Genuine kindness is not easy. When you want to do something kind, there are often many
challenges in the way. Maybe your culture does not think you (as a woman, or as a nun, or
as a child) should be allowed to act, and so you become shy.
Or maybe you are too scared to look at the wounded animal on the street who is screaming because its leg was chopped off by a motorbike, so you close your eyes and walk away. So being kind really means we must be developing our courage all the time. And much like learning a new sport, we must train in courage like we are developing our muscles.
As nuns from the Drukpa Order of Himalayan Buddhism, we are training in courage all the
time. Of course, we pray and meditate every day starting at 3 am, following our duties as
Buddhist nuns. But we also train in Kung Fu to build confidence and physical strength so
that we may take our practice of kindness to the outside world. Now, we are able to do many humanitarian activities, from teaching young girls self-defense to quickly bringing supplies and tents to villages after natural disasters. Most recently, we have been distributing food and masks to thousands of people in Nepal who are affected by the pandemic.
Serving regions of India and Nepal, we have now met so many who are suffering. We have
seen many problems out there. For example, many young girls do not have access to
school, and many elderly people do not have medicine or even running water. We have
witnessed many victims of human trafficking in the Himalayas, and also of the “caste”
system where people are discriminated against for reasons they cannot change. There is
not a single place we have been where there was not suffering, and so the biggest lesson we have learned is that we need to bring even more kindness. We need to grow our courage all the time.
Kindness requires us to listen to others, to connect with others, to feel for others, to see
their pain, to show love, to be patient, and to be strong. It requires us to feel vulnerable
enough to connect with others. Kindness requires the strength to leave our comfort zone in
order to help others without conditions or judgment. And it requires us to break free of how
others view us, so that we may act freely for the sake of helping others.
Kindness is empowerment
Many of us come from mountain regions that are very remote. We grew up in villages where we felt very isolated from others. So during those times when we cried for help, it did not always come. From this, we learned that we must be our own heroes. What we mean is that actually, we are all capable of great things. We all have it within us and therefore, every single one of us has a role to play. We can all do something no matter who we are, where we are and what we have. Even from the youngest, most shy nuns among us, we have discovered this power within ourselves through our practices of kindness, and we believe all of us have this special treasure inside to discover.
Kindness is the cure
The world faces such big problems, from this current global pandemic, to gender inequality,
to war, to climate change. Sometimes it feels hopeless, doesn’t it? How can one person fight against such big problems? But the truth is, kindness gives unimaginable power. Kindness – almost like a virus –is contagious. It is a way of viewing the world that spreads into the hearts of others with each act. Remember how quickly the coronavirus spread from one single person to countless people in every country… This is how quickly kindness can spread from one heart to the hearts of millions all over the world, building exponentially. All it takes is touching another being’s heart with a feeling of loving-kindness. This feeling moves through our bodies, and as it energizes us, it will inspire others to do the same. One by one, we will activate the hearts of billions who share the powerful feeling of gratitude and love.
Imagine the power
So this real, lasting change in the world begins with just one small step forward towards
kindness. If we all ate one more vegetarian meal a day, used a little less plastic, listened
more than we speak, showed a little bit more kindness to each other, the impact would be
huge over time… and it would gain momentum of its own. It would be unstoppable.
We invite all people to join us in this challenge to develop our courage to be kind. We pledge to continue spreading kindness as much as we can. We promise to make kindness our top priority especially when it’s difficult. We promise to keep trying our best, even when others criticize or judge us harshly. We promise to continue the self-defense workshops, to keep cleaning our waterways and streets even when people tell us climate change is not real.
Will you join us in your own ways?
(Picture Courtesy: Live to Love International)