“I may not know my original face but I know how to smile.
I may not know the recipe for the diameter
Of a circle but I know how to cut a slice
for a friend. I may not be Mary or Buddha
But I can be kind. I may not be a diamond
Cutter but I still long for rays of light
that reach the heart.
I may not be standing on the hill of skulls
But I know love when I see it.”—Not Knowing, by Stephen Levine
What is real kindness? In our day and age, these words really translate as paying attention to the moment in a gentle, friendly, loving way. When we practice meditation and we take the time to bring a kind attention to the body, feeling tones (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral), the emotions, and our thoughts — that is an act of kindness.
The alternative is living in oblivion, being spaced out, neglecting or ignoring ourselves, others, and all the animate and inanimate phenomenon that inhabit our planet and life. This can leave us quite lonely, separate, in isolation, and disconnected. From this, a great sadness and unhappiness can overtake our psyche and being.
So we pay attention on purpose to stay engaged experiencing the unfoldment of each moment. This is where life is happening!
Real kindness is inclusive and embraces all parts of life. It does not choose to pay attention to what we like or is pleasant and it does not deny what is difficult. It engages all facets of living and, out of this, is able to antidote negative mind states. To aversion or ill will, it brings caring and softens our dislikes; to greed, it shows us what is fully present so we see that what we need is right here; to sleepiness, it brings energy so we feel safe being in the here and now; to restlessness and worry, it brings patience, acceptance, and generosity; to doubt, it shows us where we really are and that we can make wholesome intentions and choices.
We cultivate our values, contact our intentions, feel our motivations, and plant seeds for the fruition of actions to manifest for the benefit of all beings. Real kindness is free of an ulterior motive; it’s not dependent on what we get back in return. And it does not change when another’s behavior changes. It remains constant, does not play favoritism. It is a cultivation of a deep and profound caring and consideration for all. We see the good in things and we contemplate good qualities.
Please join me in my classes and daylong practices as we birth and practice, in an ongoing manner, these teaching of real kindness. They are part of all the Buddhist teachings.
Take good care, enjoy the continuing beauty of spring, and help others when you can.