on multiplying goodness

I heard it said that goodness multiplies in the presence of kindness, and it rang true for me. If we operate from a paradigm of unkindness, what, then, does that bring us?

Since we live in a free will universe, it is ours to decide to be kind or unkind and to deal with the fruits of that decision–mindful that not deciding is itself a decision. Looking back, having operated from (and, yeah, continuing to catch myself reflexively react with) unkindness has brought suffering to me and others. It’s a case of short-term gain, long-term loss. So if we can spin a positive result of acting unkindly, maybe we can say it’s crafting the antidote from the venom and being a bit wiser for the wear.

Having purified at least some of the destructive attachments underlying my own unkind tendencies has been without a doubt uplifting, enlightening, and heartening. I feel better about myself, I live with less anxiety and stress, and correspondingly there has been a resolution of even long-standing dramas in my interpersonal relationships.

Unkindness: isn’t it composed of pride, anger, impatience, fear and their ilk? Isn’t it, as Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “nectar in the beginning, but poison in the end“? How can the vicious cycles of suffering ever cease in our lives if we continue to operate from such a paradigm unchecked by our higher discerning faculty?

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. To identify the weak link, the chain must be examined thoroughly and tested against the right standard. Identifying the weak link, repairs can be made which gives a chain we can use confidently. To continue using a chain with a weak link is like carrying eggs in a basket with a frayed bottom–sooner or later we are going to experience a negative, perhaps even disastrous, consequence.

Similarly, it is of great benefit to invest time and energy to examine our own thoughts, words, and actions on a daily basis and hold them against the standard of those timeless, universal, noble values of which the great spiritual traditions speak. Deep within, we know right from wrong. Conscience–perhaps a still, small voice at first–is never that far away if we are willing to turn our attention inward and listen. Unwilling to examine our own minds to identify the weak links of unkindness and related destructive attitudes, we create conditions that at the very least prevent goodness from multiplying in our lives. Extended further out, we directly poison our own systems, we see poison “out there”, we attract poisonous circumstances to ourselves. How can disaster not follow from this?

Suffering which has not yet come can be avoided.

Yoga Sutras 2.16

And furthermore, how can goodness ever multiply in the presence of unkindness? Isn’t this like putting a tomato plant in a dark basement? No good fruit could come from it.

Cultivation of the constructive attitude of kindness is important. Equally important is identifying where we cherish the thesis of unkindness. Examining this cherishing, we recognize the harm it brings. Recognizing the harm brought about by it, we purify it like ore to the furnace. Purifying our attachment to the paradigm of unkindness is marathon-type work, not for those who just train for sprints. What we have to do initially is come face to face with the habit, and learn to endure and even embrace the unpleasant yet temporary experience of dealing with our conscience.

Action items:

** open up to the possibility that in at least some of your interactions you have operated from a place of unkindness, and perhaps by doing so you have contributed to your own and to others’ unhappiness

** set aside time throughout the day to review your thoughts, words, actions, and interpersonal interactions. With the attitude of sincerely wanting to find your weak links, examine yourself for where you have operated from a thesis of unkindness

** consider that putting others down with unkind thoughts, words, and acts is advantageous mainly to an ego that suffers from low self-esteem. If that self-level is found, and loved, and allowed to grow out of its error, the thesis of unkindness becomes simply unnecessary. We immediately recognize it as harmful and incompatible with true happiness.

** consider that as we do to others, so we do to ourselves. If you operate from unkindness toward another, what does that say about how you relate to yourself? It is all a lifestyle option. If you conclude that to continue on in a certain direction brings sorrow, there is always the option to change.

** the Pathwork Lectures discuss how even deep negativity has as its core an original divinely perfect quality that became distorted. Consider how this might be related to the concept of a shepherd searching a lost sheep referred to in various spiritual traditions

** examine the type of relationships you’ve attracted. Where do you find yourself surrounded by others who gossip, talk shit about others behind their back, or otherwise thrive on negativity? Since like attracts like, consider that there is something in you which is the root of the problem.

** consider our human tendency to radiate kindness toward those whom we like and radiate unkindness toward those whom we do not like. Consider the wisdom of the sun, whose light shines equally on saint and sinner. Consider the Buddhist concept of upeksha, or equanimity. Consider what Christ is referring to in Luke 6:32-36

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