Others Are Kind
3 — Reflecting on
Ways others are kind
If your own compassion is to become profoundly deep and strong, it
helps to vividly remember the strong relationship you had at the beginning
of this life with your mother.
Several of my Tibetan teachers talked about the kindness of our mothers:
"How my mother held me close to her flesh, rocking me to and fro on
her ten fingers." Little babies and little children, when mothers pull
the blanket up to their shoulders and tuck them in, feel "Mmm, how
nice!" You might remember that feeling of running into the house to
mother for protection. Little kids hug their parents' knees and feel
cared for and safe. We are bringing back that childhood feeling.
If you can remember your own mother's kindnesses, if you can remember
your deep feelings for her and many specific instances of what she
did for you, or if you watch mothers now or have a child of your own,
you will see that a mother has to think about her child night and day,
especially when it is an infant. If she stops thinking about the child
even for an hour, it might die.
Remembering your early relationship with your mother supports the
cultivation of your own compassion. By eventually taking her as the
model of the helpful friend and applying your intimate knowledge of
her closeness to every sentient being, the element of self-centeredness
gradually falls away. We usually feel attachment to certain people
and not to others, but when we apply this strong feeling to all sentient
beings, the attachment fades.
When you recognize how kind someone has been to you,
you are using an ordinary worldly attitude to keep you
from responses of hatred.
For instance, if someone gave
me a grant with a blank check to form a team of translators
of Tibetan, I would be more than extremely pleased. If
that person later came by and gave me a hard time, I
would feel a measure of restraint because of the person's
previous kindness. I would make an effort to work things
out with the person.
When you reflect on how kind every
person has been, there is that restraint to the point
where, believe it or not, trained Buddhists will look
at a fly or an ant walking across the table and think,
"That is someone who bore me in her womb in a former
lifetime, who took care of me."