They are kinsmen stranded in Samsara’s ocean
Who seem to have fallen into the abyss;
When due to birth, death and rebirth
You don’t recognise them and reject them,
Freeing only yourself: there is no greater shame.
(Letter To A Disciple)
In other words, although we do not recognise each other as such, there is not one sentient being who has not been our mother. And just as we have taken countless rebirths, we have had countless mothers; no being has not been our mother. And each time they were our mother, the kindness they showed us was no different from the kindness shown by our mother in this life. Since they did nothing but lovingly care for us, there is not the slightest difference between our present mother’s kindness and care toward us and that of every sentient being.
However, some might feel, ‘All sentient beings are not my mother. If they were, I would recognise them as my mother; instead I do not!’ But since it is quite possible that many do not recognise even their mother of this life, mere non-recognition is not sufficient reason for someone not to be your mother. There are others who might feel, ‘Mothers of past lives belong to the past. It makes no sense to say they are still one’s kind mothers.’ But the kindness and care that mothers showed you in the past, and the kindness and care your present mother shows you, are not in the least bit different from each other, either in being your mother or in their kindness and care. The kindness is the same if you received some food or wealth from someone last year or this year. The time of the deed, past or future, does not alter the degree of kindness. Thus all sentient beings are nothing but kind mothers to you.
How could we ignore these kind mothers of ours, who have fallen into the middle of the ocean of Samsara, and doing only what pleases us, work only for our own liberation? It would be like children singing and dancing on the shore when one of their dearly beloved close relatives, such as their mother, was about to fall into the ocean’s riptide. The rip is flowing out to the ocean, and she cries and calls out to them in terror, but they are completely oblivious to her. Is there anyone who is more shameful or contemptible? The currents in the oceans are said to be whirlpools, and it is a most horrifying thing when a boat, coracle, and so on, enters the maelstrom, for it is sure to sink. Just like in that example, though we presently do not seem to have any relationship with all sentient beings who have fallen into these ocean currents of Samsara, this is not so. All are our kind mothers, and we must repay their kindness. Giving food to the hungry; drink to the thirsty, wealth to the poor, etc., and satisfying their wants, would repay some of them their kindnesses; but this would really not be of much benefit. The best way to repay their kindness is to cause them to have every happiness and to be without every kind of suffering. There is no better way to repay their kindness. [Note: Guidance to reach Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha’s) Pure Land guarantees the swiftest path to the Ultimate Bliss of Buddhahood.]
Liberation In The Palm Of Your Hand: A Concise Discourse On The Path To Enlightenment
Edited By Trijang Rinpoche
Translated By Michael Richards