Encounters with unkindness

Can you remember the last time you were unkind to someone? Or thoughtless about something? Chances are, it doesn’t make you feel all that good – it probably makes you feel smaller, inside. When I remember acts of unkindness, either done by myself or done to myself, I feel a squirming inside, an uneasiness.

Still working on thoughts with compassion, exploring  words and acts of unkindness has been an enlightening experience.  Looking deeply at how it made me feel, what my reactions were, what others’ reactions were, what the outcome was, how it could have been prevented – all these I have meditated upon these last few months.  What I’ve come to realise is that no one likes to be unkind. There is no joy from it; perhaps if you are mentally ill, or there is a function in the brain that is not working as it should, then maybe you don’t feel bad, but on the whole, unkind acts do not produce any joy, any feelings of wellness.

Through our connectivity to each other, we perhaps have a deep-rooted empathy that we can acknowledge, if only we allow our ego to fall away, to quiet down and listen to what others have to say above the racket in our own brain.  We all share a life force; we all share a space on this planet, in this universe.  We are all thinking and feeling animals – if you are an animist, you also acknowledge a consciousness and inherent value in all things.  As humans, we all breathe the same air, air expelled from the lungs of others, turned into oxygen through various other life forms, breathing and sharing, breathing and sharing, the life breath that our ancestors breathed thousands of years ago, the life breath our lover breathes right now.

The word “kind” can mean a generous, benevolent, good person or deed, act or consideration.  It can also mean to be of a like group of individuals or objects – being of the “same kind”.  What I would posit is that the two meanings are entwined – kind thoughts, acts and deeds are a direct result of and inspired by being of the same kind.

Being unkind is distancing your self from others, making a distinct split in compassion from others, sometimes even diving into self-centredness in an anthropocentric world view.  Yet this distance, this separation is false – we can never be other than another life form on this planet. Another life form – we are surrounded by others all the time. Some are seen, some unseen – some are natural forces that create and destroy with violence or beauty, others are microscopic and surreal in their manifestation.  Yet we are never alone.

I think that the natural human tendency is to be kind towards others, for we have a specific consciousness that allows us to see and feel the repercussions of our actions.  We have the capacity of forethought, yet we use it all too seldom.  We are homo sapiens, the beings that are aware that we are aware. If we truly are aware, then unkind thoughts and deeds would not ring true in our heart of hearts.  Awareness is a journey towards the cessation of suffering.  If we are truly aware, then our suffering is eased.

Awareness comes in many forms, from simply being in the present moment to an understanding of the grander scheme of things, or seeing things from outside of your own personal perspective.  For how often has our perspective been wrong?  When we have been unkind to others, chances are it is because our perspective was skewed, and we reacted badly to a situation.  If we remember compassion, and strive to see the bigger picture, then with a little discipline and a lot of love we can change or modify our behaviour to help ease the suffering of all beings.

Those people who are unkind are trapped, and it may be helpful to remember that.  When someone is unkind to us, we can act with compassion. Sometimes that may mean seeing things from their point of view. Sometimes it may be walking away from a situation with honour and integrity.  When we find ourselves being unkind, or remember past deeds that are less than glowing, we can remind ourselves that it is up to us to choose freedom over chains.  We don’t have to let our behaviour rule us.  We can be passionate and loving without allowing emotion to skew our perspective. Emotion is such a personal thing, that it’s no wonder our wires get crossed all the time. It’s all about perspective.

In all things, I try to remember two words: be kind.  x

* Sparked by a conversation I had today with a lovely chap and artist (known as Bird Radio – do have a listen, there’s some really good stuff here! https://soundcloud.com/birdradio)  about perceptions, connectivity and many other things, this blog post simply poured out of me, and reminded me of the serendipitous nature of life and reality when it comes to, well, life!

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