A Few Words About Kindness

Today I was going to post about Project Feederwatch, but that will wait until tomorrow. Just know as the season changes, I get such pleasure in watching the birds visit my feeders. They keep me company throughout the day with their constant busyness and array of colors. Anyway – more on that tomorrow.

Rather, because I got such a lovely quote in my inbox this morning, and as the weather turns blustery, and the time change makes it dark almost before the boys are home from school, and some people are being crabby-pants because of it all, I thought I would proffer instead, a few thoughts on kindness.

Since forever I have been interested in religion and philosophy. Raised Catholic, but not convinced that it was working for me, I started looking around and settled on Buddhism as my spiritual go-to.  I really began to pay attention to the depths of its guidance after attending a three day teaching given by the Dalai Lama in Madison, WI in 2007. Always wanting more knowledge and insight, I of course  get many Buddhist related subscriptions and among them is a daily quote from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Today’s quote is from the article, “Equality” by Jeffrey Hopkins:

Kindness is Society

“During a lecture while I was interpreting for the Dalia Lama, he said in what seemed to me to be broken English, “Kindness is society.” I wasn’t smart enough to think he was saying kindness is society. I thought he meant kindness is important to society; kindness is vital to society; be he was saying that kindness is so important that we cannot have society without it. Society is impossible without it. Thus, kindness IS society; society IS kindness. Without concern for other people it’s impossible to have society.”

Yes indeed! Kindness is Society. Isn’t that often lost among the headlines and talking heads. Kindness is Society. I wish we had more Dalai Lamas to remind us every day. Maybe we can remind ourselves. Maybe thats why I like to feed the birds? But it’s not really that simple is it. Kindness is actually kind of complicated. For instance,  I have always and forever considered myself one of the nicest people I know. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you how nice I am. But kind? Not always so much. It takes some courage, some wisdom, some moxie to be kind when it’s soooo much easier to be nice or for that matter mean. So, over the years, studying Buddhism, I’ve finally learned the difference between being nice and being kind. And I am so much happier, but maybe not as nice.


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4 thoughts on “A Few Words About Kindness

  1. What an inspirational piece! I am inspired to write myself, look into Buddhism, be kind and feed the birds. A very important concept there, kindness vs niceness. I think this is something I have been grappling with myself, but you put it in such clear terms. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Love that quote. I’m also trying to remember to be kind to myself…sometimes we are not nice or kind to ourselves. Never thought about the difference between nice vs. kind, and think sometimes in being “nice” to others we are not being kind…to ourselves or them, esp. when getting into situations we don’t want to be in. Thanks, An Ho for sharing!

  3. I hope this doesn’t sound condescending… but I’m so PROUD of you! You got it started, and you’re (pun only semi-intended) running with it! Having read all your entries so far, they’re very… Zen, very thoughtful, and comforting on a certain level, like sitting next to one of those desktop fountain thingies, closing your eyes and relaxing. I like your blog theme, too; it seems very ‘you’. Please, keep on writing, and I’ll keep on reading!

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