Excerpt from  Awakening Kindness

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

—His Holiness the Dalai Lama

A wakening Kindness is based on what His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls “human values,” which enhance our inner values. Based on this vision, this book focuses on the val- ues of love, compassion, and kindness—universal feelings. Kindness is the foundation of all great religions, even as it goes beyond all religions. Kindness—for yourself and for others—is not a concept that must be taught or a philosophy that has to be understood. Kindness is a simple, organic feeling that we need to awaken and grow in our hearts. We must first learn to be kind to ourselves so that we can show kindness and feel it toward others. It is a feeling that we recognize and know, that we are intimately familiar with from birth, and it is essential to first learn how to be kind to, and truly take care of, ourselves. In general, the most important thing in life is our own well- being. If we have no shelter or food, if we are suffering from the elements or from sickness, our well-being is negatively affected. External means of living are very important to our physical well-being, but they’re only one part of the story. The other part is our internal well-being—the state of our mind, whether our heart is kind or unkind, loving and compassionate or uncaring and cold. This makes all the difference when it comes to true, lasting happiness. We have to put the focus on love, compassion, and kindness. For that, you need to ask what you can do to nurture these positive feelings in your heart and allow them to grow, hopefully to the extent that your heart becomes

universally loving and compassionate to all beings.
Every one of us has the capacity to love and be kind to all other sentient beings, but we often don’t try to tap into our heart’s full potential. We don’t realize that we are only utilizing a small percentage of our heart’s potential for love. How much goodwill and charity do you feel every day and for how many people? It may be very limited at the moment, and that’s okay. That’s why you have picked up this book, because you want to know how to expand that. Most of us have a handful of loved ones—family members and close friends—whom we actively feel kindness and love for on a daily basis. But if you set aside a little time whenever you can to contemplate the points we will cover here, then you can begin to transform.

By actively trying, we will be able to love in a much greater way, but we must also notice the conditions we sometimes put on our caring. For example, when someone is from a different country or practices a different religion, it can be a block to our kindness. Nationality, different belief systems, and a num- ber of other differences are suddenly barriers for us, and we cannot go beyond them to truly show kindness and love. The world has seen this happen for centuries.

Unfortunately, this exact scenario has happened a lot in recent history, and it is still happening in many ways. A destructive feeling begins in each of us, as individuals—in our heart, religion, or some other aspect—and then we cannot be kind or show love to someone who is unlike us—Christian or Muslim or Hindu or another different faith. We have to remember that our love here is greater than our differences; altruism is greater than egoism.

All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.

—Mahatma Gandhi

All kinds of causes adversely affect our understanding, and we have trouble expanding our hearts beyond these conditions so that we can become someone able to love all sentient beings regardless of faith, nationality, opinion, culture, and so on. We know the potential is there; it is just a matter of expanding it beyond this small box. The process starts with us; then it spreads to all the people in our family—either our blood relatives or the family we have made for ourselves. We must start by loving ourselves and then the people around us, and then we can begin to gradually expand our heart.

It starts with us and then continues to the small circle of ours. When we look at these groups of people influenced by our kindness, they are concentric circles, with us in the center, our loved ones in the innermost circle, then our friends, and then a bigger circle—maybe fellow citizens or those we share a religious fellowship with. But there’s always a condition. Because our heart doesn’t go beyond these con- ditions, because we always think of a difference between ourselves and others, we are unable to care about all beings as we care about ourselves. But think about why we take care of ourselves: because we have a natural instinct to avoid suffering. That’s why I take care of myself, try to overcome problems, and find ways to be happy in life, because it’s my natural instinct to want happiness. This is our universal declaration of basic human nature: I want happiness. I don’t want suffering.

To get stuck in that box of conditions is a tragic situation. We have the ability to go beyond these barriers to our empathy, and this is one of the greatest gifts that human beings have: we can consciously open our hearts and become able to love greater humanity and all species.

When a child is born, the first thing she does is cry. That’s the first universal declaration of human nature saying, “I don’t want suffering!” Being taken from the warmth and comfort of the womb and suddenly thrust into a cold and foreign place is upsetting. And it is that first cry that shows our displeasure at our situation. We want to feel safe and loved, just as we were in the womb.

As soon as the mother nurses the baby, the child becomes quiet and peaceful. That’s the second universal declaration of human nature saying, “Yes, I want happiness.” We are all born with this as a basic part of our human nature. No religion has to teach us that, and no law has forced us to feel this way. It’s not even necessary for a parent to teach us these feelings. It’s instant, natural. I try to avoid any source of suffering and unhappiness. I try to find the aspects in life that bring me hap- piness, whether they’re love or money or friends. And as long as people out there have this natural instinct like I do—wanting joy and avoiding hardship—then I should care for them. I should not try to hurt them because when people hurt me, I don’t like it.

