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Friday, September 24, 2010

On Kindness

I have been thinking a lot about kindness lately. Because it really seems that everyone is dividing into factions of dislike, distrust, and just plain dissin’.

As you move through life: how are you treating the people you don’t know?

It makes me think of earlier in the year, when I went to shop at an upscale department store; I had a gift card from Christmas. I picked out some really pretty pajamas, a gift for my mother-in-law, and a couple things for my daughters. It ended up being a pretty good pile of things. As I was being checked out, a line formed behind me. So I began taking the clothes off the hangers, folding them, and making sure the tags were facing up so the clerk could easily scan them. Another person came to help check people out, and everyone was taken care of. As we finished the transaction, the clerk leaned across the counter. “Thank you so much,” she whispered under her breath, “This is the first time since I began working here that anyone has ever helped me, and it means so much to me.” Wow. I was shocked.

This reminded me of my Guru telling us that to serve means to treat everyone like you would treat your guru, or your lover, or your own child.

So I am wondering if sometimes we are only kind to people we know, or when we feel that our kindness will return to us some benefit. Kind of like only donating to charity for the tax write off.

Intention is everything, and it is between you and the Mother-Father God to determine whether you do things out of a genuine kindness, or just to get your name in the paper. Gifts of money or time can accomplish great things, indeed, but I wonder if an accumulation of spiritual merit comes mostly from what you do when no one is looking.

Do you walk the way of kindness?

I have spent many years bumbling through life; worried only about myself and what was happening in MY life, to MY family, MY friends. Maybe it was the blinders of youth, or if I was comfortably oblivious; I know other times I willfully ignored those around me who struggled or were suffering.

Getting older has made me more aware of how important it is to walk through life as softly as you can; how important it is to choose to smile, instead of getting stuck in the dark places that my mind can create.

There is great joy in little kindnesses. Opening doors for strangers. Telling the hotel maid that she did a great job on your room. Letting someone pull out in front of your car. Taking a moment to admire someone’s adorable dog.

While you are practicing this art of kindness, there’s another aspect to it -- (here’s the kicker); you cannot judge those people who are not moving through the world mindfully. Particularly because, you’ve been one of them, at one point or another.

It simply takes a moment of thought -- When someone cuts you off on the highway, think that maybe they are hurrying to the hospital to see a loved one. When a forgetful someone makes a mistake, ponder that they may be mourning a loss, nursing a headache or heartache, or have recently buried a child.

We all rationalize our own behavior, cutting ourselves serious slack that we would never offer up to our fellow beings – particularly to people who make different choices, live different lifestyles, or have a different color skin or language

The old adage of “walk a mile in another’s moccasins” still rings true.

Go back through your day today, starting from the minute your eyes opened to now. Imagine for a moment that you will only receive back to you the kindness you gave away. How did you do?

Remember to act as if the quality of the rest of your life depends upon it. Because, it does.



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