I have recently been contemplating the importance of kindness. It was initiated by watching a film called Lucy, where a woman gains access to the full use of her brain, but as her brain usage developed she lost all sense of kindness (and instead just killed lots of people). This film was not about spiritual or personal development particularly, but it started a thought process for me. It started me wondering what the point of personal/spiritual development is, without it really being about developing an ability for kindness both to ourselves and others? It sometimes feels that there is such a focus on “me” becoming “enlightened” that we become completely self absorbed and start to loose this quality of kindness rather than develop it.
I feel that it has become increasingly common to deny our own feelings and the validity of others as ‘just a story’ and thus not spiritual. So instead of admitting that we are struggling, we talk of ‘it all being perfect and in alignment’. Or make everything someone else’s ‘stuff’ rather than looking deeply inside ourselves and being honest that it is our own as much as anyone else’s. For me authenticity is one of the most important qualities we can have. I really do want to hear if someone is feeling rubbish, and that then not to be subtly denied, keeping up the spiritual appearances of non-attachment. Its a fine line between non-attachment and spiritual bypassing. But when we slip over to spiritual bypassing, it seems to me, that kindness to ourselves and others is lost entirely.
I feel that, as we connect more deeply to ourselves and truly understand what makes us tick, it is possible for our energy to be less absorbed in our own needs, thoughts and dramas and instead to be more available to really be present to all beings with non judgemental compassion, kindness and respect. I am not saying this is an easy feat, but for me all these “spiritual practices” and self enquiry, cannot solely be about “knowing ourselves” as I honestly do not see the point if this “knowing ourselves” is left at just that. Maybe we will be apparently “free” but without the quality of kindness this just seems the ultimate separation rather than the unity that is so often talked about.
In the work that I do with the Naked Voice we talk often about the Witness, the Loyal Friend and the Singer. I love this triad, as it seems to me that the three encompass all of us; the part that is truly unattached, the part that is utterly present, kind and truly there in service to ourselves or others and the part of us that expresses ourselves authentically and honestly. Often it seems ‘spirituality’ particularly in the form of the recent expanding ‘non-dual’ scene focuses purely on the witness. I do feel that it is really important to deepen our connection to this part of ourselves as it really does support our ongoing development and relationship to the world and ourselves, so it is definitely in service to explore this deeply. But what seems to often happen is that the witness becomes so important the other two qualities are considered lesser or not really the ‘truth’. I feel strongly that this is not true and does not serve us. To develop the loyal friend and to honour the singer really bring a fullness to our lives, and a presence that otherwise would not be experienced.
So for me, developing kindness inside myself and towards others is increasingly the primary intention of my spiritual and personal development, the rest, I feel, is up to grace.