The kindness of undergoing hardships

At first we did not come here clothed, finely adorned, with money in our pocket and with provision to travel. When we came into this unknown place, where we knew no one at all, we had nothing whatsoever - our only wealth was our howling mouth and empty stomach. Our mother gave us food so that we would not go hungry, drink to keep us from thirst, clothes to fend off the cold and wealth to keep us from poverty. It was not as though she just gave us things no longer of use to herself: she herself went without food, without drink and without new clothes.

Furthermore, not only did she sacrifice her happiness as far as this existence is concerned, she also deprived herself of using her assets (as offerings) to provide for her own prosperity in future lives. In brief, without regard to her own happiness, in both this life and the next, she devoted herself to rearing and caring for her child.

Nor was it the case that she obtained what was needed easily and pleasurably; to provide for her child she was obliged to sin, to suffer and to toil. She sinned by having to resort to fishing, killing animals and so on in order to care for us. She suffered because what she gave her child was the fruit of trading, labouring in the fields and so forth, wearing the late evening or early morning frost for her boots, the stars as a hat, riding the horse of her calves, beaten by the whip of the long grass, her legs exposed to the bites of dogs and her face exposed to the looks of men.

She also treated this stranger who has become her child with more love than her own father, mother or lama, even though she knew not who this being was or what it would become. She looked at her child with loving eyes, gave her gentle warmth, cradled him in her arms and talked with sweet words saying, “My joy, ah my sunshine, my treasure, coochi coochi, aren’t you mummy’s joy” and so forth.

Jé Gampopa – Gems of Dharma, Jewels of Freedom