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Lions Roar : January 2019
NOLIWE ALEXANDER is a Vipassana teacher at Spirit Rock, the East Bay Meditation Center, and other practice groups around the Bay Area. SEIHO MUDO MORRIS is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk in residence at Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji in Seattle. PHOTOCURTESYOFTHEAUTHORPHOTOBYSTACYMILLER “Do you remember the Golden Rule?” I took a deep breath and answered with awareness and gratitude. In that moment, I decided to be kindness. What is kindness? It is cultivated. You can’t just pull it off the shelf. It comes over time. My wife, Rosetta, inherently knows when I’m suffering and shows up, unasked, extending tenderness and understanding. That is kindness. My dear friend Agu manifests as a sage and elder sister friend, offering encouragement in unexpected ways, in unexpected times. That is kindness. My beloved benefactor, teacher, and friend Larry inspires me to follow my heart along the path to awakening. That is kindness. I realize there is boundless kindness dwelling within me and all around me. It’s an unconditional kindness that doesn’t expect anything in return. It is true kindness. Tender Heroes BY SEIHO MUDO MORRIS IN MY DAY-TO-DAY TRAVELS AND ENCOUNTERS, I often invite people to tell me about the personal victories close to their heart. It’s a practice of seeing beyond the surface of appearance and listening into the depths. Recently, while headed to the airport, I extended this invitation to the person driving me. He responded by saying, “My family.” As it turned out, he and his wife are currently raising nine—yes, nine—grandchildren because his daughter and son have succumbed to the current drug epidemic. The driver’s approach to this very human tragedy is kindness and a com- bination of tenderness and fierce heroism. As I listened, he transformed into a bodhisattva. He shared that he and his wife work multiple jobs. He said, “I don’t know if people can imagine going to court, getting custody of all the kids, waking them every day, clothing them, feeding them, sup- porting them... day in and day out. My daughter doesn’t really have a place to live. She’s on methadone. She’s lost. Sometimes she comes to our house, needing a place that’s safe. It’s challenging. The problems have gone on for so long. It’s left us hope sick.” I asked him, “How do you keep going?” “For me there’s no sacrifice,” he gently replied. “My wife and I want what’s best for these children. They need a stable home, a chance. If we didn’t make ourselves available, things could be really bad for them.” In his voice, there was no self-congratulation, no shaming of his chil- dren, no complaining, no anger. There was only kindness, flowing natu- rally, despite the adversity. This person I was traveling with, this ferryman who was helping to carry nine children on a raft of kindness, reminded me of the vast kindness frequently attributed to the Buddha. To be well—phys- ically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. To be kind and at ease, not just for our self, but for everyone we encounter, to the best of our ability. Such is the opportunity of human beings. ♦ LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 61