Kindness & Trust: “So many gods, so many creeds, so many paths … while just the act of being kind is all the world needs.” ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Kindness & Trust: “… Stillness is the teacher. Presence is the lesson. Trust in the process that brought you here and the promise of awakening it holds …” ~ Zach Beach
Kindness & Trust … two “seed” qualities when cultivated consciously – by “watering (=nourishing)” with attention – can blossom into peace that is no longer elusive but is readily infused in the “here” …
The world is threatened with disasters: climate, surging covid variants, democracies in danger of collapse, and more … and one of the most alarming matter is the growing divisiveness and distrust (via feeding of disinformation) amongst common folks – leading to “grassroots strife.” In such a world, is it even possible to talk about, let alone encourage, kindness & trust without being dismissed as unrealistic or idealistic?
As we reflected on the past year and contemplated what to begin this new 2022 year with, the reality of the disasters (whether looming or already here) could not be ignored but nor could the inherent wisdom within! Two “themes” remained persistently at the fore : acknowledge reality but also highlight the ever present “light within” … and …
Of course, the Universe always steps in to help 🙂 …
Turns out Sufi Master Elias Amidon wrote a post (Kindly Bent To Ease Us) for the New Year focusing on exactly this topic of acknowledging the reality of disasters but also pointing to the inherent kindness within us all.
In addition to Elias’ post, Yoga continued to percolate … primarily because it is an active form of “going within” and especially the deepening that comes at the end of a yoga session with savasana – which we’ve briefly touched upon in an earlier post Stillness & Savasana.
Zach Beach – author of 108 Savasana Poems (full attribution below) says savasana is “… an experience that goes beyond words and thoughts – a transformative feeling of wholeness, connection, and love …” …
So, we welcome this new 2022 year … by encouraging kindness & trust … with a savasana poem titled Trust from Zach plus Elias Amidon’s post with a hopeful – and realistic – message for the New Year! …
Kindness & Trust: “… I say that once you find clarity of soul, you will trust every other soul …” ~ Rudolfo Anaya
Trust can be deepened during savasana especially trusting That which is within … getting in touch with this trust, cultivating it, fully embracing it … is one of the keys to accepting – and ultimately realizing – our True Nature. Savasana lends itself to such embracing : as Zach says:“… Savasana is not a state of doing, it is a state of being. It is something you feel, and in doing nothing, everything gets done …” …
in the deeper you
that is slowly emerging
from winter’s hibernation.
in the winds of change
carrying your wings forward
and the infinite joy
laying just beyond each feather.
that God made your birthday suit
a gown for life’s great ball,
squeezing light into every fold,
stitch, and sequin.
that lasting happiness goes beyond
and is found in the deep work
in the path
unfolding before you,
even if the destination
is not clear.
in the release of your struggle,
in the calling of your soul,
that today is a new beginning,
this moment, an apple,
ripe for the picking,
and the world
with outstretched arms
is beckoning you forward.
Kindness & Trust: Kindly Bent To Ease Us
Here we are, wishing each other Happy New Year while there’s a heavy cloud of foreboding in the air. Greta Thunberg is angry and we know why. Children are walking in the streets holding signs, “You’re stealing our future from us!” Massive corporations and the rich are draining the wealth of communities. The commons — the air, the soil, the forests, and oceans — are being despoiled for private gain. Disinformation and distrust are fragmenting nations. The growth economy has cancer but won’t admit it. The sixth mass extinction of species is happening on our watch. Happy New Year!
I frequently hear people say they think humans are an evolutionary mistake, a blight on the planet, a dead end. We’re coming to accept the Hobbesian view that humans are fundamentally selfish and competitive, and that there’s just a veneer of civilization holding back our greedy, self-centered behaviors. It seems we’re losing hope that we’re capable of coming together, or that we have the collective will to clean up the mess we’re making.
The trouble with this view is that it ignores the obvious. We humans, in our everyday interactions, are most often kind and cooperative, not selfish or mean. Just think of the people you encounter every day, some known and some unknown — are they not trying to do their best to be kind and helpful? The lady at the post office with whom you make little jokes, the rough-looking young guy holding the door for you at the hardware store, the old friend who you haven’t heard from in years, writing to ask how you’re doing. I’ve been all over the world and the great majority of people I’ve encountered have been kind and well-meaning, or at least wanted to be.
It’s that ground of kindness that I’m pointing to here, for I believe that recognizing it will help give us the strength and courage we’ll need in the times to come. When Kurt Vonnegut asked his 20-year-old son, “What is the purpose of life?” his son answered,“To help each other get through it, whatever it is.”
I don’t believe there are many people who want the earth’s diversity of species to be destroyed, or who want our children’s future endangered. Our common desire for well-being runs deep – it’s a source of good will and creativity we can trust as we contend with the magnitude of challenges ahead. Cynicism won’t help us.
