Every moment of our lives, we can do something beautiful……especially when we feel alone, when we feel down,when we feel restless,we can simply look within ourselves and find one small positive attribute of kindness to give away…….from within …..a smile, a word, a spontaneous act, a small donation to a charity,a walk in nature to see the birds, to hear the leaves rustling and feel that we are blessed.When we kiss our child, our grandchild, when we can embrace ourselves in tenderness to know that we can feel and relate to the suffering of others….when we can caress our pets and know that we can care …….when we can listen to a spiritual word of comfort and know that there are teachers of truth who are available on the internet, thru books…we can open up ourselves to knowledge and ways to find healing for ourselves in courses and therapies…..so we are not alone to deal with our pains and inner difficulties………there is always a friend somewhere to help guide us and be with us …if only we ask, we seek and we knock,perhaps on heaven’s door ……….we also can be humble and grateful for the love we already are Within……….we can always open to love and be loved when we are not afraid to allow love lead the way……….
December 1998……..a few days before Christmas,I felt like a lost sheep who had come back from working in Saudi Arabia,jobless,broken, depressed,in severe physical bodily pains and financially broke…………..with my heart wide opened and humbled and surrendered…….I sat in Saint Anthony’s church,Vancouver quietly praying after I had attended an evening Mass.In my prayer that evening….…my heart implored!
I remembered asking sincerely,”give me something to do!”( I was not asking to have a job or to be healed of my pains or anything to help my finances…….(I knew it was not the right thing to ask at that time),but what I actually wanted was to be of service,for my heart and talents to be utilised..…
I surrendered that prayer and was walking out the church when at the door I was approached by a choir member who was looking for singers for Christmas day morning Mass(which was only maybe 3 days away)….I said,”I dont sing but I play the guitar”…she said “thats what we really need is a guitarist for the choir”…..and asked if I wanted to give my time to play for Christmas and on a regular basis……..I said yes but I didnt have a guitar at that moment for practice…….she said she could get one………and there I was practising with the organist and choir………..then I remembered my prayer to be of service.
Yes I was honored and played my guitar happily for that Christmas Morn,1998!
I was not satisfied simply with playing the guitar for Mass, I knew there was more of my heart that could be used….so I kept on asking in my dedicated self prayer petitions and quiet sittings in the austeriy of the church………one week later just before the New year(1999)…I saw a poster on the church door which read…….’The Door is open’,volunteers needed for soup kitchen to feed the needy.”I immediately felt a bell ring in my heart and went home to give them a phone call……..…
A few days later,I started humbly in the soup kitchen,serving the poorest of the poor,the uncared for,the forgotten and the diseased(HIV/Aids).As I served them, I looked through their eyes and hearts and felt their suffering and I saw myself in each one,I witnessed myself looking at each one with tenderness and respect…we shared the same suffering but in a different picture,a different scenario….each one of them needed love and happiness and to be cared for… and I realised too that I needed the same.I noticed my heart opening with compassion and kindness and a reaching out to love…….that reaching out was not only to them but towards myself…….I needed to love myself ,I needed to care and nurture for my damaged soul,the damage only I myself could undo and make reparation for.
One day I brought my guitar along to the soup kitchen and sang a few songs for them while they ate,to hopefully bring some music and comfort for their troubled souls…..
A few months later after serving the soup kitchen,I then went on to walk on the streets of Eastside Vancouver for the downtrodden,prostitutes,heavy hardcore drug users and those forgotten by society,there my own broken-ness was further healed by the horrible suffering I witnessed,my body pains began to vanish,I got a job as a RN in a rehabilitation hospital and worked hard at it, my true spiritual journey began.I stayed on in the choir for one more year and later donated my guitar to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd(Toronto)……………I had to learn when to give up and let go of everything I enjoyed and loved as soon as I learned that whatever I needed to do was done…..I allowed myself to feel all emotional attachments and then to let it go,it is a way of the so called dying to ego,to self glory and gains…..just as the Buddha had said…….”when we have crossed the river using the raft we had built,we let go of the raft,we do not lug it around onwards in our journey.”
Prayer will help open the door to the next realm needed for us to do whatever is necessary for our own healing processes.It is the raft that will help us cross the river of our lives and help us grow,change and evolve for a higher purpose.When we pray,we not only express out words in our minds and hearts but we become aware of everything happening within us and around us because every corner of our being and surrounding is calling for attention and warrants us to stop and see how we could be of service to self and others….we need to see and put in action what the Universe(God, Divine Source,Allah, Atman etc.) calls us to do…it might be a simple matter as being more attentive,kindly and caring to people we say we care,our spouses,children,mothers/fathers,brothers/sisters,friends,etc….and when we see ourselves care more towards others, we can acknowledge the goodness that resides within us.We can then say our prayers have been answered!
