The Dalai Lama said something I just love. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
This would be inspiring enough if anyone else said it. But the Dalai Lama isn’t just anyone.
When he was 23, he staged a cinema-worthy escape from his beleaguered home country of Tibet into India with a small group of others. To avoid capture by the pursuing Chinese army, they traveled on foot and mostly after dusk through the Himalaya Mountains, where it routinely drops to 23°F or lower at that time of year.
Given his history, the Dalai Lama might be forgiven for not smiling, shaking hands or even showing up to meetings with the government leaders who are responsible for his exile and who continue to persecute followers of Buddhism back in his home country.
Yet he does none of these things. He smiles. He shakes hands. He shows up.
He freely admits he sometimes feels anger or outrage just like any other person. So clearly, just as it is for me or for you or for anyone else, when the Dalai Lama chooses to extend kindness, it is an act of personal choice.
In one interview, he even makes a special point about how much attention is paid to brain development, but that development of warm-heartedness is still taken for granted.
Another one of my favorite mentors, author and intuitive teacher Sonia Choquette, has a similar take on kindness: the expression of kindness is our shared awareness we are all connected. “Kindness begets kindness,” she says. I love this!
In her book “The Answer Is Simple,” she expresses her belief that kindness is not necessarily something we actively do, but rather something we allow.
In other words, with or without kindness, there will still be errors, mishaps, mistakes, oopses as we proceed forward along our individual and collective learning curves. But without kindness, the constant expectation and striving for perfection will create extra hardships, littering our path with guilt, blame and shame. Without kindness, we will be harder on ourselves and harder on others.
With kindness, we allow extra time to get the lesson right – and for unlimited do-overs if the need arises. We allow time and space for what the Dalai Lama seems to do so easily despite the hardships of his life – laughter! We allow for imperfection in ourselves and the same in others. We allow for a life that includes patience, forgiveness, empathy and love.
Perhaps most importantly, Sonia explains how allowing kindness is necessary in order to live an intuitively-guided life. Intuition doesn’t love noise, hustle, bustle, rushing around, impatience or egoistic demands.
It likes deep breathing, stillness, meditation, contemplation, heartfelt conversation, journaling, nature walks….it probably enjoyed the Dalai Lama’s nightly treks through the Himalayas, although the rest of him was probably glad when those were over!
Intuition has its own internal clock that operates independently of to-do lists, deadlines, expectations and impatience. And it is not splashy or flashy – if we are not paying attention, she says, we can easily miss it.
I mention all this because I am really trying to cultivate a relationship with my own intuition, my inner guide and mentor, and one that puts kindness first.
This is how I envision it. Just as I wouldn’t rush up and tackle the Dalai Lama (much as I adore him) if I happened to get the great good fortune to meet him, so too I wouldn’t try to arm-wrestle my intuition to the ground to get a straight and swift answer.
Rather, I would approach gently. Softly. Respectfully. Gracefully. I would bathe first and deodorize and dress in something modest and (hopefully) at least somewhat aesthetically pleasing. I would speak softly and move my body gently. I would listen deeply and talk only if my input was specifically requested.
I would say “please” and “thank you” and “I’m sorry” if I got too carried away and interrupted. I would behave as if I was in the presence of the most precious, treasured being in the universe.
Right now as I type this, I am imagining how my daily connections might transform if I behaved like this with everyone – I mean, absolutely everyone. It seems to me this is what the Dalai Lama does. This is what kindness does.
This is what I want to do.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever thought about what kindness means and what it is? Do you think of kindness as something you do, something you allow, or something else entirely? Have you found anything that helps you remain open and kind even when you cross paths with people who have hurt you or have the potential to do so? I’d love to hear your thoughts.