All beings are kind to me!

Oct 21, 2021


On the face of it, “All beings are kind to me” seems to have no basis in reality. 


So what’s it mean? It’s one of the contemplations in a series of techniques for accomplishing bodhichitta, the paradigm shift in the mind that is the aspiration to only benefit others and to never give up becoming a buddha for their sake. When we’ve accomplished bodhichitta, there is no longer the usual self-centered of thought of “I”; there is only the thought of others – hard to imagine, but possible.


How to get our heads around “all beings are kind to me”? First of all, we need to look at what we mean by “kind.” Normally we say a person is kind if they do overtly kind things, or appear to have a kind nature. Or, more close to home and more bluntly, a person is kind if they do what I want, if they fulfil my attachment’s needs. But these are not the meaning here.


“Kind” here, and the meditation to help us realize that all beings are kind to me, is based upon interdependence, on dependent-arising, and it goes like this: there is not a single good thing in my life, from the time we were conceived in our mother’s womb up until now that isn’t the handiwork of other sentient beings. Everything that has facilitated my life is the work of sentient beings. 


It’s logical, but we never think of it this way. But why think this, why meditate on this? So that we can break down the barriers between self and other that attachment and self-cherishing have created. At the moment we literally cannot see past our own noses.


This very body itself, before it even left my mother’s womb – what was it other than a mountain of chickens and fishes and cows? And if my mother was a vegetarian, think of the countless beings who died in the growing and picking of the vegetables she consumed that turned into my body in her womb.


And right now the same: it’s a mountain of all the creatures I’ve eaten. This is fact. Where is “my body”? It’s enough to realize emptiness, not to mention compassion!


I mean, this is truth, it’s scientific, but we never think it! 


Everything we point to that has facilitated my life since the moment I came out of my mother’s womb: the lambs whose wool the blanket I was wrapped in was made from, the nurses who helped my mother, the clothes they wore and all the beings involved in the making of them. The warm water used to wash my body: who’s involved in that? The plumbers who installed the pipes, the electricians who made sure the heating worked and everyone who worked at the electric company: they’re all intricately involved in the dependent arising that ended up as warm water for my dependent arising body.

But for their work, each one of them, there wouldn’t have been warm water. But for the lamb and the people who sheared the wool and the people who made the shears and the electric company who provided the electricity for the shears to work I wouldn’t have had a blanket to protect my body from the elements. . . and so it goes.


This is logic. But we never think of these sentient beings, not once. Why? Because of the hubris of attachment and self-cherishing, the primordial assumptions that we deserve these good things. We take them for granted, utterly.


Look at my glasses. I’m as blind as a bat without them. The number of people involved in the making of my titanium frames: clever people thought about this and invented them; my lenses: I have a very fat prescription and these are very special thin lenses, without which I’d have heavy glass dragging down my nose. You can’t even count the number of people involved. How kind!


And the thing here is, we’re not discussing the character of these people at all. The inventor of my thin lenses might be a pedophile! That’s not the point at all. 


The very fact that this person created these marvelous lenses that make it so easy for to see – amazing! I am so so grateful!


Again, the only time we think a person is kind is when they fulfil my attachment’s needs. I order the chocolate cake and end up with an extra big piece, cream on the top, and a discount. Of course I will smile and be delighted and thank the waitress for being so kind – even if she thinks I’m ridiculous and criticizes the greedy Buddhist nun behind my back! I don’t care. I got what I wanted so I’ll see her through the lenses of my fulfilled needs.


What if the cake was stale? I won’t think she’s kind even though she might have sincerely wanted to make me happy.


There’s one bodhisattva who is famous in Tibet, he was called “The Always Crying One”: every time he saw anything, he thought of all the sentient beings who had made it, and he’d burst into tears – something like that.


Our mothers are like this, aren’t they? My mother had eight babies (one died). She kept everything they gave her, photos of them, the lock of their baby hair, their little baby shoes, their drawings. 


But especially thing things her children gave her, made for her. She treasured them! In other words, she saw our kindness. There was one dumb little drawing I did when I was little, I remember it. As a drawing it was nothing. If you saw it in a shop, you’d ignore it. But my mother: all she saw, with her heart full of love, was her little Bobsy! 


Bodhisattvas are like that. They see the kindness of sentient beings. And then what do they feel? The yearning to repay their kindness. 


This is the point, the conclusion. I must repay the kindness of all sentient beings and never give up becoming a buddha for their sake.


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