This teaching is also found in Buddhism: What we do each moment plants the seeds of our future. It’s called Karma.
In light of this I ask myself how much kindness am I sharing this moment? For I desire kindness in my future. And I don’t need to know in what form this will show up.
Recently I read that creating a world in which it is easier for people to be kind to each other is a worthwhile intention. This resonates with me—and it inspires me to be more kind in the present moment.
Kindness has a dimension of generosity in it. How good it feels to give, for it enlarges the giver. We expand rather than contract.
How much kindness are we putting out into the world? Perhaps we could touch it with kindness right now, this moment.
And—even more important—how kind is the voice in our head? Is it loving? Is it encouraging? Or is it kicking someone when they are already down? Perhaps us!
Being kind to those critical voices in our head is a huge step in our spiritual growth. Often we just side with them. We feel they are too loud and speak with too much authority to not heed. Or we simply ignore them. But that doesn’t mean these voices are not affecting us, and our future.
Actually criticism stems from feelings of inadequacy. We criticize and blame when we are afraid. Therefor it is compassionate to be kind to any critical voice. This doesn’t mean we agree or side with them. Simply paying attention is a huge act of kindness. We can let them know we are onto them. We understand they criticize because they want to get the attention off of themselves. Blaming someone else diverts energy.
And we recognize these critical voices also need kindness. Not submissiveness. Just hearing them and knowing they come from fear.
But kindness comes from love. Love trumps fear. The light dispels the darkness. We may be surprised to find how those harsh voices within are unaccustomed to kindness—and how much they want it!
It’s so easy to criticize—ourselves and others. Criticism is an old pattern. Our ancestors thought that we would act better if we were criticized. I seriously doubt that. In my experience I always do worse when criticized or rebuked. I get smaller and my options close down.
But when I feel someone’s helping hand, I am encouraged. I feel lighter, happier and can think more clearly and there are more possibilities.
Many years ago I needed to do physical therapy after I had broken my femur and the muscles in my thigh had been cut to insert a piece of steel. It was extremely painful to put any pressure on my leg.
The first physical therapist that visited me was a young, muscled youth that kept insisting I could easily do the exercises. His voice was impatient and came across as: ”What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you able to do this?” I felt his criticism. The therapy session was anything but a success.
The next day a different physical therapist worked with me. She was older, more experienced, and much more compassionate. With her gentle, patient and encouraging help I was able to walk again in less time than was expected.
This demonstrates to me how criticism impedes progress. Perhaps this is true for you also. Think back to instances when you were encouraged. And then to situations where you were criticized. Which experiences helped you to progress more rapidly?
It is my experience that gentle, steady encouragement inspires. It is kind.
And just imagine what kindness does on the highways of our world. I live in Portland, OR where it is a fact that drivers are usually very polite. Speaking as a native Californian I certainly notice how much more pleasant it is to drive alongside motorists who hold a kind space for you, and you for them.
Life doesn’t have to be a rat race. Science is proving that competition is not good for the soul. It just makes the ego feel good momentarily when you or your team wins. But it is short lived.
If we desire a future filled with kindness we must plant seeds of kindness. Be merciful. Allow compassion to fill our hearts and mind.
The Dalai Lama has said that kindness is his religion.
I also choose kindness as my religion. How about you?
May you live in ease and kindness,