Kindness is more than an act of care and support. It’s more than a pleasantry or nice offering. Kindness is a way of living. A way of responding to and engaging with the world around us. If our sole practice was one of cultivating kindness it would contain all other important and beneficial teachings within it. The diligent practice of kindness has more than enough conditions to transform suffering and establish us happily and joyfully in the present moment.
I was reminded about the importance of kindness last week when helping a student of mine. I work part-time as a teacher’s aid in a local middle school. Primarily I work with students who need one-on-one help with reading and writing skills, and comprehension. Oftentimes the students I work with are very hard on themselves. They consider themselves stupid because they are not at the same academic level as their peers. Their feelings of inadequacy and self-judement in comparison to their classmates often shows up as frustration, behavior issues, social discomfort, and oftentimes an aversion to receiving the help they need. Their feelings of frustration make perfect sense to me so it’s relatively easy to not take it personally when a student shuts down or acts out when I’m simply trying to help them. Still, it can be stressful at times to be confronted with the difficult situation of a student who desperately needs help but refuses it and is angrily pleading with you to leave them alone.