Yes, there’s evidence of human selfishness and divisiveness everywhere, that’s true. But I believe there’s even more evidence of human kindness, solidarity, creativity, and resilience, of people caring and reaching out to help others in both everyday simple ways, as well as in the midst of disasters.
I was once in a subway car clattering underground from 125th Street to 59th Street in New York City, a long run between stations. It was the end of the day — everybody had that tired subway look, gazing away from each other. Suddenly the train went black and coasted to a stop in complete darkness. There had been a major electrical blackout that covered the whole region, though none of us knew it. We waited in the darkness, making nervous small-talk. Eventually a conductor came through and told us to climb out of the train and walk along the dim tunnel for nearly a mile to the nearest exit. It wasn’t easy going, following a few winking flashlights in the dark, but everyone helped each other, held each other’s hands, lifted up the ones who tripped — all of us complete strangers taking care of each other as if it was the most natural thing to do.
In his recent book, Humankind — A Hopeful History, the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman tells the story of the Nazi strategy behind the London blitz. Their plan assumed that by bombing civilian population centers, social chaos would erupt, people would act like brutes, and the norms of civil society along with English morale would evaporate. But it didn’t happen. After 80,000 bombs were dropped, the English responded with courage, humor, and caring toward each other. “Crisis brought out not the worst, but the best in people,” Bregman writes. Later in the war, when Churchill used the same strategy of bombing civilian centers in Germany, the German people reacted in the same way — not with chaos, but with mutual help and fortitude.
Bregman’s book contains many stories like this, stories that reveal how our innate tendency toward kindness and trying to do our best to make things better is a tendency that’s hard-wired into us. This is not to ignore the human capacity for violence, meanness, and abuse — that too is obvious, and has its own causes rooted in fear and ignorance. But if we believe the story that people are basically untrustworthy and uncompassionate, I think we’ll have lost perhaps the greatest source of strength available to us as we face the crises that are here, and the worse ones to come. In Anne Frank’s famous words:
“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
I don’t believe this goodness in the human heart is wishful thinking. Nor do I believe that “goodness” is an anomaly appearing here and there in an otherwise uncaring universe. Our altruistic tendencies, our predilections for kindness and cooperation, arise from the very nature of how this living universe works. We are kind because the whole “interdependent co-arising” of the phenomenal world is kind.
There’s an old Tibetan text by Longchenpa with the evocative title, Kindly Bent to Ease Us, that describes how the entire magic show of phenomena is luminous with compassion and generosity. And whether we call it “goodness of heart” or kindness, compassion, love, or interdependent co-arising, its evidence is everywhere.
When I take a deep breath, the anonymous air enters my body and gives what my body needs. Is that not friendly of it? My hands know how to move to make a cup of tea for me. How kind that knowledge is! My legs stand me up and I don’t know how they do it! All the trillions of cells in my body do their jobs in quiet friendship, cooperating. Even the cells that don’t seem to, the ones that hurt — like the pains in my lower back and my uneven heartbeat — are friendly in their fashion, telling me to take care, you’re not as young as you were, take it easy. At dawn each day we watch how light comes to the world so generously, and then evening comes in its merciful way to give us rest. Indigenous tribes have called the natural world “the giving place.” It is kindly bent to ease us.
When we recognize how intrinsic kindness is to the nature of things and to our own deepest nature, we can take heart. Yes, our forebodings are real, there are hard times coming and we have much good work to do, but we can be sure we have help. There are enormous currents of kindness and benevolence carrying us along, around us and within us. Our prayers and deepest wishes for each other are evidence of this, like every time we say:
Happy New Year!
~ Elias Amidon
As we start this new year, let us honor “kindness & trust” by being kind to those in extreme need … so they, in turn, can trust the universe and pay the kindness forward … and to that end we highlight two “hubs” of giving:
1) Direct Relief, which is “… a humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries …”
2) Go Fund Me : Here’s their very comprehensive map for Fundraising for Coronavirus Relief: How You Can Help the Fight.
— — — —
We are all facing financial challenges but IF your situation allows you to donate and help then please do so …
Elias’ writes a monthly Notes from the Open Path which are short contemplations on an approach to living wholeheartedly and in clear awareness (aspects of his Open Path teachings) … visit his website for more of his work: The Open Path – The Sufi Way.
The entire text of Kindly Bent To Ease Us above is authored by Elias and is excerpted from his January 2022 monthly email Notes from the Open Path (also available on his website). He has graciously given us permission to freely share these notes with our readers.
Happy New Year!
May the year bring ever deepening peace and contentment in every regard … and …
May you remain safe and healthy as you continue navigating the “covid variants” norm.