In response to yesterday’s post, Be Kind, a friend wrote in an email:
Kindness is the main dharma that I try to live by. I have also been blessed to receive kindness from many living beings in my life, and it truly feels like grace is showering upon us when we experience it, either from us or toward us. It definitely is something that flows through us if we allow it to.
There’s a tremendous amount of truth in that short remark.
It’s true that when we perform or receive acts of kindness, grace flows. It’s like the physical fact that when we move a coil of wire near a magnet, electricty flows. These things are simple and automatic and easy. We don’t need special clothes or initiation from a guru or satsang recordings. All we need to do is move a coil of wire past a magnet and automatically, every time, electricity flows. Similarly, all we need to do is act with kindness and automatically, every time, grace manifests.
This grace makes the heart glow. The field of love in which we bask intensifies.
This is true for everybody. But it occurs to me that being kind is especially valuable for people who are starting on the spiritual path. I’ll try to explain why.
Many seekers never get anywhere spiritually. They never find the place where the spiritual path begins. It begins when you notice something beyond the body and thought process and learn to pay attention to it. Many seekers never get to this point. They remain stuck in the thought process.
Such people may think a lot about spiritual matters. They may even think, “Now my mind is quiet” and imagine that they are meditating. But thoughts are only thoughts regardless of what you think about, and if your attention is always on thoughts, you haven’t budged an inch from the ordinary state.
One of the reasons why this happens is because seekers try to find the beginning of the path by meditating, or more exactly, by trying to meditate. Our first attempts at meditation almost always focus on the body or on thoughts. In order to achieve real meditation, our attention has to take a quantum leap away from the body and thoughts and focus on something else. There is no special reason why this quantum leap has to take place. For many people it never does.
The quantum leap can happen only if we notice something beyond the body and thoughts. This requires us to look away from thoughts. But some people focus so earnestly on their thoughts they never do this. They are like people who keep staring at the TV in hopes of seeing something that is actually in the room with them.
No matter how much they try to look at something that isn’t on the TV screen, they keep looking at pictures on the TV screen.
But suppose something that’s not on the TV screen lit up with flashing lights and called to them, “Hey, pay attention to me!”
Kindness does that. It makes the “something” light up.
Whenever we act with kindness, automatically our hearts glow more than usual. Automatically the field of love in which we bask intensifies.
And even if we don’t notice, these things transform us.
Of course this isn’t a case of either-or. We don’t have to choose between kindness and meditation. We can do both.
This isn’t the only reason to be kind. In fact we need no reason. Kindness is good in itself.
This post has a sequel: Be Kind, Part 3.
Photo by Ata Adnan. Take in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015. All rights reserved.