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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 57 actually be causing harm—that we could be enabling someone to suffer through our intentions to be kind. for instance, in the case of dealing with a friend or family member who is addicted to drugs, a strong boundary needs to be set. While lending money to a friend is usually a generous and kind act, with the addict it could cause more harm than good. Most of us face this dilemma on some level or an- other on a regular basis, such as when we’re asked for money on the street by someone who seems to be homeless and is obviously intoxicated. is giving in a way that may lead to further addiction and suffering really an act of kindness? in some cases, the kindest thing we can do is to say no in a kind way. sometimes kindness means tell- ing someone something, some truth, they may not like hearing. at times kindness may even hurt. Kindness doesn’t have the intention of causing pain, but in some situations it is unavoidable. some of the kindest things i have ever done for myself have been the most difficult and painful experiences of my life. When i first started meditation, i found the retreats to be excruciatingly boring and my body was in agony much of the time. Looking back, tak- ing up meditation was the kindest thing i have ever done for both myself and others. What at the time truly sucked, eventually led to a radical change in my heart and mind. and the positive changes in my life have allowed me to inspire and encourage thousands of others to take the hard and transformative path of meditation retreats. The point is that kindness comes in many different forms. it is situational: there is no way of saying that generosity is always kind, or that causing pain is always unkind. if you wish to respond with kindness in all situations in your life, it is important to have a daily and disciplined meditation practice that includes the heart–mind trainings of metta. it can start with a few minutes a day of offering kind and forgiving phrases to yourself and others. eventually the practice will need to be incorporated into all aspects of your life. Walking down the street, you can say, “May all beings be at ease.” driving down the freeway, you can say, “May all beings be met with forgive- ness.” and sitting at work, you can say, “May all beings be happy, peaceful, and free.” The wisdom and compassion that is devel- oped with the practice of metta offers us access to spontaneous, appropriate response-ability. it will not always look the same, it may not always feel good, but kindness will become the filter through which we sift our responses to every situation. With this increased ability to respond skillfully to each situation in our lives, the world will become a safer and safer place. ♦ PhoToByLuCysWaLes