With Mother’s Day upon us, I want to take a moment to honour what being a mother means. But no matter the mother we’ve known, according to my Buddhist training we all owe them a great debt for bringing us into the world, for this life is a precious gift. Mine happens to be incredibly kind, and it’s my good fortune to be celebrating her today.
In the ancient language of Pali (the language the Buddha’s teachings were first recorded in), it’s called Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings; Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will.
— From the Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness (Sn 1.8), translation by The Amaravati Sangha, To develop a heart that loves all beings immeasurably and without discrimination might sound impossible.
But according to the Buddha, it’s ultimately achievable for any of us. And it is both the potential and preciousness of the lives of the others, too.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, regardless of your sexuality, the colour of your skin, your nationality, ethnicity or political leanings, whether you’re a CEO or a janitor, whether you’re a biological parent or not, you can start cultivating the heart that loves all beings the way a mother loves her child. Coming to the realisation that this is the potential of my own life has been quite a journey, and was the inspiration for .
Given time, we have the potential to develop wisdom.
And we have the innate capacity to both give and receive love.
According my Buddhist training, we also have the capacity to cultivate the qualities of spiritual realisation, or enlightenment.
One such quality is loving-kindness that knows no bounds.
Of course, I can’t give you a road map for developing this level of loving-kindness within the context of your own life.
In the tradition I follow we have great teachers for that, and I’m still a work in progress myself.
But we can all start by working on our mindfulness, learning to be more present in order to see the world around us with clearer eyes, untainted by our relentless judgements and emotional projections.