Friday, November 8, 2013

Kindness and the Ego

"In every religion there is love, yet love has no religion."

~ Rumi

I wrote on this subject the other day. The Dalai Lama has said that his religion is kindness. Buddhists speak of “loving kindness.” I have come to see the invitation to kindness as being – among other things - a peaceful yet very effective way of disarming my Ego, and thus progressing to a more enlightened person.

Case in point. Again the other day at the grocery store, I was confronted with situations at which my Ego was practically salivating, e.g., the woman who left her cart right in the middle of the aisle. “What was she thinking?!” my ego says. “How inconsiderate.” “Really?” I asked, do they really have to move that slowly? Do they not realize that there are other people in this store besides them?”

And then, and then, the gentler angel of my nature says something like, “Really? Really, Joseph? Do you really enjoy letting yourself get irritated by thoughtless acts of others? You do realize, don’t you, that they have not come to the store at precisely the same time you decided to grace the place with your presence, just to irritate you?”

Well, that maybe is not the voice of “the gentler angel of my nature,” but it’s pretty spot on.

The gentler voice comes next, full of compassion. “Joseph, you are called to something better than this. Try to work on it, ok? I promise that, if you do, you’ll have marvelous experiences.

I sense very strongly that this voice speaks truth. As I reflected upon that experience at the store while writing in my journal, I wrote, “In kindness is love found and conveyed. It’s a win-win situation. I suspect that one of the reasons I have been and am unkind is because I don’t like – or rather haven’t liked – myself, and my attitude and behavior toward others is a reflection of how I feel about myself. As I practice loving kindness, I can learn to better love myself.

In this regard, I have started reading a wonderful book by John O’Donohue entitled Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (Anam Cara is Gaelic for "soul friend"). I’m sure I will have much to say about the treasures of this book as I slowly work my way through it. As it happened, I read the following passages the day after my experience at the grocery store:
“Each person also has an inner face, which is always sensed but never seen. The heart is the inner face of your life. The human journey strives to make this inner face beautiful. It is here that love gathers within you. Love is absolutely vital for a human life. For love alone can awake what is divine within you. In love, you grow and come home to yourself. When you learn to love and let your self be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit. You are warm and sheltered. You are completely at one in the house of your own longing and belonging … You lose the balance of your soul if you do not learn to take care of yourself. You need to be generous to yourself in order to receive the love that surrounds you.”
Moral of the story: practice loving kindness to yourself and to others. It becomes a cycle, a circle that grows in richness and blessings.

One more quote by O’Donohue about love that perfectly describes some of what I have felt since meeting Mark:
“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, not there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.”
Sigh. Such beautiful prose.

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