Meditations on Kindness, Part 4: Wise Accounting
True spiritual wealth emanates from that great free will space of respecting others as agents of possible kindness and not misappropriating the equation. This means kindness is appreciated at such a high value of possibility for expression within yourself and all your life business so as not to take away the possibility of kindness that can show itself in another human being. In this paradigm, your kindness and my kindness become sacred.
It means respect; but a high level kind of one. A lot of people out there, though, confuse respect exclusively with matters of tone or the use of words or the conduct of having all their selected inconveniences followed upon indulgently without any empathy for another’s circumstance. This is not respect. Respect is most true and clear when you decide things conscientiously in whatever you put out into the world and in such a way that you not create any unnecessary possibilities of conflict or imposed heartache upon another because of your choices. It means that you take care to not create too much extra mess for someone else to then satisfy your needs and preferences.
It then means that your actions become the most efficient for others and that you care about the impact of your choices upon other lives. For me, this also most acutely includes our caring for voices that can’t speak for itself from baby to disability of any kind to the disenfranchised to the elderly and to every walk of animal and plant life while also being tolerant of everyone’s permission for space and growth. It’s the only way that every participant in life gets a fair chance of the best possible enjoyment beyond the challenges of our being beautifully human.
When kindness grows so does the muscle of empathy and so does the tolerance of being able to respect and to more peacefully adapt to another person’s point of view. It means you are flexible and can adjust to things. A kindness consciousness also has any indulgences that harm or hurt another as well as that great tendency in most humans to not change until you can see “how far can you get away with it” to be less evident in our human relations. It means that a true honourable field more greatly abounds.
The loveliest aspect about choosing to live in the kindness field though is that it offers you a greater abundance of clear discrimination through things. It of itself as a primary tool to conduct one’s day then becomes an automatic armour to get past challenges in life. This is what kindness offers you: a calm to better get through the inevitable messiness of life. What could be better or wiser?
Spiritual wealth at all times is clearly a matter of choice and so it follows that kindness is a muscle set of love and calm into things as best one can into all things. As a world practice, a kindness consciousness is the most abundant energy that most equalizes people no matter the fortune of hand.
At the movies, I constantly see people save seats with their castle of coats to a full house audience while other moviegoers looking for space are lost in the dark. I often see people watch other people, be they singles or twos or more, scrambling while seeing what they can get away with until they are “imposed upon” to do the right thing. In what ways possible can that situation be kinder to begin?
One sweet Florida day, I spotted an ocean bather who approached the water to smoke and who successively elected to discard his ashes and to butt out his smoke into the very ocean waters as he waded. My heart broke for the turtles and it sank for the beautiful birds. Perhaps he felt he was best honouring the sign that said “Keep our property clean”. Yet, the next day I saw him do the same thing and disclaim a possibility for a more broad thoughtfulness to other sun-worshippers, small children sand-playing and to mother turtles and to baby turtles nesting and birthing. In what ways could this person have been kinder to marine and bird life and fellow ocean waders as a purposeful and equally deserving whole? What could the person to you have done to be most kind?
Spiritual wealth, you see, is opening up your field and your lenses. It is enjoying being teachable and teaching others. It’s far away from who or what is wrong and right. At every moment of the day we have the opportunity to be kind or not. We are asked in thousands upon thousands of ways, some parts of the day more than others. We are all works in progress. And we all seek the same daily joy and the same endline no matter our age: to be valued and to be loved and to know that our lives matter. Kindness wealth is as much humbly accepting that you may not always have the right answers but that you will always be strong in your virtue of kindness to do the right thing. Looked at this way, kindness makes you become a more active agent of the greatest possibility for cohesive connections, gentler change, and a happier and more peaceful environment for everyone.
Once you focus on the wealth of applying kindness into every area of your life, your sense of richness and purposefulness exponentially grows. This is a guarantee. Little daunts you and what does becomes highly irrelevant in the big picture. Kindness enjoins you to the best parts in your heart and to the love you can feel in others; and at the same time, it separates you from comparative games that are completely inconsequential from you just living up to your own unique potential. Kindness gets you away from all that and has you have more compassion for others because you understand that kindness is the only action of wealth. As to other people’s actions, it invites you to let that go because your job is to be kind and not be privy to other people’s challenges and demons in life. Your only spiritual challenge need be: How can I get my needs and actions met and be kind in this situation to the best of my ability anyway?
Above the question of am I living up to my method of practice, whatever that is, what if the only focus out there in each one of us is to ask ourselves each morning, “How can I be kind today?” And what if we were to ask our heart each night, “In what ways have I been kind today and what could I have done in the day to have even been kinder?”
