Namo Guru Bey: Gratitude to Namnange Mingjo Dorje Rinpoche for his kindness and wisdom!
Many religions, including Buddhism, value kindness. Still, the actions of religious people, including Buddhists, are not always kind. Many Mahayana Buddhist practices focus on developing kindness because, though it is important to be kind, it is not easy. Here are a few of the ways Rinpoche has been teaching to help improve kindness.
We come into this world dependent on others. For our whole lives we are supported by others. My possessions, food, and even my body were created with the help of uncountable others. Everything I love and enjoy depends on the support of others. Thinking repeatedly with gratitude about those infinite helpers, kindness can arise in the mind, and actions will follow.
We may act kindly in front of others in order to look good, or to look better than others, or in the hopes that the recipient will return the favor. If we become annoyed if our kind actions are not noticed or appreciated or returned, this shows our underlying motivation was really to benefit our self. Examining ourselves honestly will improve our humility, and then the purity of our kindness can improve.
Sometimes when we see someone else doing something kind, we may become competitive or jealous and criticize their kindness. This makes it unsafe for people to try to be kind around us, and hurts our motivation to be kind ourselves. Instead, rejoicing in someone else’s kindness will help those around us improve and own kindness will increase.
We sometimes view ourselves as separate and independent from others. This is “me” and that is “you.” Any kindness I might show you is conditional if I see us as having separate, sometimes conflicting, interests. How I treat you depends on who you are to me right then — friend, enemy, or stranger. Forgetting our connections, it is possible to think that one can win and one can lose. That is not true, because we are actually connected. If one loses, the other will eventually lose, too. Also, seeing ourselves in a world of separated “me” and “you” is lonely and harsh, not kind, to ourselves. Thinking about the hazards of this view can help us set it aside and allow kindness to grow.
Kindness arises from understanding “us.” We are connected and not different in the essentials. You — like me — want happiness and want not to suffer. When I see you hungry, I know what that feels like, so I give you food the same as I would give myself food if I were hungry. We suffer from the same changing emotions and events. You may have been in my circumstances in the past, and my circumstances could change to yours in the future. As naturally as a seed grows, from the view of “us” comes the motivation of a kind heart, which brings kind actions. We can learn to see ourselves reflected in every face, not just the ones we know or the ones we look like. If we check and correct our view several times per day, looking for how we are alike, moving from the view of “you and me” to the view of “us,” our actions will automatically become more kind.
May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that is beyond all sorrow.
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from attachment to some and aversion to others.