A being who has not been your mother
[father, brother, sister, son, daughter]
at one time in the past [due to many rebirths]
is not easy to find.
– The Buddha (Mata Sutta)
Loving-kindness, as the first of the Four Immeasurable States Of Mind, is the wish for all sentient beings to be well and happy, even when some are not suffering much. The other three states of mind, of compassion, rejoice and equanimity are thus built upon it. For example, it is impossible to have compassion for others, which is the action of removing suffering, without also wishing them to be well and happy. Likewise for rejoice, which is the ability to be happy that others are doing well, and equanimity, which is the perception of all to be equally deserving of the above three qualities. In the Metta Sutta (The Discourse On Loving-Kindness; 慈经), using a mother and child analogy, Sakyamuni Buddha urged us to cultivate loving-kindness with an immeasurable scope in mind – ‘As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate an immeasurable heart with regard to all beings. With good will for the entire cosmos, cultivate a immeasurable heart – above, below and all around, unobstructed, without enmity or hatred.’ (如母可冒命护子，其为独子，汝即便如此应修无量心，于一切众生。以善意为全宇宙，修持无量心 – 为上、下、 围绕，无碍、无敌意、无恨意。) When I first saw these verses, it felt like a tall order, to expect us all to develop such great love.
Some years later, I encountered the following lines from ‘The Great Buddha Crown’s Surangama Sutra’s Section On Mahasthamaprapta [Great Strength] Bodhisattva’s Perfect Penetration With Mindfulness Of Buddha’ (大佛顶首楞严经大势至菩萨念佛圆通章) – ‘The ten directions’ Tathagatas are sympathetically mindful of sentient beings, like a mother recollecting her child. If the child runs away, although there is recollection, what is the use? If the child recollects the mother, like when the mother recollects the child, the mother and child, in life after life, will not be far away from each other. If sentient beings’ minds recollect the Buddha [Amitabha Buddha; Amituofo], and are mindful of the Buddha, now or in the future, they will definitely see the Buddha. With the Buddha not far away, without use of expedient means, they will, by themselves, attain awakening of their minds.’ (十方如来，怜念众生，如母忆子。 若子逃逝，虽忆何为？ 子若忆母，如母忆时，母子历生，不相违远。 若众生心，忆佛念佛，现前当来，必定见佛，去佛不远，不假方便，自得心开。) Relating these sutra’s words, which are absolutely the most moving I have ever read, with the sutta’s verses had a profound mind-blowing effect on me…
Upon deeper reflection, here are four reasons why –  While Sakyamuni Buddha hopes that we each cultivate immeasurable loving-kindness for all beings in every direction, the truth is, he himself, similar to all other Buddhas in every direction (such as Amituofo), already have immeasurable loving-kindness for all of us, having also attained perfect compassion, rejoice, equanimity (and wisdom, among all other virtues) through many self-sacrificing lives as Bodhisattvas.  While they urge us to see each and every being impartially, as an only child, they already care for each and every one of us equanimously like their only child, with no loss of true love at all.  Having attained such loving-kindness personally, they know it can and should be done, as perfecting our loving-kindness (along with the other qualities) is part of the path to Buddhahood.  And due to having perfected their Four Immeasurable States Of Mind, the Buddhas live up to them with constant loving mindfulness of us, and urge us to be mindful of at least one of them well (e.g. Amituofo, through whom all their blessings can be shared), so as to expedite our progress to Buddhahood via his Pure Land. How very touching! May we all mindfully connect our Buddha-nature to the heart of all Buddhas!
All Buddhas, who are always mindful of all beings
from thought to thought,
urge and invite all beings to be mindful of Amituofo
from thought to thought.
Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra (14th Run)
The Mindfulness Factor: How To Be Mindful Of Buddha Purely (2nd Run)
A Great Bodhisattva’s Buddha Mindfulness Practice
Why Be Particularly Mindful Of One Buddha?
Why Particularly Seek One Pure Land?