“The more you nurture a feeling of kindness, the happier and calmer you will be.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Kindness transcends boundaries, cultures, and languages, touching hearts and fostering connections that bring out the best in humanity. From the smallest gestures to grand acts of compassion, kindness has the remarkable ability to create ripples of positivity that spread far and wide. As we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day, let’s delve into the significance of kindness, its impact on the world, and how a single act of benevolence can spark a wave of change.
Kindness transcends boundaries, cultures, and languages, touching hearts and fostering connections that bring out the best in humanity. From the smallest gestures to grand acts of compassion, kindness can create ripples of positivity that spread far and wide. As we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day, let’s delve into the significance of kindness, its impact on the world, and how a single act of benevolence can spark a wave of change.
Kindness and Buddhism
Kindness lies at the very heart of Buddhism, embodying the core teachings of compassion and interconnectedness. His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, eloquently captures this essence when he states, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
In Buddhism, kindness is not just a superficial action, but a profound state of being that stems from a genuine concern for the well-being of all sentient beings. The Dalai Lama’s words emphasize the transformative power of practicing kindness as a means to cultivate inner peace, create harmonious relationships, and contribute to the greater good.
In the Buddhist tradition, kindness is also a type of meditation practice, “Love and kindness meditation”, often referred to as “Metta” or “Maitri” meditation. Rooted in the teachings of compassion and interconnectedness, this meditation cultivates a deep sense of unconditional love and benevolence towards oneself and all living beings. Practitioners engage in a systematic approach of generating feelings of love and kindness, first directing these sentiments towards themselves and then gradually expanding the circle to encompass loved ones, acquaintances, and even those with whom they may have conflicts. The essence of this meditation lies in its ability to dissolve barriers and foster a boundless sense of connection, dissolving the boundaries that often separate us. Through love and kindness meditation, you can develop a compassionate heart and a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all existence, ultimately aligning your inner state with the core teachings of the Buddha.
The Science of Kindness
Scientifically speaking, acts of kindness trigger a cascade of positive effects on both the giver and the receiver. Studies have shown that engaging in acts of kindness leads to the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with social bonding and happiness. The “helper’s high” experienced by those who engage in kind acts is a testament to the biological reward system that underscores the inherent goodness of kindness.
Random Acts of Kindness Day
Random Acts of Kindness Day, observed on February 17th, is a celebration of the simple yet profound acts that have the potential to brighten someone’s day and make a lasting impact. This day serves as a reminder that kindness doesn’t need to be grandiose; even the smallest gestures can create meaningful connections and promote a culture of compassion.
How to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day
Here at Jamyang London Buddhist Centre, staff and volunteers aim to create space within our day-to-day activities to highlight when things are going well and are a cause for rejoicing. To celebrate ‘Random Acts of Kindness day’, we share a few handpicked stories from the Jamyang and Science & Wisdom LIVE teams.
We hope these can serve as simple, relatable stories to inspire and encourage more random acts of kindness, whenever the opportunities present themselves.
We have a neighbour, who is of Portugese descent, and who is not able to travel to her family in Portugal with Christmas/New Year. We decided to buy her some flowers with a card and went over to her a few hours before Christmas Eve to gift her this. She was very happy, and we got some home-made, sweet fritters in return, although the greatest gift was her felt happiness to be cared for by her direct neighbours.
Walking into a cafe a few days ago to have breakfast, there was a homeless person outside asking for money, whom I invited in for breakfast together! It was very nice to see his smile
The random acts of kindness that stick with me the most are usually quite simple, everyday occurrences you see, like when someone offers a seat on the bus or the train to someone who needs it more. I still remember a time some years ago when an elderly man eagerly gave his seat to another elderly person but then in his enthusiasm to help, he lost his balance and fell as the bus was going around a corner. Quite a few people rushed to check he was ok and get him back on his feet and then someone offered him their seat. It was a very clear reminder of how a simple act of kindess can have a ripple effect for those who are a part of it or witness it themselves.
A while ago, when it was freezing outside, I saw a beggar at our local supermarket, who was really cold and did not have much warm clothes on. He started a conversation, and the man shared his hardships with me. Although he seemed an alcoholic, I gave him some money anyway so he could buy food or drink, as it was the one thing he asked for after an offer to buy food. I then went home and returned to the man later that evening and gifted him my sleeping bag, so he could stay warm wherever he was begging those days.
One that comes to mind is most everyone in our team does covering jobs for those who are unwell or has an emergency. So everyone is rarely recognised and it is really random.
A friend who’s gone through a difficult year last year (losing her mum and one of her cats in a few months’ time) was distraught when she found that the newly bought dog bike-basket in which her dog liked to travel with her on her bike had been destroyed by random vandalism. The basket had cost her a lot of money for which she had carefully saved up over months (my friend lives on a very basic income), due to her inability to find work currently due to her autism. When she brought the basket back to the shop where she had bought it and showed the shop owner in tears that it had been broken in two, the owner was incredibly kind, took up some practical tools and, in the matter of hour, hammered/nailed/screwed the basket back together. Now my friend and her dog are happily using it again while biking through the city.