Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Will to Love

The Dalai Lama makes a big deal of kindness:

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

I agree with him, kindness, love, whatever you call it, is the supreme human quality, that which makes live worth living. 

Next comes the question, of how to be kind? Before I knew better, I used to think of love as a random occurence. Sometimes I felt moved to love, sometimes the opposite happened. In it stead, came hate, or indifference. Some people I found easy to love, others I called a pain, or downright nasty. The conditions had to be right . . . 

Now, I have changed my view, and I have come to the conclusion that love is an act of will, to be exercised moment to moment. Paying attention to the mind's constant stirrings, I catch myself often with a thought that could take me down an unwanted path, if I let it. Just one thought in the privacy of my mind, that's baiting me to move away, divide, judge, react, distrust . . . Just one thought begging to be said out loud, and do permanent damage, to myself and others . . . Just one thought with the potential to be acted out, down the line . . . Just one thought . . .

From having gone down the unwanted path, many times before, and watching others do the same, I have learned a big lesson. Left unchecked, a single unloving thought can create havoc in its wake. Words, said hastily, and leaving permanent wounds or grudges. Wrong actions, whose karmic effects can be felt for years, and sometimes one's entire life. So much unnecessary suffering, starting with just one little thought!

Of course, even with the best of intentions, there are moments still, when a careless word slips out too fast, or a wrongful deed takes place, and I am left with remorse, and the humbling reflections of my very imperfect human nature. A dangerous space where self-loathing lurks . . . A time to practice patience, and self-acceptance. An opportunity to open the heart, and apologize. A necessary step along the way of understanding and love. The more I feel the sting of my misdeeds, the more vigilant and willing I become to guard against the untamed mind.

On the receiving end also, lie plenty of opportunities to practice. Forgiving others for their own imperfections, particularly those without a vantage point from which to assess their thoughts. They are letting their unruly mind rule their lives. There is much compassion to be had there.


  1. Right speech is a hard one sometimes I agree. Hard to respect others, we should treat, say for example a homeless person with the same respect as a Roshi or a Bhikku but instead fear sometimes creeps in most people won't even make eye contact.
    Your post is right on, lots of opportunities for practice.

  2. Thank you for visiting, and for the comment.

    Yes, the person without a home . . . I am guilty of that one often. Fearful thoughts creeping in. Thank you for bringing my attention there.

    Thank you also for gift of your blog. I love your posts, short, real, and filled with Dharmic vibes.