In yoga there is a belief that we are all aspects of one energy form. In Buddhism this oneness is sometimes depicted by Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Avalokitesvara made a vow to stay on earth and help relieve all beings from suffering and if he was to ever become disheartened he would split into a thousand pieces. One day after deep meditation, he looked at the world and realized that he affected only a small portion of the population. In a dispirited state he shattered.When all his pieces were unified again Avalokitesvara had a thousand arms to help the world.
Every arm is said to represent each of us; we are a single arm emanating from the same source. My heart opened when my son was born. Or to quote Dr. Seuss, my heart “grew three sizes that day.” Prior to my son’s birth, I understood that we are all One from an intellectual level. After he was born I would hold him, a helpless human, hyper-aware of the world around me. I tuned into my deepest fears, my greatest joys, and scariest scenarios. Holding and caring for this infant, I suddenly felt a connection to all the mothers in the world: the cow nuzzling it’s calf on the pasture, the orangutans nursing their young, the lion watching her cubs play, the mothers in Africa, India, Mexico, and the United States who have to put their child to bed hungry, the mothers in war-torn countries, and the mothers who wrap their babies in expensive cloth. As a mother I suddenly felt for the world. The thought of any mother – four-legged, winged, two-legged, or scales having to suffer or fear for the well-being of their offspring tore apart my heart.
I understood on an intrinsic level how much love each mother holds for their child and I suddenly felt on a cellular level the suffering of the world. And like Avalokitesvara, I split into a thousand pieces. I realize to help alleviate suffering for mothers means to help alleviate suffering in the world. All of us, male or female, is capable of extending compassion to the world around us. We each must remember we are an arm of the bodhisattva of compassion and our job is “lend a hand” and extend our love to the world.
To care for the earth is to relieve suffering, to care for animals is to relieve suffering, to monitor your water usage is to aid suffering. Each of us must recognize how we spend our money matter; how we invest our time matters; how we love, shun, berate, judge, or accept another, matters. What you do matters. Who you are matters. You matter in this world. You are an arm of Avalokitesvara reaching a helping hand to the world. Because of you this world is a better place.