Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the weeks of September 9 & 16, 2019


Kindness

(One Earth, One Love: 3)

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Acts of kindness make a difference, both to the recipient and to the giver. For the giver, kindness empowers. It brings meaning, connection, and right satisfaction. For the recipient, it raises faith, hope, gratitude, and contentment. All this even from small acts of kindness, especially if they are frequent. And more than that, like the notion of paying good fortune forward, kindness begets kindness. Each time we engage in some act of kindness, we become more likely to do so again. Each time we receive an act of kindness, our outlook and attitudes lighten a little, warm a little, making us more likely to be kind.

Consider also the kindness of the Earth. The soil and waters feed all living things. We are absolutely dependent on the Earth for our food. The air is open to all: nourishing, protecting, regulating the temperature, carrying sounds, applying the unnoticed but necessary pressure on our skin and in our lungs. How long would any of us survive in outer space without a spacesuit to provide Earth-like conditions? Yet we take these conditions for granted, not even noticing them.

The beauty of land, sky, and sea is here for all. And what a remarkable abundance and variety of beauty there is, on scales from the tiniest bacterium to the planet as a whole, this gorgeous blue and white pearl on the black background of space. The beauty we see in nature embodies the Earth's kindness toward us.

Here we are, beneficiaries of billions of years of living evolution, nurtured and sustained by and on this Earth. What kindness indeed!

Kindness, to be sustained, must include kindness to oneself. Spiritual self-care, for example, as through meditation, also serves as self-care for the Earth, because we are part of the Earth. By caring for ourselves, we care for the Earth. By caring for the Earth, we care for ourselves.

Beyond the self-care paradigm, how can we care for the Earth? What does it mean to be kind to the Earth? The ways are myriad. People are part of the Earth, so kindness to people counts in this regard. All the animals and all the plants are part of the Earth, so kindness to them also matters to the Earth. One can imagine the Earth smiling whenever one species, one of us, is intentionally kind toward other species, an animal or a plant.

Of course, contradictions and conflicts arise in the practical details. An act of kindness toward one may be unkind toward another. This is where we pay attention to our conscience, to understand right action.

Acts of kindness need to be appropriate to the recipient and the situation. How, for example, can one be kind to a tree, other than planting it or watering it when necessary and feasible? We could try being with the tree. The tree is alive and standing here. We are alive and standing here. We share this aliveness with the tree. We share the air with the tree. We share the light with the tree. Can we be with the tree?

The practice of kindness is a spiritual practice. To practice kindness, we must go beyond ourselves, let go of our stance of separateness, our position. Can we open to the other, so we are not so separate from the other? Can we let go of that inner wall of separation that puts me on the inside and everything and everyone else on the outside? Can we open to the sameness we share with all? The practice of kindness is a spiritual practice, because letting go of ourselves, going beyond ourselves, brings us into the Sacred, into love. Acts of kindness close a loop from the Sacred acting through the giver to the Sacred in the receiver.

We carry the Earth's will in us. We are the Earth. One way the Earth acts is through us, if we allow it. We act for the Earth. We act as the Earth.

For this week, please practice kindness.


        

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