Prayer helps us to keep vigilant of our inner states!
I love you for who you are……..
because who you are is also who I Am…..
When you suffer…..I suffer too,because I recognise my own suffering and weaknesses so I feel compassion and relate to your discomforts and un-ease………
When you are happy….I rejoice,because the environment Is joyful and light-hearted and I too have experienced and know what’s its like to feel happiness.
When we behave kindly,joyfully and respectfully,the atmosphere around is blessed,people feel at ease and unburdened…..adversely,people can become jealous and malicious,because they are suffering and don’t like to see or believe in happiness,thus they unconsciously and deliberately sabotage others’happiness and goodness…because they are suffering,they want others to suffer too and the cycle goes on…..hurting begets more hurting……unhappiness creates more unhappiness…………….hatred and anger agitate more hatred and anger……..the wheel cannot seem to stop!
When the world suffers in wars,nuclear threats,natural catastrophes,materialism and greed,unjust control of power,bullying/terrorism,abuse and cruelty of sorts to humans,animals and nature,famine/poverty and together with each our own personal unrest at home,with friendships,society,at work,educational places,religious organisations etc………..we are all affected to some degree.
We might not realise it but when we look deeply within ourselves we react disturbingly to suffering around.We react through our thoughts/intentions……….we may resent someone(it could be someone we say we care for) and unreasonably get mad,blame,taunt and wish ill-will upon them simply at the way they look,they dress,they laugh,they walk,even when they are sick etc.etc………….
We may react adversely to suffering through our words,speech and voice……sometimes we might find ourselves being agitated for no apparent reason,we might pick on someone close and say something harsh,hurtful,sarcastic,offensive,rough,obnoxious and unreasonable without understanding and thinking through.We not only hurt another but resist to soften up to sincere apologies and making amends even after realising the wrongdoing.
Another way we react to suffering is through our action or inaction……..we can become bullies,needy and needing to control without even becoming aware of what we are doing to others or even to ourselves.We allow anger and aggression to overcome us,anger and aggression doesnt necessarily have to be physically violent but a subtle violence of witholding care and concern for another and self by way of not wanting to nourish the body,mind and spirit,not wanting to seek help eventhough,life is being more and more miserable and unhappy and depressive.We run away into a world of delusion by way of addictions….anything done obssesively without any care for the well-being of self and others……drugs,alcohol, sexual pleasures,entertainment,fun,work,food,etc.etc….we retreat into a selfish realm of self hatred,hardness and meanness…………
We react to suffering through our feelings and emotions…….feeling drained and helpless,life is meaningless,sadness,worst still,we overcome ourselves with self hatred and anger at the suffering we see and hear and than unconsciously we punish ourselves by putting ourselves down,not feeling good about ourselves,treating ourselves and others badly sometimes rudely and inconsiderately for all the guilts and shame and fears we face…and thus we need an outlet……we need to feel good superficially and temporarily……..we need to pretend and generate lies that we are happy,we want others to think that we are busy enjoying life,we are afraid to ask even if we don’t have any idea about the truth,we don’t want to look foolish,we need to be seen as clever.We hide our vulnerabilities and true essence of goodness/kindness and generosity to avoid being taken advantage of.On the other hand,our physical demeanor might appear hardened and tough and rigid/cold,aggressive to appear of being in control/or having control of our lives and to give a feeling that no-one can ‘play the fool’with us.
We have a heart,we can feel,we can care…..we have a physical heart like everyone which can be afflicted with various medical ailments…..whether with a healthy or unhealthy heart condition,it will stop some day and we will inevitably face death!
We have a mind,we can think and reason,we are able to recognise and be cognizant..……. there are millions who are afflicted with mental illnesses…we all might relate to one in particular …..the wandering/restless mind!
We have a body,we have sensations,we have some form of physical strength and vitality……………there might be a time when the body gives way to bad health,cancers,diseases of bones and skin,etc…..one in particular,we all share is aging!Some may want to slow the aging process of way of all kinds of chemicals,drugs, surgical implants and operations,but can they?
We each have a soul,a sacred space for goodness and a Higher purpose…………..innately within each human is the potential for awakening to the truth of ourselves and enlightenment.Every sentient being has the inherent capacity to unfold the Highest Good within themselves for the benefit of oneself and the whole of humanity…….
