"As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings."
I wanted to begin the project with this quote because it resonates so deeply with me, and since I am using my son’s birthday as the jumping-off point to this project, it seems the appropriate choice.
He has always shown great compassion for others since he was very small. I raised him in a household that values life of all kinds. I always taught him that an ant’s life is no less significant than my own, and that we must never be cruel to anything we perceive as "smaller" or "beneath" us, for all life is precious and created equal. Whether or not he continues to grow into this person is up to him, all we can do as parents is to offer our example and encouragement.
And this is how we live still, to this day. I feed the slugs bits of banana, I rescue worms from the dredging rains, and we always brake for squirrels and birds. While this is nonsense to many, I cannot fathom not living this way. The way to a kinder world is to begin with your own heart.
But, like I said, as I have grown, I have come to realize that we do things that we cannot help. Either we are unconscious of our actions because they are so ingrained in us that we don't know any better, or we just don't know where to begin the change. I am at least grateful I was given a compassionate heart that I could grow to be more accepting and loving toward my fellow human being, accepting them and loving them for who and what they are. Not always easy, and I am by far not always able to pull it off, but at least it's a start. I admit my shortcomings, and work on it the best I can, every day. It is not weak to admit weakness. It is strength.
At first glance, this quote seems to be about a mothers love for her child, strong and true, and, it is. But the deeper meaning is the beauty of the quote. A mother’s deep love for her child is the example used to describe how we should all extend our love for one another, as well as "all beings". I believe the Buddha is not just speaking about other 'human' beings, though we should have an open mind and open heart towards all mankind, whatever their differences from us may be. I would like to say that tolerance is a virtue that we, as human beings, should be extending towards one another, but I don't like to use the term "tolerance", as, to me, it implies that I am somehow above that which I must tolerate. I much rather like the term "compassion", as we should all extend compassion for each other’s thoughts, beliefs and feelings. We should hope to be as dominoes triggering a chain reaction from our acts of love and understanding "in regard to all beings".
As I said, I don't believe this is reserved for humans, alone, but for any being that retains the light of life within it. We are to treat all beings that share this planet with the respect, compassion, and love that we would "our only child". Through this type of compassion for one another and all things, we can certainly start to become the change we wish to experience in this world.
That's worth a bit of banana to me.
Thank you for spending this time with me today.