A Mother's Kindness
If we have been reborn time after time, it is evident that we have needed many mothers to give birth to us.... the first cause bringing about bodhicitta is the recognition that all beings have been our mother.
The love and kindness shown us by our mother in this life would be difficult to repay. She endured many sleepless nights to care for us when we were helpless infants. She fed us and would have willingly sacrificed everything, including her own life, to spare ours. As we contemplate her example of devoted love, we should consider that each and every being throughout existence has treated us this way. Each dog, cat, fish, fly, and human being has at some point in the beginningless past been our mother and shown us overwhelming love and kindness. Such a thought should bring about our appreciation.
...if all other sentient beings who have been kind to us since beginningless time are suffering, how can we devote ourselves to pursuing merely our own happiness? To seek our own happiness in spite of the suffering others are experiencing is tragically unfortunate. Therefore, it is clear that we must try to free all sentient beings from suffering.
--from An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by the Dalai
Lama, edited by Nicholas Vreeland