Mumbo Jumbo News (Issue 7) June 2020
Hi Guys. In this June blog (Issue 7). I would like to contemplate the subject of kindness and compassion.
As in my previous blogs, I will draw on the views and opinions of past and current
masters, sages, mystics, gurus, philosophers and generally wise people. These blogs are designed to only give you a ‘taste’ of the information, knowledge and wisdom that is out there.
What is compassion? Compassion is said to be the ability to feel for someone or to have the same feeling as that of someone else (and having empathy and sympathy).
What is kindness? It is an act when trying to help others in need of help. Kindness is also an act of trying to help others in their difficult situations.
There is little doubt that everyone feels compassion for someone at some point in their life (this appears to be a basic instinct of humanity). Whether you then continually practice it is up to a number of things. Perhaps you are naturally that way inclined or conversely do not allow yourself to be moved or touched by such things.
It is, however, generally accepted that we are social animals and mostly choose to live in communities. And to this end we all experience life’s ups and downs from a number of perspectives.
And, as such, to feel included in a caring community, it is important that we are firstly, kind to ourselves and do not self-judge. We can then start to acknowledge our own suffering and understand that we are no different to everyone else and can share suffering (i.e. we are all in this life together). We then, hopefully, may be able to both receive and reflect the compassion and kindness that is in our community.
Social connection has shown to be even more important during this current COVID-19 pandemic. In the initial stages of the pandemic, you would think that, perhaps we had forgotten about how we evolved originally from tribal groups (i.e. it seemed to be ‘every man for himself’ and the selfish fear of missing out, FOMO). But it is now good to see all the different approaches to keep connected whilst in lockdown (i.e. including reports of spontaneous and deliberate acts of kindness to persons in lockdown who are normally living alone, are ill or cannot move freely in any case).
Such interactions have been reported in the media as; telephoning someone who normally lives alone who has been uplifted immensely by such contact and a person placing money into the letter box of a single mum who is out of work - these are powerful things. This pandemic has certainly defined us and has focussed how kindness and compassion can work.
There are certainly many kind people around and kindness can be shown by very simple acts to others at a social level (it is suggested that we are all probably genetically wired for kindness anyway).
It is also important to point out that we can mistake some acts of kindness being offered where the giver is trying to avoid conflict for instance or just even to make themselves look good. Authentic kindness is a real connector to the recipient and can give hope and even ensure the survival of a person(s) in extreme cases.
On the same point, compassion is said to be on the next level, and it requires a kind ‘heart’ and involves selfless action when connecting with others.
It could be that some persons are just naturally inclined to practice kindness and compassion to others. And certainly, those who recognise that they are on a spiritual journey (i.e. awake to the higher Self) may feel very strongly about such a practice being a foundation of their spiritual journey (this is also very true of people of faith in a religious sense).
All religious and spiritual belief systems invoke the benefits of kindness and compassion. However, I do find the references in the Eastern belief/philosophy systems, on this subject, to be written both beautifully and practically. They also resonate strongly with me especially when referring to consciousness or oneness (so I seem to refer to them more often). Also, the way they holistically guide us to understand the ultimate union with mind, body and soul, have a great impact on me.
In this context, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (popular ancient Indian Sanskrit teachings) illustrates the practice of ‘Ahimsa’ which can be distilled into a practice of non-violence in all aspects of life, from the physical to the mental and emotional.
‘Ahimsa’ is one of the five ‘Yamas’, which are ethical, moral and societal guidelines and an important spiritual doctrine shared by Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism (i.e. kindness and compassion is an absolute given).
It implies the total avoidance of harming of any kind. And being kind in thoughts and words towards all living creatures and to yourself, ensuring that all we do is done in kindness and harmony with the world.
Leo Tolstoy (Russian writer, considered to be one of the greatest Russian authors, 1828 – 1910) included the aspect of kindness in a book called “A wise thought for every day of the year,” He said it was compiled, “from the greatest philosophers of all times and all people, whose wisdom gives one great inner force, calmness, and happiness — thinkers and spiritual leaders who have shed light on what is most important in living a rewarding and meaningful life”.
Tolstoy envisioned, that this book would enlighten people, “About the Good Way of Life.” He spent seventeen years on the project.
In 1902 and very ill, Tolstoy finally completed the manuscript under the working title, A Wise Thought for Every Day. It was published two years later, in Russian (it was then banned under Communist rule), but it took nearly a century for the first English translation, by Peter Sekirin, to appear titled: A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the soul, Written and Selected from the World’s Sacred Texts.
For each day of the year, Tolstoy had selected several quotes by great thinkers around a particular theme, then contributed his own thoughts on the subject, with kindness as the pillar of the book’s moral sensibility.
Kindness quotes were dotted throughout the book and he writes in the entry for January 7:
“The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness he can find in other people.”
“Kindness enriches our life; with kindness mysterious things become clear, difficult things become easy, and dull things become cheerful.”
At the end of the month, Tolstoy writes:
“You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil.”
In the entry for February 3, he revisits the subject:
“Kindness is for your soul as health is for your body: you do not notice it when you have it.”
Then added, “Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
These kindness quotes continue throughout the book from himself and others.
OTHER KINDNESS AND COMPASSION QUOTES
"Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” Jesse Jackson (US Civil Rights activist. b.1941).
“An egoist lives in poverty. A kind person lives in abundance.” Maxime Lagacé (Canadian Professional Ice Hockey player. b.1993).
“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Genevan philosopher. 1712 – 1788).
“Act with kindness, but do not expect gratitude.” Confucius (Chinese philosopher. 551 BCE – 479 BCE).
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.” Kahlil Gibran (Lebanese- American writer. 1883 – 1931).
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain (American writer. 1835 – 1910).
“It is futile to judge a kind deed by its motives. Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind”. Eric Hoffer (American moral and social philosopher. 1898 – 1983).
“There are no such things as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams (American Author. b.1957).
“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.” Paramahansa Yogananda (Indian monk, Yogi and Guru.1893 – 1952)
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama (14th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism. b.1935).
“When words are both true and kind, they can change the world.” Buddha (Ancient Indian Philosopher, spiritual teacher, founder of Buddhism. 5th to 4thcentury BCE.).
“The only way to tell the truth is to speak with kindness. Only the words of a loving man can be heard.” Henry David Thoreau. (American essayist, philosopher. 1817 – 1862).
“Men are cruel, but Man is kind.” Rabindranath Tagore (Indian polymath, poet, musician, artist. 1861 – 1941).
It is considered that kindness is not something that demands hard work.
It originates from the simple act of doing no harm to others.
Kindness involves judging less, however compelled you might be to do so.
You should in no way undermine your self-worth at the expense of others, but simply practice kindness while upholding your integrity.
Kindness and compassion are good for you (see 'Psychological Science', 'The Compassionate Mind’ – Emma Seppala – 30 April 2013)
Check out the Australian Kindness Movement (kindness.com.au) and the Kindness Project and the Kindness Pandemic Public Group on Facebook – they all espouse the ‘Kindness Revolution’ and the ‘Kindness Pandemic’.
And finally, a great quote from John Wesley (English cleric, theologian. 1703 – 1791); “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can”.
Compiled by Baz Shirley. Contact: email@example.com
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