Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day (The Mother Sutra)

Dhr. Seven, Crystal Quintero, Amber Larson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly;;
The Mother Goddess appearing as Kwan Yin, Buddhist Goddess of Compassion (Avalokita)
The Buddha had two loving mothers, sisters.
The Buddha (Prince Siddhartha Gautama) loved his mothers, Queen Maya and her sister Queen Maha Pajapati Gautami.

It is safe to say that mothers are very important in Buddhism, arguably slightly more important than fathers. It seems like the world feels that nowadays, too. Fathers, friends, spouses may come and go, but moms are for keeps, and moms usually (not always) stick around.

The Buddha's biological mother Maya
There's the saying, "a face only a mother could love." That's the kind of face I had. Many others surely feel they were born to disadvantage, or at least not to as much as advantage as others had. Look to karma for that rather than mom or dad.
  • Biographies of the Buddha all tell us that the princes mother’s name was Queen Maya and that she died seven days after her son was born. But we know little more. In the usual accounts Maya appears just long enough to give birth to the Buddha, unnaturally from her right side, after which she vanishes from the storyline altogether. We are not privy to the lamentation or grief we would expect at the loss of the Shakya clan’s queen, the king his wife, or the infant prince his mother.
Siddhartha, son of Queens Maya and Pajapati
So important are mother and father, that the historical Buddha -- a karmavadia or "teacher of the efficacy and crucial importance of karma" -- repeatedly pointed out that the actions we take up with regard to mother and father are of far more weight than actions towards others. How could it be?

I love my mom/baby more than life itself.
All people are not equal (karma-wise), and it is usually the case that no one has done more for us than our parents who brought us into the world, introduced us to the world, provided for us, and taught us how to survive in this world.

In the lengthy "Advice to Laypeople Discourse" (Sigalovada Sutra), the Buddha points out children's duties to parents and parents' duties to children.

Fathers support mothers' rights
It is a two-way street of mutual social obligations. But even if our parents had done nothing for us lately, they would still be massively important and incredibly significant karmically.
What we do to them or for them redounds, and it will lead to our happiness and success or misery and misfortune for a long, long time. Anybody with an idea to call a mom is onto a good start...even if mom is difficult.

Who's a "mother"?
Be like world-beloved Saint Mother Teresa.
All people were once mothers. (But I'm a boy!) Yes, all boys were mothers in the past, and most will be mothers again. Rebirth is like that. (I don't believe it!) Pubbenivāsānussati means "remembrance of former rebirths," and it is one of the "higher powers" (abhiññā) that can be developed in this life so that there is no doubt that rebirth is true. It is a component of the Threefold Knowledge (tevijja) the Buddha spoke of.

The Mother Sutra
Mata Sutta (SN 15.14-19) trans. by Ven. Thanissaro edited by Wisdom Quarterly
Death rules samsara, the Round of Rebirths.
One time [the Buddha] was staying in Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: "From an inconceivable beginning comes rebirth. A beginning point is not to be found of beings -- hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving -- are born and begin wandering on.

"A being who has not already been your mother at one time or another in the past is not easy to find... A being who has not been your father... your brother... your sister... your son... your daughter at one time or another in the past is not easy to find.
Rebirth will not come to an end by itself.
"Now, why is that? From an inconceivable beginning comes rebirth. A beginning point is not to be found of beings -- hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving -- are born and begin wandering on.

"Long have you thus experienced disappointment, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries [with your past bodies] -- enough to become disenchanted with all conditioned (fabricated) things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be liberated."

Five Tricycle Stories to Celebrate Mother's Day

Mothers/goddesses have 1,000 helping hands
[Samsara (the continued wandering on life after life) is so incredibly long that the Buddha pointed out that it is hard to ever run into anybody with whom you have not already shared all relationships, such as that person having been your mother as well as your child. So some state this as:]

"All beings have been your mother in a former life,” says one Buddhist teaching that encourages altruism toward others. This Mother’s Day, we practice learning to see all beings as our mother -- or whoever cared for us when we were young -- in order to shift toward a kinder way of being. Here are Five Tricycle Stories to Celebrate Mother's Day." (The stone carving is a detail of the Buddha's birth). More
2017 Mid-Atlantic Region Buddha Day, Mother's Day, Tzuchi Day

You and your family are cordially invited to our annual celebration of Buddha Day, Mother's Day, and Tzu Chi Day, on Sunday, May 14, 2017. Admission opens...

    No comments: