Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Mother’s Radiance by Shang Rinpoche

Shang Rinpoche Teachings
As a Buddhist, the most important thing should be to practice all good Dharma. To be born as a human being, it is of prime importance to respect your precious life, as “you have attained a rare and precious human birth.” As such, so long as you are human, you must maintain the five precepts and the ten virtuous deeds in order to fulfil the conditions of the human realm. At the same time, in order to elevate yourself and procure rebirth in the other good realms, you must simultaneously practice the four immeasurables and bodhicitta. The four immeasurables are the most fundamental symbol of a Buddhist’s compassion and mind to benefit sentient life. Among the four immeasurables, to understand compassion even more clearly, it is just like the love and devotion of a mother for her one and only child, who is able to give whatever is most precious to her, even her own life and blood, no matter how much suffering it may cause her. She will do anything not to see her only child suffer any grievance or hardship. I once saw a news report about a math genius who once described how his mother raised him to be who he was today. He described how his caring mother struggled to support her exhausted body on the day that he was to leave for the research academy. On limp legs and with trembling hands, she daily pushed that shabby cart loaded with vegetables down the long road to the market in order to earn enough money to pay for his studies. It was this toilsome work which crippled her legs, caused them sprains and blisters, and clusters of bruises and scars.
On the eve before he left home for the academy, his mother dragged her decrepit body to prepare some noodles for him, and after he took the bowl from her hands, he couldn’t help but burst into tears. He knelt upon the ground and crawled over in front of his mother and rubbed her hobbled legs, swollen like stumps. His mother had invested her irretrievable youth in their household. When she married into his family, his grandmother was already bedridden and his grandfather partially paralyzed. The entire burden of this family’s livelihood fell squarely upon the shoulders of his caring mother. The whole family was ill, and so in order to cover the medical costs, his mother had to maintain many jobs just to provide the household with the bare necessities, and all in the face of substantial debts. He said that the cost of his studies throughout his entire life had been covered by his mother and in loans from his neighbors. His pens were all retrieved after being discarded by classmates who no longer wanted them, at which time he would attach them to small sticks, and he managed to make it through in this way. In order to give him a chance to excel in his studies and make it into the best school, she didn’t hesitate to quarrel with his father, deciding to sell their donkey, the only animal they owned which could help them earn some money. When his grandfather, paralyzed by stroke, heard what they had been arguing about, he passed away, unable to bear the shock. In the name of his monthly living expenses, his mother saved up day by day, dollar by dollar, over the course of an entire month, herself subsisting on some meager pickled vegetable soup, not even allowing herself to dribble a little oil on top. From time to time, she even had to borrow an extra NT$20-30 in order to scrape together enough to cover his living costs. The genius, with such a praiseworthy mother at the center of this story, won the gold medal at the international mathematics olympics and told this story in order to thank his mother for the way she raised him.
All of the mothers in this world are the same. Take the lions and tigers of the animal realm for example. We all know that one is the lord of the animal kingdom, while the other is a fierce and savage predator, but who would have thought that at times, they surpass all other parents in this world in the way that they behave towards their children. For the sake of their soon-to-be-born offspring, they consent to drag their swollen, pregnant bodies up over mountains and down through valleys in order to find a safe place to give birth. And especially after their offspring are born, for fear of their being harmed by other animals, they will move on to find a new safe haven nearly every single day. Many people have had the experience when young of raising chickens at home. If you observe very carefully, you can often behold moments when the hens lovingly dote on their chicks. We have all seen the loving affection that the pandas in the zoo show for their young. No matter where they go, mother panda carry their cubs in their mouths when walking around. Until the time comes that the cubs can walk on their own and follow her around, the cubs are never let out of their mother’s sight. What we see reflected in the behavior of these animals is that, no matter where in the six realms it may be, so long as a mother is there, the radiance of love will appear.

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