October 23, 2006


Sometime I see things so clearly. At least, I think I do. They seem simple and straightforward and easy to me. When other people see obscurity where I have clarity it makes me wonder if my understanding of that thing is somehow naïve; that it is possible I have simply skimmed the surface of what is in fact profound and complicated.

Kindness seems an obvious wisdom to me. I am kind to others in order that they might be kind to each other and to me in turn. Even if I cannot see the path that kindness will take to return to me, I see a clear and easy relation between my actions and those of others. And the more kindness I show others, the more altruism I build. Kindness becomes more and more an integral part of my nature and the selfish desire to receive kind treatment in turn becomes less and less important. That, ironically, makes me feel better about myself, even when people are unkind to me. I see great benefit to maintaining kindness and compassion even for the most difficult people, those greater society might think I had good reason to hate.

Then someone questioned compassion. “Where does it come from?”

This simple question made me in turn question my understanding of compassion, of loving kindness, and empathy. Do I cling to an over simplistic goody-goody conviction out of a need to feel good about myself?

No. We must first have compassion for ourselves. We must be kind to ourselves. That is the root of our kindness and compassion for others. Those who do not have this kindness towards themselves cannot be kind to others. Those who believe they have no reason to be kind to others truly have no reason to be kind to themselves either. Those who can be kind to themselves create the ability to be kind to those similar to themselves and from that grows a kindness to all beings as they come to realize all being are essentially like themselves. All beings want happiness. All beings want to be free from suffering. That includes me.

Perhaps I am naïve in other things, but kindness I think I understand well.

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