10. To liberate all beings
My mothers, each and every sentient being, / Since time without beginning cared for me.
How can I be happy while they’re suf-fering? / I must get to work and set them free.
To cultivate the mind of full awake-ning: / This is the way a bodhisattva trains.
Verse 10 audio above. Audio for verses 8-10 is here.
With verse 10, we expand our two basic motivations for dharma practice — to gain freedom from suffering by refraining from harm to others, and to attain complete liberation because even the apparent happiness and pleasures of samsara don’t last and are suffering in disguise — to include all beings. This is the final and highest level of motivation for practice, the Mahayana or universal motivation, and the one from which the rest of the path unfolds.
Who are all these beings I am resolving to liberate? According to the traditional formula for arousing bodhicitta that we recite at the beginning of each teaching, they are “all sentient beings, whose numbers fill the extent of space.” How big is space? It is said to be infinite. This is a vast scope of intention!
Meditation: Let your attention come to rest, naturally or by following a few rounds of breathing, and then, as you breathe out, let your awareness relax to fill all of limitless, empty space. Rest like that for as long as you wish, and then:
Contemplation / Meditation: Imagine this vast, limitless space completely filled with sentient beings, each of whom has been like a loving mother to you in a previous lifetime. Envelop them all in your heartfelt love, wishing happiness for each and every one. Rest in that feeling of love pervading space for as long as you wish.