But we all think we are different from each other …..we may be different in our skin color,our culture,our climate,our gender,our status in family/society,our religious/educational beliefs,our personal,physical,mental and emotional outlook.
In truth….we suffer the same mental/emotional anguish and torments,fearfulness,worries/anxieties,resentments,bitterness,upheavels,depression and lethargy,anger/frustrations,jealousies,selfishness,/greed,need for control/attention, lust and covetousness,excitements and mood swings,unhappiness,addictive behaviours……..underneath all these afflictions….we as sentient beings are craving for love and happiness……..
What is the root of happiness….it is in the dissolution of ignorance and un-necessary suffering.
When we become dependent upon external factors for happiness and love,when we are expecting others and various excitements to fulfill our selfish needs and dissatisfactions,we will constantly be going through the wheel of samsara(suffering).But when we strive to see who we truly are within,we witness the truth of our existence and there find our divine essence of love,peace and happiness.
Strangely enough,we say we want happiness and love,but yet we do not allow ourselves the courage to change to be creators of love and happiness.We wallow in self doubts and put limitations on ourselves to go beyond our mundane everyday duties and activities.We tend to be judgemental and critical of our own capabilities to do something phenomenal such as opening our hearts to its full potential! And we go about our lives finding faults with everything and everyone else and with ourselves too.What have we got to be afraid of in seeing our own true nature….don’t we want to know who we truly are?What are we doing to make for ourselves and others a happy,peaceful and loving atmosphere?
All of us on this human journey are here to be of help and support for each other,to be teachers and students,to learn and to teach till we awaken to our true nature.In life and various living situations,we have been gifted with all kinds of people…….. strangers,people we love, people we don’t care for, people we avoid,people we are inevitably connected to,people who pass us by only once,people who make trouble for us,people, we have a tendency to resent and even hate,people who make us happy and comforting,these are our true teachers on this journey……….we have to face each one and learn from them…we too in return are teaching life lessons back to each one of them.We each are given a chance to be learning and teaching patience,forgiveness,to be generous,kind, humble,courageous,tolerant,trusting,accepting,faithful,compassionate,loving,understanding, respectful,simple and helpful until the heart opens its full capacity to Love without expecting any gains in return…in other words until it becomes unconditional!
In truth we cannot change anyone or any traumatic situation around the world,we have only our own self to change first.As the saying goes…..’we cannot change the course and direction of the wind but we can adjust the sails accordingly’,for if we try to go against the wind,the boat will surely capsize!
No good or positive actions in words, thoughts/intentions,emotions and deeds will be ever be wasted…..the seeds have been planted,we don’t go digging up to see if its taking root or wilting away……..everyone and everything will evolve accordingly to ‘karma’….as the Buddha and Jesus said,we reap what we sow. If we want happiness and peace and love,we have to be the happiness, peace and love!
We can begin to sow and cultivate good seeds by starting within ourselves,by taking responsibility to be aware of how we go about our lives and how we interact with others,we can nurture goodness by way of changes to ourselves to all that we do not deem caring and beneficial to ourselves and others…..we have to start with ourselves for no one will come and give us happiness,peace or love…..and even if they did try to,we sabotage its potency with the false perception of our human frailties,unworthiness and unwholesomeness…………we can always make a conscious effort for changes and growth to help ourselves and humanity!
We are sharing this journey with others,what is the use of complaining and making life on earth more difficult and harder and tedious and energy draining for all but rather instead use our human potential for positive transformation….we have the breath,the mind and heart to work with to restore harmony within ourselves and towards human life and living……………….the ultimate truth is that we will leave everything we have,we love and possess behind,why not make this human journey a beautiful loving commitment to live by while we walk on this earth……..we can start with our family, our friends,our society, at our workplace,places of fellowship,nature and while we are having fun and pleasantries….we can be aware to not hurt and cause more suffering to ourselves and others!
Unnecessary suffering is an option we can consciously choose to do away with,love, happiness and wisdom are inherent within each human being,we can and need to uncover ……enjoy and share them unceasingly………………..
“however many holy words you read,however many you speak,what good will they do if you don’t act on upon them”________Buddha
“however many holy words you read, however many you speak,what good will they do if you don’t act on upon them”__________Buddha
What are our thoughts on kindness.Can we ponder/reflect on this word?How have kindness played a vital part in our lives,has it moved us,touched us,changed us or has it been a neglected/hidden energy left to be explored and experienced?Have we had the chance to be kind yet dismissed the whole gesture of it.Do we want to be kind?Can we be kind?Do we want kindness directed towards us?
