By Tommy Harrison
Looking closely at an old riverbed rock, you notice how smooth it is after experiencing the flow of water over its jagged edges over eons of time. What starts out as a rough and jagged form slowly loses its edges over time. Once smoothed, riverbed rocks experience minimal friction with the flow of water. Kindness is a similar force that influences our well-being over time.
The third noble truth tells us that our well-being is possible. We are all encouraged to look closer at our suffering – our own jaggedness – in some form or fashion. When we do this, we can get stuck on narratives and remain entrapped with the emotional energies associated with our attachments. Kindness helps guide us through these moments and provides support as we practice letting go. Just like a riverbed rock sees the flow of water over time smooth out its rough edges, our suffering benefits from a flow of kindness over time.
Let’s explore kindness a little deeper. Dictionary.com defines kindness as the following under its Thesaurus tab:
Kindness – noun. Definition: compassion, generosity
Synonyms include: affection, altruism, amiability, beneficence, benevolence, charity, clemency, consideration, cordiality, courtesy, decency, delicacy, fellow feeling, forbearance, gentleness, good intention, good will, goodness, grace, graciousness, heart, helpfulness, hospitality, humanity, kindliness, magnanimity, mildness, patience, philanthropy, serviceability, solicitousness, solicitude, sweetness, sympathy, tact, tenderness, thoughtfulness, tolerance, understanding, unselfishness
Kindness as a noun leaves much to be appreciated. What if we thought about kindness as a verb–as action? What if we made up a new word–“kinding?” Can we think of “kinding” ways that benefit our well-being, especially with suffering?
“Kinding” with our moment to moment experiences allows us to be gentler, more sympathetic, more benevolent, charitable, generous, forgiving, tender, thoughtful, more selfless, more understanding, and so on. Our edges fall away – we become more available to the spaciousness of life. We learn to appreciate letting go of our suffering as a chance to alleviate our suffering. Well-being is possible. Explore these possibilities in your terms.
No matter where we may be in our practice, there is always more room for more kindness. “Kinding” allows us to be with our suffering and work its edges over time. Learning to approach experiences in kind ways supports the possibilities of seeing clearer, deepening our understanding, learning to accept whatever is occurring, and releasing it. Our lives are enriched in the process. Over time and with practice, time and kindness smooth us out. Once smoothed, we can experience life with minimal suffering. Kind of like a riverbed rock.