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Lions Roar : January 2019
WE OFTEN DEFINE KINDNESS as the expression of goodness toward all. In Buddhism, kindness is considered a boundless quality—it has no limits, so if we do happen to encounter limits, these are due to our egoistic fixa- tion, whereby we identify with the illusion of a fixed and unchanging self. My understanding of kindness is that it’s an expression of love, and when we love someone, we want that person to be happy. In addition to loving and being kind to others, we can also love and be kind to ourselves. In fact, so much of the kindness we offer others is a natural extension of the kind- ness we’ve first given ourselves. And yes, it is pos- sible to offer kindness to others even when we find it difficult to manifest it for ourselves. However, we will find when we don’t have kindness for ourselves, our ability to extend it to others is usually some- what limited. Kindness does not necessarily manifest sponta- neously. Unfortunately, just because we love some- one doesn’t mean that we treat them well. Indeed, for many of us, some of the deepest hurts we’ve experienced have been caused by the unskillfulness of our loved ones. Yet we can always put kindness into action with thoughtfulness, effort, and by practicing mindfully. Here are four ways to practice kindness for the people we love. 1. Communicate on a deeper level by asking your loved ones how they wish to be treated. Don’t assume that loving this person automati- cally gives you insight into what they need. True love helps us develop special sensitivities to the needs of others, but often our love is tainted with attachment, which tends to turn those we love into objects we think we own. If we begin mak- ing decisions on our loved ones’ behalf, they will likely feel robbed of a sense of agency. This is the opposite of kindness. 2. Empathizing is an important expression of kindness. We begin by empathizing with our- selves and developing a relationship to our own Be Kind to YOUR LOVED ONES Just because we love someone doesn’t mean we always treat them well—but we want to! ROD OWENS on how to be consistently kind to the people we love most. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 50