I am sure the answer will be yes,we all would like some kindness in our lives.We might even expect people to be kind to us at most times.Yet are we willing to show true kindness without expectations for any returns……………………..
To exercise Kindness requires the wisdom, awareness and understanding of the heart and mind,without which it can become conditional to a state of no true bestowal of benefits and blessings to both giver and receiver,no touching or opening of hearts.It can become a duty to please another,it can be an ulterior motive to gain attention for oneself or to want rewards in return.Kindness in this condition therefore becomes a disguise for looking our best,trying to look good to mask our hidden ulterior agenda………There are also some who can be called soft hearted…….they will be foolishly ‘kind’ to all others but themselves(they are afraid to hurt others),and people take advantage of them,and suffering ensues both ways!
It is true what the Buddha says in the above quote……….we can be well versed in religious/holy scriptures but if we don’t exercise any form of kindness with the right and sincere of intentions,what good can come out of it,both for ourselves and others?
Kindness means a projection of good wishes,goodwill from one to another.It can be thru thoughts,feelings,words and action.A Kind deed is not restricted to only human beings but to animals,any form of living things,nature(the environment) and also towards inanimate objects(where we may show our aggression in the form of thrashing,littering,kicking,beating,damaging,etc.).
Do we choose to extend kindness to a select few people in our lives?Is it for those whom we care about,our families,close friends and associates or in some cases people cannot show kindness to people close to them but instead are able and find it easier to be kind to animals, strangers, people other than family and friends and some may falsely try to be ‘kind’to unkind people out of fear!And of course there are the some who cannot practice the art of kindness………..
What stops us from acting kindly and why?As sentient beings,we have the tendency to fear of being hurt,we want to protect our self limiting weaknesses of a sense of lack(not enough for myself).We need the control for being the ‘bigger one’,selfishly,we decide the other does not need any more kindness or goodness than they already have.The fear of being taken advantage of,’if I give more,they want more’.There is the fear of people expecting of them consistently,without the mutual exchange of kindness in return.And there is the fear of what do I get out of being kind to this person or that person,fearing a high expectation that wont be met.There is also the fear of rejection and ridicule for being kind,a bad taste that wont be repeated! The bottom line is fear itself!So we close ourselves and shut all our innate goodness within the locked walls of the heart?And we expect to find peace and joy?When we are afraid to be kind,we prevent the sweet fragrance of love to enter and leave the heart.
Kindness is the key to unlock the bolted door of the heart and in there we are able to see nothing lacking but a free flowing treasure-full space of generosity,charity and all pervading goodness that will never lack.Kind actions and intentions are the antidote to our insecurities,mean-ness,selfishness,jealousies,greed and miseries……….
When we are unafraid to act selflessly(acting for the benevolence of self and others)thru kindness of any sort,we open up and empty the mind and heart of negative energies and afflictions,we nourish the inner self,we witness our courage,strength and fortitude and we see goodness within and we can love,understand and respect ourselves and others.The radiating beauty,richness and grace of true kindness shines thru the Being eventhough the body maybe be covered in warts and scars.
….a poor maid,out of simplicity and happiness,on her day off,bakes a cake for her rich landlady……the door of her heart is flung open with love and kindness and has become the gracious and richer one than that of the landlady…..
Thoughtfulness and kindness go hand in hand,it is the willingness to make and see another happy without reservations,without limitations and without conditions,it is the willingness to go thru all extent for the benefit to wish another sincerely well,in good care, health and wealth.
Blessings of happiness arise for the giver seeing another happy,heart is opened,mind is relaxed and one’s mood and well-being is uplifted.Thus kindness works both ways.
Most importantly,are we being kind to ourselves…..do we deprive ourselves from the freedom to open our hearts to the warmth and tenderness of our own goodness!
There is absolutely nothing to lose from being kindly and acting out of kindness….all that we might lose would be pride,the fear of lack and arrogance!
At some point in all our lives,we have been affected and have witnessed true kindness,we don’t need to be holy/religious,to be a Buddhist,Christian,Hindu,Muslim, Jewish,etc.in order to experience kindness,we need only a creative heart of kind action!
As I sat watching the snow fall yesterday and listening to christmas music……I thought ….how blessed I am to be able to have a home to find warmth and comfort and be safe! My body isn’t as light with health and physical strength as I used to have……..despite my body feeling like a block of frozen ice about to crack open in this extreme cold wintery weather……I delight in the knowledge of the joy, peace and Love that dwells Within. I even find so much delight when I see my little friend the squirrel/s running along the ledge of the fence and that brings on a smile on my face that could last most of the day!
