Spiritual Tools - Principle: Kindness

Listen to "Kindness"

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The greatest compliment I can pay anyone is to say they are kind.

Kindness may be a state of being rather than a principle. Whether a byproduct of practicing love and tolerance or a core value in its own right, it seems to me a point where all the spiritual paths converge. It deserves more than a cursory exploration.

I am kind when I emphasize in others our similarities. As humans we automatically share more in common than we have differences. “People are surprisingly similar at a genetic level. For example, any two people from anywhere on Earth are more similar than two chimps from the same troop.” (source). "The latest estimates are that people are around 99.5% the same at the DNA level." (source)

What is true at the biological level appears true at the spiritual. Every human experiences some type of pain, pleasure, happiness, frustration, sadness, loneliness, joy, sleep, hunger, thirst, passion… How long could the list extend? The quality, scope and depth of these experiences must differ to some extent between individuals and within an individual over a lifetime. But each of us shares a vast common bond – this human experience. We naturally hold different attitudes and opinions drawn from our unique perspectives but how different are these really on the grand scale? How different really from the consciousness experience of animals or even plants?

The fact you understand the meaning behind these words points to our shared intelligence; our unity. Centuries of spiritual teachers across cultures and continents claim to know this unity is more than just similar ways of thinking or similar patterns of autonomous neurons firing. Taoist, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, Sufi, and Christian - all hold as central some concept of Oneness.

Now, quantum reality theory suggests that consciousness may alter the observed universe at the smallest level. Quantum particles change in bizarre ways when measured. Experiments appear to eliminate the measuring device itself as the source of the interference. All that remains is the consciousness of the observer.

How could awareness alter the physical plane without being part of that plane? Is it possible my neurons are but prisms through which the One intelligence takes form for a cosmological instant? Is it possible we have found through physics the mechanism of our sense of spiritual connectedness – or God Consciousness?

The universe is connected instantaneously by some mechanism we do not now and may never truly understand. In some cases at least, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction locally AND some strange, immediate repercussions in seemingly unconnected space and time. Is this the physical mechanism for my overwhelming sense of connectedness, the conduit of coincidence?

When I am aware of this Unity of Consciousness, I experience what is but a glimpse of the extent of my connectedness with you. I am sure our sharing is beyond my understanding. We are all related as family or kin are related. We are as cells in the same body. This realization is the source of compassion, empathy, understanding, wonder, love and kindness.

Being Kind is considered to be one of the Seven Contrary Virtues (direct opposites of the seven deadly sins) and opposite to envy.

If I look for our differences, they seem to expand out of proportion blotting out the reality of our shared human experience. In the Garden of Eden, partaking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil took Adam and Eve out of the Presence of God. They perceived and focused on their differences from all creation. They were ashamed. They felt less than.

Conflicts of greed, envy or jealousy result from unresolved differences between individuals and groups who choose to overlook the vast amounts they share in kind. All diffferences involve inequalities. If I feel less than, then perhaps what you have will make me feel whole. It is appropriate that envy is considered the opposite of kindness.

Envy is a state of lacking and of weakness. Kindness is a position and a source of strength.

Envy involves desire. Desire is the source of all suffering. When I let desires drive my interactions, I tend to use other humans to help me attain the object of these desires – to help me get “there”. When done, their usefulness exhausted, the self has no reason to be kind. The addict can never be satiated by the thing it craves. All these efforts will never be enough because I seek, not the objects of my desires, but the absence of desire itself.

It is easier to be kind when I realize my completeness. Kindness comes from a position of wholeness. One translation of the Tao Te Ching states: “The universe is benevolent and giving; perfect in its design, I have all that I require.”

In truth, here and now is the only destination - I try to stay in a constant state of arrival. What I imagine I will be lacking in the future or past is not what I lack now. A full quality life is only attainable now and kindness is a reliable measure of Life Quality, not only for me, but for all my connections…my kind.

This is all well and good from an intellectual aspect but what does any of this have to do with the quality of our daily lives?

I cannot resist quoting in full this remarkable discussion of the practical side of kindness:

 “Random acts of kindness are a wonderful way to reach across time and space to touch the life of another being. Publicizing and raising awareness of the significance of human kindness undoubtedly makes the world a better place. At every step along the path of expanding awareness there is the opportunity to go deeper; to explore more of the potential of our divine humanness. So it is with kindness. Acts of kindness are really not difficult. An intention is formed, and you carry it out. It makes you feel good. Holding kindness and compassion in our hearts, and integrating them into the complexity and stresses of daily life, every day -- now there is a deep challenge!

Parents can learn to discipline kindly, remaining firm, yet doing so with love and warmth. Teachers can learn to remain patient and forgiving, no matter how frustrated they might feel with a particular student. Employees can choose to cooperate and remain positive about employers, rather than going into polarity. They can preserve their integrity, leaving the job if they must. Employers can honor the individuality and dignity of each staff member, placing the significance of the human over the material. Men and women can choose to focus on what is beautiful and special about the opposite sex, rather than battling for superiority. Children can learn to let everyone play, rather than setting up exclusive games. We can all begin to celebrate adolescence and help teens to feel proud of themselves, rather than raising our eyebrows in disgust. Teenagers can learn to be patient with and accepting of adults in spite of our limitations, instead of raising their eyebrows in disgust. Drivers can realize that there is enough road to share, and time to get there.

Allowing a spirit of kindness to permeate our collective lives would be a quantum leap, from an evolutionary standpoint. Eliminating meanness, pettiness, gossip, criticism, judgment, polarity, and blame would be a superb act of kindness. It is also a fundamental step along any spiritual path. Those negative qualities reflect a very dense, heavy energy, vested solidly in ego, and they block the light of the spirit. Random acts of kindness amidst the darker energies are certainly a positive start. We can do more. Much more. We can resolve to be kinder, gentler beings. All day, every day. We can treat those closest to us with the same respect and politeness that we reserve for friends and colleagues. We can refuse to litter the lives of others with negative energy. If we do this, we will be doing our part to create a world in which kindness is never a random act, but rather a way of life.” ...Gwen Randall-Young

Gwen Randall-Young is a psychotherapist who bridges the worlds of psychology and spirituality, and the author of several books and audio tapes. (source)



  1. “Kindness is the act or the state of being kind and marked by charitable behavior, marked by mild disposition, pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others. It is a recognized value in many cultures and religions.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kindness
  2. “Of a friendly, generous or warmhearted nature; Showing sympathy or understanding; Charitable; Humane, considerate; Forbearing, tolerant.” - The American Heritage Dictionary
  3. Kind:
    1. a category of things distinguished by some common characteristic or quality
    2. having or showing a tender and considerate and helpful nature; used especially of persons and their behavior ..."kind words showing understanding and sympathy";
    3. tolerant and forgiving under provocation
  4. Etymology:
    1. from Old English cynd(e) earlier gecynde "natural, native, innate," originally "with the feeling of relatives for each other”. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=kind
    2. birth, descent; nature; manner; race, kin; class, genus, species. (T. F. HOAD. "kind." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 29 Nov. 2009 .)
Please send a life story example I can include here.