A Religion Called Kindness

Kindness

When I was young, I wanted the world to see me as intelligent. When I got older, I wanted to be recognized as successful. As the years pass, I increasingly find that the quality that matters to me is kindness.

All of my spiritual learning, if I were asked to sum up in a word, would be contained within this simple word: kindness. Not ‘love’ – it has been far too glorified and corrupted by songs and movies and clever advertising. Not even ‘compassion’ which stinks of a certain holiness for me. Compassion implies another, less fortunate, being. Kindness needs no other. Perhaps closest to it is the Buddhist term ‘metta’ – translated as ‘loving-kindness’ and described as ‘a boundless, warm-hearted feeling’.

Kindness is a subject that has been gently nudging within, asking to be written for a while now. A few months ago, on my fortieth birthday, I considered writing a blog about forty things I have learned in forty years. Pondering deeper, only this one word resonated as worth sharing. From all the meditations, mastery processes and transcendental travels – the fragrance that flowers, is this simple, sane, human kindness.

Even though my brother and mentor GD rarely speaks about it directly, I see it in action when I stay over with him. From the way he lights an incense before you arrive, to the way he makes you tea. From the way he gives you space to be confused if you choose, to the way he holds himself available as a space for healing whatever distortion is clouding your being. It’s in the way he keeps water for birds in his garden in summer and in the way he feeds a menagerie of cats, squirrels, mongooses, crows, sparrow, pigeons and coucals every day. From him, I see that liberation from the concept of self adds the highest octave of sensitivity and effortlessness to kindness.

Kindness is not sugar-coating. Sometimes kindness lies in being silent when the words would leave longtime scars. For me, sometimes kindness is even in lying when a truth is not asked for. Maybe there are others who would disagree with this – and not without reason. Kindness is also in firmly holding a ‘no’ when my son wants to play a little longer on the iPad. No human is given the power to know all the consequences of his actions, but kindness is in the source, not the outcome. Kindness is not in what you do, but in who you are being; not in what you say, but in what you silently wish within.

Kindness in business is so overlooked. It is the place where it needs to be learned and applied the most. Kindness in dealing with colleagues who struggle to be proficient in areas their body-mind mechanism is not suited for. Kindness in dealing with those who pride themselves on their shrewdness – even as they are constantly proving how they are getting the better of you. And kindness in dealing with fearful opinions masquerading as common sense and ‘reality’. How often do I come to see that the sufferings and faults I blame life for only happened after I had lost my own compass of kindness!

This oft-ignored word may stand quietly in new-age consciousness behind spiritual heavyweights like ‘meditation’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘manifestation’. But without it, no amount of learning, achievement or clarity brings joy. Being kind doesn’t even imply action – it is a state of being that wishes well. It could be a silent prayer for someone having a hard day. A smile to a doorman. A quiet glance to someone used to living invisible. Or just that boundless, warm-hearted feeling that is held like a flame within.

This weekend I finally sat down to write about kindness because I was at the receiving end of such a gracious act of kindness from a friend I met after many years that it moved me to tears. It felt in that moment as if a lifetime of mental learning is tiny compared to a kind heart. (Maybe the function of all wisdom is to hold the heart open when the whole world would advise against it.) Then that person reminded me of a small help I had given her 11 years ago. And I marveled at the power of kindness to resonate across time, even when everything else about that life has been long forgotten.

Do take some time to be kind, please.

Not because it’s going to heal the world. But because, someday, you will see that nothing else was more important for yourself.

*

25 thoughts on “A Religion Called Kindness

  1. Even though I’ve never met you, I can tell from the way that you write that you are a kind and loving person. One whom I am glad to know and share my thoughts and feelings with. Such people are rare these days and often we need a reminder on how to be kind to each other. So thank you for your lovely blog and thank you to your brother and mentor GD for his guidance. Let’s hope we can all be united by the ‘Religion called Kindness’ 🙂
    Happy Friendship Day to you too 😀

  2. Amazing ! Your expression itself reflects the kindness you hold for your being and for the amazing way to become kindness in the different realities of this world…felt like i was perceiving words from a very BEAUUUUTIFUL BEING who has his/her BEING , BE-COME the words expressed in here and then just flowing itself and spreading itself on the blog, spreading and decorating the blog in THEIR OWN BEAUTIFUL BEINGNESS !
    BLISSFULL…is what i can say Sir Aalif ! I SALUTE YOU !

  3. Thank you Saanjiv!! This was a blog I was literally forced to write late last night, almost past midnight. I normally never publish a blog on sundays but again I felt compelled to do it. I take full credit as a postman for this message, but nothing more. Beings are not more or less beautiful, just more or less clouded. The journey to dissolve the veils for kindness continues for all of us together…

    • Kya baat hai..
      “Beings are not more or less beautiful, just more or less crowded. The journey to dissolve veils for kindness continues for all of us together”
      Some postman this!
      Like an empty flute.

  4. This is a wonderfully eloquent article with an importance that is belied in its apparent simplicity. As you suggest as much for yourself Aalif, I too am often tearfully emotional when I witness acts of sincere generosity and true kindness. Such acts embody the seemingly loftier ideas of non-harming, compassion, love, unicity and so forth, and yet without these acts, those ideas remain simply ideals.

    With gratitude and respect.

    Hariod.

  5. Thank you Aalif, for this beautifully written post on this, so important subject! And thank you for introducing me to this lovely Buddhist word ”metta”. Loving kindness. I believe loving kindness is living from the heart, it is inclusive, accepting, and healing: a healing place to be in, and healing for everyone who comes into contact with one who lives in loving kindness. I believe it is what this world needs most, and the central goal of all spiritual practice: to be in and radiate loving kindness. ❤

  6. so true and as usual so well written. mother Teresa came to our college once and told us ‘you must give till it hurts’. but i have realised that giving never hurts – the more you give – in any form – be it material things or words or acts of kindness – the better it feels.

  7. Such a beautiful post Aalif. You have such a way of capturing the essence of what you write about so that a simple concept like kindness holds so much depth. Thank you for this post 🙂

    • Hey Reena, thankuuu for your kind comment! I always wait for you to read my blogs because you have the sweetest point of view to share afterwards 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement.

  8. Beautiful beautiful post, Aalif!…I came across your blog quite by accident a couple of days back, and have been trying to catch up since! 🙂
    I feel as though I have known you forever! ….each one of your posts (so far!) has touched me deeply…your words come straight from the heart!
    This one on kindness is just so much on point!
    Can’t wait to read the rest of them….
    Your brother GD AND Dad are pretty awesome too!
    Much metta to you and yours… ( I know you consider everyone as yours….) 😀

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