Then, ……..I resonate with all those who are sufferring severely in this dreadful weather,my heart opens in compassion for the lonely(those who have lost loved and dear ones)the heartbroken,the disabled,the seniors,the sick,the poor,the homeless,the mentally challenged,victims of bully and hatred and anger and violence and yes…..all those women,children and victims of war-torn countries….how much of suffering they endure in the worst of terrorised circumstances and weather conditions and tormented by fear and lost of human dignity!
My Being bears their plight and sorrows and I breathe out sincere good wishes(prayers)for their safety and protection and end of suffering.
Most endearing to my heart is the remembrance of my time walking on the streets of Eastside downtown Vancouver especially so in the cold,windy,rainy and sometimes snowy times of the winter months where I would walk for 4-5 nights a week being with women(and men as well)who would ‘sell’and abuse their bodies,intoxicate themselves with heavy drug usage and have no inkling about life or death.These winter months are the worst for them….to stand in the cold and be drenched in rain/snow…..almost inhuman,how and what they subject themselves into just to make money to feed their cravings for drugs.
Underneath all that atrocities and sufferings….there is a human heart filled with a potential to open to Love in each of them as so with all of us.Although they might be condemned or judged for their own mistakes and faults and transgressions….we too share the same transgressions to a lesser,contained extent……….
They are mothers,wives, sisters,daughters,sons,fathers and loved ones,left downtroddened,homeless and forgotten…….most of them had scarred their bodies so grotesly…..most lost their teeth,their bodies ravaged by needle marks and scabs and infected wounds,some were beautiful(thru photos they kept)and now unrecognisable!
No matter what, Christmas season was painful for them …..the sadness of their separation from children and loved ones,owning up to their follies and mistakes but too caught up with the addictions,not being able to celebrate the festive season like anyone else……they talk of their unworthiness and self defeated low esteem and there are the hardened ones who would speak crudely of the Christmas festivities………..
As I walked ……tears would sometimes run down my cheeks….there was nothing I could do……..I brought along my senses of feeling and touch(hugs,a kiss,a hand to hold and caress),listening ear,my shoulders to cry on,a few words of comfort,my stilled presence and a quiet heart of compassion and courage to be there with them.I was there on the streets a few christmasses foregoing the celebrations with family and friends….It was not about heroics but the joy they gave me to allow my Heart to be fulfilled and be of use for this purpose of sharing with those who have not and left forgotten!
A particular Chhristmas day walk story quite a long few years ago while in my healthy body……a story of Alice(she had a history of violence and once I was almost assualted by her with a scissors).That christmas night,I remember her being saddened with not being able to see her children and missing Midnight Mass ….so I offered to take her to mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary in Vancouver after I had completed my routine walk….she waited for me but was already high on drugs……..we arrived to a very packed church…….she wanted to go to the front,she said she wanted to see ‘Jesus’….so we went up to the nativity scene right close to the altar…..we sat on the floor……I noticed the archbishop was eyeing us….Alice was fidgetting and trying to reach into the crib…..I allowed her to be….then she simply fled the church,I couldn’t find her…..I drove home feeling love for myself for what I had done…..not being ashamed of myself for caring and showing kindness to a ‘lost soul’.I was empowered by the joy of being human towards another human being for standing up to courage,for not being bothered if we were properly attired for midnight mass(cause this was a time when we proudly dressed up)…….I was enriched and nurtured for being spontaneous in Love for having been unafraid to do something beautiful for another….simply to say that …..”I know you are broken and high on drugs but I care and want to show you how important still you are!”
In writing this of my human experience in the face of pain and suffering……..my heart remains open to the preciousness of Life and Love…..true religion is found in the Heart of every human being……the utilisation of Love within that vessel is the utmost importance in our lives as sentient Beings……all else are secondary…. how we must first learn to open our hearts to ourselves…when we care for our being,body mind and spirit….when we become aware of how our lives affect others(so as not to make others suffer foolishly, selfishly,needlessly and conditionally) ……when we cherish the love for ourselves, our loved ones and others….we can give peace and goodwill from our hearts to the suffering in the world.And it doesn’t matter if our hearts have to go thru hurts and brokeness over again….it will only become tender and resilient….just as meat have to be beaten to become tender….so will our hearts……if the heart is afraid of taking a beating….it will harden and be of no use to even those who are close to us…..how would we help the world?