Are you wondering what to do spiritually for mother's day (besides taking your mother out to lunch or dinner or whatever)? Here are a few meditative ideas for you to consider:
Now I realize that some of you may have a difficult time understanding how reincarnation could be so. Or better known as rebirth. Maybe this will help: Imagine for one moment that rebirth or the recycling of our stream of consciousness and ability to perceive phenomena through senses in a body is possible and is how it always has been. In other words imagine that we have always been taking rebirth and death since the big bang and in previous cycles of the universe. So that means that we have had enough time to have been each others moms. So if that is the case, shouldn't we be kind to each other because at one time or another we have given birth to each other? So for this mother's day, let us meditate on the fact that every pair of eyes that we meet every day has been our kind mother in past lives. So we should be indebted to each other because somehow we managed to get this far and know how to survive this well, all due to the kindness of all our kind mothers.
Now meditate on this: of all the bodies my consciousness could have occupied, why this one, and why at this time? And why all that time before and after where my consciousness doesn't occupy any more bodies? That (only this life and that is it) doesn't make sense. It makes more sense that my consciousness has and will occupy all kinds of bodies. What was it in the DNA or in the chemistry that gave life to this particular consciousness. Material stuff may be the cause of consciousness, but why this one and not any other? Why am I in my body and not in your body? So there must be something about our body that imprisoned our consciousness. Why? Was it our Karma?
There are many topics for meditation or contemplation. Tibetan Buddhists starting with Indian Atisha (11th century) and scholar Je Tsongkhapa (14th Century) organized a sequence of meditations that would express the essential teachings of the Buddha. These are the 21 meditations and within those, meditating on our Mothers is one of them. But not just our current biological mother. The meditation attempts to guide us into realizing that all sentient beings are our kind mothers.
For more information on what are the 21 meditations, visit kadampa.org
Here is what meditation master and scholar Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has to say about how to meditate on our mothers:
What are the reasons for believing we have shared the intimate motherchild relationship with everyone? "To answer these questions consider the following line of reasoning. The woman we presently recognize as our mother is such by virtue of our having been born into the world from her womb. Yet this is not the first and only time we have taken birth. The continuity of our consciousness stretches back over infinite time and the births we have taken have been countless. As we have been born countless times it follows we have had countless mothers. Thus there is not a single being we meet who, over the incalculable expanse of beginningless time, has failed to be our mother."
"Despite the altered form and appearance of those we encounter and the failings of our extremely limited memory, once we become convinced of the logic of the above line of reasoning there will be nothing to prevent us from viewing each being with the same warm recognition we now effortlessly extend to our present mother."
"Although the argument presented above is internally consistent, it is obvious that it will be completely lacking in persuasiveness if we do not come to understand and at least tentatively accept the existence of past and future lives. As long as we reject this possibility-as long as wt cling to the belief that our birth and death of this lifetime mark the outermost boundaries of our existence - it will be utterly impossible for us to recognize all beings as our mother, except metaphorically. Many other important dharma topics, such as the workings of cause and effect, also depend for their full understanding on a consideration of past and future lives. Therefore, although this topic may present particular difficulties to some people-especially westerners-it is very important that we try to keep an open mind and examine the issue with as few preconceptions as possible."
Excerpts from Geshe Kelsan Gyatso's Meaningful to Behold: View, Meditation and Action in Mahayana Buddhism. An oral commentary to Shantideva's A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life (Bodhicharyavatara). Wisdom, 1980, pp. 20-31. To read more from these pages, click Teachings on Kindness to Mothers There are benefits to oneself for practicing being kind to all our mothers
, but unfortunately, if we don't understand rebirth, we only look at this one life as all there is and act accordingly, only considering the short term effects of everything that we do. as Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche says:"When one has great loving-kindness towards all sentient beings, there are limitless beneficial effects, for such kindness represents an offering to all the Buddhas [Holy perfected omniscient beings.] All other beings are then drawn to us and wish to protect us. This will cause peace and happiness for oneself, one will benefit one's entire environment. One will not suffer harm from weapons and poisons, one's wishes will be fulfilled without effort, and one will be reborn in higher realms."
"Practicing loving-kindness, one is not attached to one's own peace and happiness, but rather has concern only for others. Loving-kindness is the state of mind in which one wishes that all sentient beings may have happiness and the causes of happiness. The object of one's goal is the well-being of all without exception."
To read more, click Practicing Loving Kindness and Compassion
The Dalai Lama of course gives this very same teaching everywhere he goes. If we have been reborn time after time, it is evident that we have needed many mothers to give birth to us.... the first cause bringing about bodhicitta [altruism or Universal Compassion] is the recognition that all beings have been our mother.
The love and kindness shown us by our mother in this life would be difficult to repay. She endured many sleepless nights to care for us when we were helpless infants. She fed us and would have willingly sacrificed everything, including her own life, to spare ours. As we contemplate her example of devoted love, we should consider that each and every being throughout existence has treated us this way. Each dog, cat, fish, fly, and human being has at some point in the beginningless past been our mother and shown us overwhelming love and kindness. Such a thought should bring about our appreciation.
...if all other sentient beings who have been kind to us since beginningless time are suffering, how can we devote ourselves to pursuing merely our own happiness? To seek our own happiness in spite of the suffering others are experiencing is tragically unfortunate. Therefore, it is clear that we must try to free all sentient beings from suffering.
--from An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by the Dalai