The question of my bread is a material question, my neighbor’s bread is a spiritual question. ~Nikolai Berdyaev
Nikolai Berdyaev was a Russian thinker and existentialist. He once said, “The question of my bread is a material question but the question of my neighbor’s bread is a spiritual question.” This is kindness in a nutshell. Compassion may just be limited to a feeling, it is a form of empathy, a sort of acceptance but kindness is compassion accompanied with a gesture of giving.
An unexpected gift at an unexpected time given to an unexpected (or even unsuspecting) person with no expectations in return is a random act of kindness, a kind gesture for someone who is not expecting it from you. You do it because your heart is open. Our heart has a peculiar property: it can operate in both states — open and closed. Open heart is naturally kind, compassionate and joyous. Closed heart blocks all positive emotions. It does not mean the person is certain to be negative or unsuccessful. On the contrary, a person with a closed heart can be quite headstrong, they may be successful in their careers and positive about their material endeavors. But, their heart remains closed towards understanding, appreciating and expressing love and pain (of others).
Until you can understand the pain of the other person, your heart remains closed for any kindness, it remains blindly focused on your own agenda. The saddest part of a closed heart is that you only realize it was closed when it opens. Those with closed heart, unable to perform random or planned acts of kindness, don’t even know their heart is closed like the frog in the well that doesn’t know a sea exists outside. It is when the door of your heart opens a bit, even a little bit, you experience a whole new world of peace and bliss. I once read somewhere, “On the gateway of my heart I wrote, ‘No thoroughfare.’ Love came in passing by and said, ‘I enter everywhere’.” And when love comes, it never comes alone — it brings a ton of virtues in tow. It is impossible to be kind without being loving; you be one and you become the other automatically.
There was a rich man once who mocked and scoffed the beggars. Anytime any beggar approached him for alms, he would chastise and cuss them saying that they had fit bodies, they were well-built, they were young and that they ought to work and not beg. This went on for a while until one day when God appeared and said, “Listen up, you. If you don’t have the heart to give, that’s fine but at least don’t condemn what I gave them.”
This is another way of being kind, it’s not the best, but it’s second best, that is, don’t be unkind. If you can’t or don’t want to give for any reason whatsoever, that may just be fine but at least don’t stop others or pollute your own mind and speech by being negative about it. A random act of kindness needn’t always be a material offering. Even a word of encouragement, a compliment, a helping-hand could be equally, if not more, profound.
When you regularly do random acts of kindness, one day, something amazing happens — Nature chooses you as the subject for its random act of kindness. Such kind acts are always happening in the Universe, at every moment, to millions out there. Even rains, breeze, snowfall, sunshine, flora and fauna, origination, sustenance — these are Cosmic acts of kindness.
A man used to give a beggar twenty dollars every month. He had been doing it for years. Once he did not pay the beggar and told him that he was sorry because he had to use the money to buy a bouquet for his wife.
“What?” the beggar said, “you spent my money on her?”
Just because we have something doesn’t mean it’s ours. No one is an owner in our universe, everyone is a medium, a custodian at the most. Whatever you share, it grows — this is the fundamental law of the universe. You share rage, anger grows in you. You share love, love grows in you. You share contempt, hatred grows in you. You share knowledge, wisdom grows in you. You share your time, peace grows in you. You share what you have, and you grow as a person.
Make random acts a regular affair and Nature will reciprocate in kind.
Himalayan mystic and best-selling author Om Swami has transformed thousands of lives sharing his insights, his experiments and experiences with anyone who is on the path of personal fulfilment, happiness and discovery. Today he spearheads a movement in the form of Black Lotus, a mobile app designed to raise the Kindfulness Quotient in the world through Kindness and Mindfulness.