“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” ~Albert Einstein
One of the key ways to bring about greater harmony and peace in our lives is through understanding—looking at a situation and taking the time to put ourselves into the minds and hearts of others.
And the key to understanding begins with the seed of compassion. Sounds so simple, right? So why don’t we do it?
As people living in the west, we can sometimes be in too much of a rush to be kind—particularly when we’re dealing with deadlines and pressures.
Can you think of a time when you brushed passed a certain situation and later regretted it? Feeling afterward that somehow you should have lent a helping hand, no matter how big or how small?
In Northern India I am very fortunate to have what I call my Tibetan family within a monastery there. The monks have welcomed me into their world, and as they go about their daily business, I’m right there with them spending time.
The benefits of this unique and special opportunity range from attending wonderful sacred events to sitting watching TV together as they serve me momos (dumplings).
One night, while relaxing with the monks after a nice meal, I received a late call and learned that my cat back home in London was sick.
The monks stopped what they were doing—one was even dragged back out of bed—and did an impromptu prayer session for my furry friend without a second thought.
There they were, five of them chanting away. It blew my mind, because it demonstrated to me that they understood my fears and concerns and held my cat’s health in great importance.
But I can go another level up from that. In the room where we watched TV, I discovered after much jumping up and down that there was a resident mouse that liked to come out and say hello.
My instant conditioned thought was that there would soon be more mice, so we needed to deal with this.
I asked the monks if they were not worried about this, and they simply shrugged.
In the next instant one of the monks (who didn't understand English, and therefore hadn't registered my question) broke off a piece of his biscuit and threw it to the mouse.
I gathered that the lack of concern for further mice immigration was a group consensus!
That was such an incredible thing to witness: authentic and unbiased compassion in action; allowing every living thing, no matter how big or small, to go about their business, and helping them along the way, even if it had the potential to disrupt us in the future.
Two weeks later my predictions came true. One mouse had become two, and when I saw it, I said to the monks, “Look, I told you!”
There was another incredible response. My friend Lama Jayam said that he had discovered the new baby mouse when it had fallen into the bin. He looked at me with his shiny happy eyes and told me that he had taken the mouse out and was petting it. To his surprise, the mouse was not afraid.
I couldn’t help thinking to myself that if I were that mouse, I wouldn't be afraid of him either!
If we all had such instinctive and consistent compassion and kindness within us what would our world be like today?
How many problems would be solved and how much happier would we all be on a day-to-day basis?
We may not all want to feed and pet mice that make their way into our homes, but we can all commit to doing one random act of kindness each day.
We can offer our seat on the train to a stranger. Email a colleague and let them know how much we appreciate their work. Pick up a piece of rubbish someone has just thrown on the ground and put it in the trash with no judgment.
If we start with these simple acts, we'll instinctively want to do more. We just need to remember that no act of kindness is too small. Each one makes the world a better place.
Photo by Helga Weber