, and provided us with nutritious food during our early years. As adults, we can look around us at parents and appreciate the time and care that goes into that role. So as we begin to train in compassion, we look first to our parents—particularly our mothers—and develop deep respect for their kindness.

If we are Buddhists, then we recognize that all sentient beings have been our kind mothers in one lifetime. We begin with our current mothers because we see that directly.

And gradually, as we cultivate compassion for them, we begin to extend that out to all other beings. We think that each and every sentient being has at one time been our kind mother. And with that recollection, then we can extend our compassion and gratitude out to all beings without exception. And that is how we can build a firm base that allows us to practice equanimity.

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