One of the profound practices of the Buddhist tradition is to view all beings as if they were our parents in a past lifetime. We vow to repay their kindness. I am often asked how this can be beneficial for a person who is from a broken home or who had a very contentious relationship with their parents.
This is easily resolved through practicing gratitude. After all, our parents changed our diapers. They clothed and fed us. Our unresolved emotional issues pale in comparison to the help we received to simply live. We often forget that. A parent is always doing the best they can according to their capacity to love. If they could not be emotionally supportive, they still probably took care of our survival needs.
If we view everyone with eyes of gratitude for their help is sustaining our life on a very rudimentary level, we can set aside emotional projection. We experience ourselves being offered food when we were hungry, clothes to keep warm, and shelter from a storm. We vow to repay all beings by offering the same, if we are able. If not, we at least offer a smile and good wishes.
“Accomplishing the benefit and happiness of all sentient parent beings” is really that simple. We are overwhelmed by compassion for everyone. We aspire to repay their kindness in whatever way we are capable—just as our parents did for us.
So, thanks, mom and dad (or whoever played that role). May we be able to offer such kindness to everyone we meet.