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Material or physical achievement can be thrilling.
Pick a goal. Work hard. Fail. Learn. Get back up. Try again. Win.
It's a great feeling when we achieve like this, and highly culturally reinforced.
The thing is: we are limited by what we can do physically. We are limited by the material world and its inescapable cycle of birth — growth — decay —
Effort or "doing" is an exhaustible resource because it's physical in nature. We will run out of it as we grow older. And, as we grow old, we might even discover a void about what to do, when we find we can't do what we once did.
My goodness, how we define ourselves by what we do!
We might also fill with regret for being so focused on our personal achievements, while other, potentially more meaningful opportunities passed us by. Even now, the soul cries out for something more.
What is kindness?
It's freely giving of yourself solely for the benefit of others.
This giving of yourself, though it might involve physical action is, essentially, a non-doing state of being. It's energetic in nature.
Being kind is an inexhaustible resource. It operates outside of time and outside of the birth — death cycle. If anything, it is a resource that can grow stronger as we grow older, though our bodies may start to fail.
What is the result of kindness?
A thrill beyond personal achievement. Putting a smile on another's face. Helping somebody to grow. Being there in a time of need.
This is when we feel most alive, happy, and fulfilled. We become energized even though we haven't "done" anything because no personal effort is required to be kind.
Well, some effort is required. We have to push past our resistance to being kind in the first place.
This means letting go of our points to prove. Sanding out the chip on our shoulders, and absolving the recipients of our personal vendettas.
My goodness, how our lives can be defined by our points to prove!
Kindness requires a type of surrender. A surrendering of the need to invest in a personal identity and, instead, a learning of how to be an empty vessel or facilitator.
This means learning to become a medium for something greater than our personalities — our egos — to flow through.
As we reduce and empty ourselves like this, we find we become more expansive. Happiness becomes a constant companion. Peace as well.
Good fortune and auspiciousness are surely to increase.
We discover a flowing, bottomless river of kindness.
Happy journey my friends and a good week ahead. Be sure, also, to sign up for the Daily Remindr if you like what you read here.
Self-Inquiry (Atma Vichara)
Some questions to consider, as we reflect on our capacity for kindness. Download a PDF copy of this article here, which includes space to answer these.
1. On a scale of 1-10, how would I rank my general kindness quotient?
2. What were some missed opportunities to be kind from this past week?
3. What stopped me from following through on those opportunities? Be as specific as possible.
4. What am I trying to prove? What outcome(s) am I pushing for?
5. How am I hurting myself? Just consider the question.
6. How am I hurting others? Again, just consider this no matter how justified you might feel.
7. What are 3-5 ways I could be more kind this week?
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"Some people think that the physical things
Define what's within
And I've been there before
But that life's a bore." - Alicia Keyes