Archive for August, 2010

Why Kindness?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

There may be nothing on Earth each of us wants more from others than kindness. When all is said and done, it is our greatest measure of a fellow human being.  We may look past what we consider to be great flaws and foibles when kindness resides in the heart of another.  The saying “His heart was in the right place” tells us this noble truth.

I really like what His Holiness the Dalai Lama says when he is asked to describe his philosophy of living and the basic essence of Buddhism.  His eminently thoughtful perspective is well worth contemplating and practicing.  It is paraphrased as follows:

Each of us was born and each of us will die.  Each of us has suffered and each of us wants to be happy.  We are not so different from each other.  Really, we are the same.  Therefore let us be kind to one another, let us be tolerant of one another, let us be compassionate toward one another, and let us be respectful of all life.[1] Let us try to help one another and, if we are not able to help one another, then let us at least not hurt one another.[2]

This profound message of acceptance transcends spirituality and applies to all of us at a most basic, fundamental level.  One does not have to be religious or spiritual in order to understand and practice the path of kindness.   Yet kindness is a cornerstone of basic spiritual practice as well as basic human decency. 

Each of us depends on others in order to live.  Nearly all of us rely on others to provide basic functions such as growing our food, building our home, and making our clothing.  Other people are very important to us.  If we rely so heavily on other people, it is logical to be nice to them and to accept them as they are.[3]


[1] H.H. Dalai Lama & Howard Cutler, The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1998).

[2] H.H. Dalai Lama , Overcoming Differences (Parabola, The Magazine of Myth and Tradition, Winter 1991).

[3] H.H. Dalai Lama & Howard Cutler, The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1998).