The satisfaction here is that your contribution matters to a work of love that counts on you and that without you is never completely done. Our kindness consciousness would thankfully enjoy and appreciate the loving “homework” we have to grow on. Were each of us to do our small share and take that small step in generating these two key daily questions, we as a family, on a micro level and at a macro level, will more efficiently gather in a great spiritual wealth that collectively becomes inviolable.
When we open our hearts into such a simple and yet profound question we open a wealth of possibility of kindness towards ourselves, to others, and to the beauty of the great nature that can’t speak for itself and that counts on us to do it right. And what if kindness wasn’t about being right, or even worrying about who is right or wrong, but was solely on just doing the right thing regardless—because it feels good.
Imagine. If we each did that, we would all feel spiritually wealthy all the time. Public wealth would not just skyrocket. So would a public health. Mindfulness would replace psychology halls and displace the courts. People would be finding ways to depend on less quick fixes be it in a pill or in the next best fix to happiness. That is because we would all be finding ways to keep the light warm within and to honour its helpful presence. We would all take joy knowing that the happiest quick fix to everything out there is when we can be most loving to others based on our balancing when we can lean on each other in kindness to one another but also be cooperatively resourceful and kindly independent as best we can. And my point is that if we did that, we would always be in the light. We would likely then also find the dark night as beautiful and holy as the illuminated day.
This active kindness practice then suggests that all those lists we come up with are completely meaningless next to the meaningfulness of being the “best” kind person I can be today. Whether someone else thinks you are trying hard enough or achieving enough doesn’t really matter in the kindness game of true wealth. Kindness is transformative and changes may not be quickly evident. But they are there. All that counts is your own motivation and drive and effort.
Imagine happening upon a sweet dog in the forest and next a dog that is a little fierce and imposing or with an unpleasant behaviour. Close your eyes for a moment and as you imagine, watch what occurs in your body. Which scenario opens your heart more? Notice what each is doing to your heart and in your body just imagining it. This is the power of kindness. Theo and I marvel at the healing energy carrying difference each day.
Yes, kindness heals in that it dispels every negative emotion in the book with a stronger page into freedom and resourcefulness. It’s a fine antidote of better health to any prescriptive when your heart is more joyful, accepting, quietly broad-minded, and calm. It’s the best gift you can ever give to yourself and to others.
The only rule in the world of spiritual accounting is to be kind when we fall short of not doing something as kindly as we had hoped and getting back on gear and practicing kindness still. When life is gone about kindly, there is very little extra that money can buy. Every day becomes a simple thankful blessing, and just connecting to that, helps the light always get in.
Truly kind people know that they can always learn to be kinder. At the end of the day, I believe, they as a kindness army more than make up for the people who don’t even try. And that’s why I never give up.
So what does it mean to be kind and to be better? Neither have a clear definition.
But there are some things we can be certain about in this kindness chain of uncertainty. One way to pierce to a better kindness is to be more truthful to ourselves about what kindness is not and to be a lot more truthful about what doesn’t feel good in our lives. When we give in peace, much of the pain in the world heals to a power of love no matter the outcome.
One reason we can often lose our way here is that most of us are not practiced in honouring a spiritual wealth as we go through our day and accomplishing our exciting milestones. We get lost in the valuing above anything else. It’s that empty nest feeling you have after the party is done. Or, it’s found in the impatience to get to the next great happening that pretends to let you know you are here. Or, it’s getting lost in the doing of something for the recognition or an opinion over the passion of being in flow to your personal joy. Or, it’s the focus on that big moment up the road over the little steps of a presence in learning that all go toward making it happen.
Here is the great key of riches: Spiritual wealth is taking stock of your determination to stay kind through things— and spiritual wealth is when you still feel loved and know your own love within and agree to stay open to love should all those outside markers and signposts become taken away.
True wealth is enjoying and appreciating the wonder of how one gets through things, no matter where life takes you, or what life brings you, and it is often most appraised by going about things with a discipline of kindness. In a kind world and in one where a person values kindness above anything else, material acquisition or offerings then magically transform into gifts of specialness rather than needs we must have. Challenges equally become easier to consider.
Can you look back at last year and become breathless to see these subtle yet huge milestones happening within? Count those. Forget about your money in this new counting skill. Then savor your spiritual wealth. The light stays in when you just don’t pass the accomplishments by. It’s when you stop to ask and appreciate how you got through them to get to where you are now‑— and the richness adds up all the more when you know you got through things kindly. That need be the highest joy in all our work.
All the struggles and obstacles you then encountered don’t have as much power. And as a human being, you will inevitably always be that much more happy and free.
Photography by Marina Mashaal