Help for Your Spiritual Journey

Literature for SELF-Discovery

Mother’s Unique Opportunity

A Mother’s Day Tribute by Paul Hourihan   (Edited by Anna Hourihan from lecture transcripts)

motherhoodMay is a fitting month to honor our mothers since it is associated with Buddha, the epitome of compassion, service, and selflessness, and therefore a Mother figure to humanity.

Buddha lived for others and reached perfection by losing himself in the service and love of humanity. The Mother also lives for others and gains the priceless treasure of sacrifice of self through her motherhood.

We are grateful for what she does in society but the essence of the matter is the spiritual gain that she earns—if she brings the children up in the right spirit and takes advantage of the rare opportunity shown her.

It is true that few women grasp the opportunity, just as few of us grasp the many other opportunities for spiritual development that are constantly being offered to us.

The Mother: Tool of Nature or Vehicle of Spirit?

The mother brings life into the world, rears it, protects it—and this life is a soul that is being reared, a soul that has come for the purpose of divine knowledge. She is the indispensable handmaiden of the Lord in this delicate process in which she nurtures the life to reach the age of reason so it can fend for itself. This pivotal theme in the whole creation is dependent on the mother not only being a body enabling the birth to take place, but the rearing of the child, educating it, giving it health and so forth—a vital and tremendous role and sacred function in its ultimate implications.

Her problem, however, is great—attachment, possessiveness, forgetting her opportunities in the pressure of duties! In this forgetting of her spiritual role, Nature in the form of natural impulses, cravings, demands, etc., takes over and blinds her still more to the rare situation she is in. But at the same time we must remember that it is her very power of sympathy that lies behind her major flaw, which is her attachment.

So the mother is the most paradoxical of all figures. She has the most sacred function in life—she is praised for her love and selflessness and in our imaginations she becomes almost a religious figure, but on closer analysis we find she deserves more of our pity and prayers than anyone else because hers is the most difficult task of all.

Serving the Lord

Only the illumined soul knows that all work is being done for the Lord. The mother doesn’t know this, except at times in an instinctive way. Even so, without that deliberate awareness of the Divine, to which all of us aspire (either consciously or not), she does a great amount of good anyway. What is missing in her role is her awareness that she is serving the Lord and that the work is for the Lord only. That is hard for all of us to realize no matter how vital our work may be in other terms. Unfortunately, that is where the trouble starts, even with the mother. Unless we remember the Lord we are in trouble right away; there’s no escaping from the necessity of remembering and realizing that our life should be lived for the Lord or Supreme Spirit.

In Vedanta there is the Upanishadic vision of the all-present, all-pervading Oneness in life. When we actually feel this Divine presence stirring in us, then it is easier to sense the Divine in those with whom we are related: mother-child, lovers. At those times we should take advantage of this mood of awe that seizes us, and cultivate a sense of the Divine in the relationship.

This mood usually comes as an unsought grace. The problem is to find a way to prolong the experience of that grace and the feeling of awe. Regrettably, we typically cannot do this and we lose the precious mood, with its precious insights. We have to find a way to prevent the loss and maintain the state of insight, of presence. Through meditation and spiritual disciplines we can do this. Most mothers do not do this because most do not know about it. As a result they lose the valuable moments once the special early years are past.

With this knowledge, may the mother raise the children for her soul’s sake. May she see her tasks as divinely ordained. May she accept the mandate given her as not a duty so much as an opportunity to learn from this priceless experience, unrivaled in human affairs. In so doing, one day she may love all other children too, in the same way, and attain the state of Universal Motherhood, Divine Motherhood and through Mother Love gain Divine Love.

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