So, I was pretty mean to somebody recently. She didn’t deserve it at all, and it crushed me. It may sound dramatic, but it felt like a small death to me. It was unwarranted and unlike me, for the most part. In talking to her a bit about it, and in apologizing, it was clear that it was a bigger transgression to me then it was to her. But on my end, that hasn’t changed things. And this is an opportunity not just to look at why I said what I said. I know why I did it. There were some unconscious/subconscious needs that weren’t getting met and this was an unskillful attempt to get a need met. The reason is not the point. That I did it, is. This is a good opportunity for me to pan out and take a bigger view at how I relate to my mind and to people in general and what truths I tether myself to in my daily walk.
Do No Harm
There’s a quote that’s been circulating on the internet seems fitting here. The quote is this, “Let us be kind to one another, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. So be kind. Always.” Always, it says.
The Golden Rule in Christianity reminds us to “do onto others as we would have others do unto us.” In Buddhism there is the notion of ahimsa, or non-harming. This is to be the primary orientation when engaging with ourselves and with others. In every religious and spiritual tradition and in nearly all secular philosophies this same theme is woven into the foundation of thought and deed. It’s also at the foundation of the Hippocratic oath.
Kindness as a Simplified Golden Rule
The truth is most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles. The problem is that our preoccupation with our own problems can blind us from the struggles and humanity of others when we are experiencing conflicted emotions. We can’t know what others are going through at all times. We are lucky if we know what even our closest loved ones are going through. By orienting toward upholding the ideal of “Be Kind. Always”, we are inoculating others from our actions and responses to them that stem from our emotions, judgements and reasons. We are cultivating a new way of being, a new neural pattern and a way of relating to ourselves, and others, that is more congruent with the arc of truth. The truth is, we deserve love. We deserve forgiveness. We deserve acceptance and self-acceptance. And we deserve Kindness. We deserve to give and receive the same.
Remember to Remember
How we remember this in the heat of the moment is that we don’t. In the heat of the moment what has already been practiced intentionally and ingrained, repetition, repetition, repetition, is what comes out. Current expressions of kindness and gratitude are a result of watering these seeds that were planted in a favorable (read: calmer) environment. This is the “cry in the dojo, laugh in the battlefield” way of living. We must be impacted by the pain of wrong doing and use it as a springboard to reprioritize, practice and to remember what matters. If it’s through reading books, through practicing a spiritual practice or discipline such as meditation where we get used to noticing our thoughts and not “believing” them to necessarily be true, or if it’s through wearing a plastic bracelet that says “Do No Harm” or “Be Kind. Always.” Whatever we do, work to be kind to ourselves and to others. Also, you’ll enjoy not needing to apologize to others for things you shouldn’t have said. When you are kind, always, you’ll find that your acts of kindness are not random but just a byproduct of who you are. Simply.
Kick the tires on this one and see how this works in your world with friends, loved ones and with strangers. Pretty sure it will be your new Golden Rule soon enough.