#18: Believe it or not, all living beings are our mothers

13 May 2010 - 3:04pm Comments Off

“Believe it or not, all living beings are our mothers”

Many will find the above assertion a tough nut to swallow. Before we reject it, please consider what the Enlightened One said. ‘It is impossible that all living beings have not been our mothers before.’

What is the main obstacle preventing us from sharing Buddha’s view? Not having a belief in past and future lives.

To crack this ignorance, we only need one line of reasoning – that things do not have to have a ‘WHEN’ or a beginning with respect to time and space, and one’s mental continuum.

A newborn baby’s mind came from the mind of the baby in the womb. The womb baby’s mind came when consciousness entered the primal foetus at time of conception (meeting of the mother’s egg and father’s sperm).

Where was this consciousness before conception took place? From a previous consciousness of a being in the past, and the being before that and so forth, all the way back without a beginning. This is consistent with the law of cause and effect. Wherever there is a cause, there will be an effect. The effect, in turn, becomes the cause. Hence, if we regress our reasoning this way, we will come to the realisation that there cannot be a first cause.

Yet if we are to observe carefully, almost everything in nature is cyclical – the seasons, the way energy conserves and changes into different forms, sunrise, sunset.

In practical terms, if we apply it to, say, our universe, we cannot say the universe starts with the Big Bang. It may be the starting point if we freeze that moment in time and space. However, there has to be an unending chain of events preceding the Big Bang which serve as its causes. Buddha’s omniscience sees the universe as an unending continuity of Big Bangs and Big Shrinks, with Big Calms in between.

At the present moment, we are conditioned to think that there must be a furthest star; a smallest particle, a start and end to everything. Yet if we are to observe carefully, almost everything in nature is cyclical – the seasons, the way energy conserves and changes into different forms, sunrise, sunset. This is one way to understand that things need not have a beginning and an end, but occur in natural cycles. We put limits on them for convenience and to simplify things; we are not very good at counting big numbers for long. We know what happens when we count sheep to sleep! It is perhaps why we are not familiar with the mathematics of infinity.

Since we have countless past lives, we must have countless mothers. Where are all these mothers now? Reborn as all the living beings alive today.

However, when it comes to our existence it is very important we do not put limits on it the way we do with other things. It has a direct influence on our happiness and suffering.

A big downside to imposing limits on our existence is that when there is a starting point, there will be an ending point. If we believe life starts at birth, then it will have to end at death. There will be no continuity of our existence beyond, say, 100 years of normal lifespan. We will have no past and no future lives to talk about.

Here is a simple reasoning to help us gain conviction of the continuum of past and future lives. Look at your photos of when you were just a kid. Would you say you had a past, even though you are now not like what you were before, both physically and psychologically? If we believe, we will wake up tomorrow, we will have to accept we have a future life.

Unlike our physical body which is subject to decay, our mind is formless. At death, it is our body that dies. Our gross mind dissolves into our subtle mind or consciousness. Powered by desire, this mind continues on its journey like a time traveller. It takes on new bodies and forms with each rebirth according to our karmic inheritance.

Since we have countless past lives, we must have countless mothers. Where are all these mothers now? Reborn as all the living beings alive today.

Enlightened masters advised that this is one meditation which is crucial for us to develop conviction. Realise it and the spiritual dividends are enormously beneficial.

NEXT: Remembering our Mother’s Kindness

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