Now we’re not really talking about religion here, right? We’re talking about a natural thing; this is our reality.

In spite of all our differences, we are similar in that we all want to be happy; we don’t want to suffer. That is enough to illustrate how alike we are at our core. We don’t need any other reason to love others. It doesn’t matter what religion they practice, what race they are, what kind of social con- dition they are in. It doesn’t matter because we are all alike in this quintessential way. When we begin to truly see that this one similarity is what matters, then we can begin to love all beings. In Tibetan, we call that kind of great love Jampa Chenpo , Nyingje Chenpo , which means “great love and great compassion.” The Dalai Lama often mentions that our focus and energy are so geared toward the intellectual side of our mind that we leave our heart’s nurturing either to religious institutions or to our parents, but there is actually no dedicated time and space in our everyday lives to focus on this.

There is a big difference between knowing about love and compassion and embodying their qualities. Love and compas- sion are like plants. They start from a very simple seed and 

then gradually evolve. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says we have almost too much intelligence and a lack of heart. Because of that imbalance, we get into trouble because our intentions aren’t as focused as they should be. We have incredible intelli- gence; therefore, we are capable of doing incredible things. It’s unbelievable what we are able to do. But if intelligence is not accompanied by love and compassion, then it can become blind intelligence.

It can be destructive, too. We’ve witnessed destructive intelligence in our world when people focus on the advent of new ways to hurt others. But if it is accompanied by thoughtfulness and tolerance, that intelligence can become a very positive force. We have been evolving for millennia because we are a living phenomenon. It’s the same with plants, animals, and all the different natural phenomena out there; when it is living, then it is natural to evolve. Plants evolve based on what kinds of causes and conditions affect it, just as many animal species have evolved. Humans have evolved and created cultures, art, literature, technologies, and so on, and it’s amazing but natural that we’ve done so, because we nurture our intelligence. When we begin to concentrate more on these positive feelings—love, kindness, compassion— they can evolve if they are met with the right conditions, because they are also a natural phenomenon. 

The Galapagos Island Finches

In 1836, when Charles Darwin returned to England after the HMS Beagle ’s five-year journey, he identified thirteen different species of finches that had been collected, though he knew there was only one species of Finch on the South American mainland. By studying the different beak sizes and shapes, Darwin became the first person to discover adaptive radiation of a species.

Adaptive radiation happens when a species must acclimate to different ecological niches, eventually resulting in different species. The Galapagos finches all differed just slightly from each other, just as their environments did, thus giving each finch an advantage in staying alive and reproducing in its envi- ronment. These finches not only showed the way different conditions affect evolution, but they were also what helped Darwin come to the theory of natural selection.

Like the finches, our human feelings can evolve when met with the right causes and conditions; they can evolve our heart. 

They can become unconditional kindness. We can truly embody that quality, as the mother with her only child does, according to a thousand-year-old Tibetan legend. We can extend that love and compassion to all beings. Evolution is one of the natural laws, and knowing this, that we have the ability to change into compassionate beings, we can be more hopeful. We can see that maybe this really is possible for us all. When many of the great religions of the world describe their god, they talk about universal love. One of the great qualities of God is that She is all-loving. She is the supreme, the ultimate. Anyone who can be all-loving is the ultimate. In the Buddhist tradition, we say “enlightened being” instead of “god,” but this pretty much means the same thing. Whenever we describe an enlightened being, that entity has universal love and compas- sion—what, in the Mahayana Tibetan Buddhist tradition, we call “bodhicitta.” We try to cultivate that, to become it, and sometimes we can see that the possibility is there.

When we become more loving, more compassionate, and kinder, it does not mean that we have to be na ï ve or weak. This needs to be very clear. In truth, if we want to be loving people, compassionate people, kind people—not only loving a small circle of people but all beings, all humanity—then we have to be strong. We must be wise, not na ï ve. If we are not wise and strong, then people can take advantage of us. If we are strong, like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, or Aung San Suu Kyi—who has been under house arrest for more than a decade as punishment for her actions to implement democracy in Myanmar—then we realize that the lives and the happiness of the many are greater than those of the few. To make such personal sacrifices for the sake of humanity requires strength along with compassion.

Kindness Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi

After living in the United Kingdom and India, Aung San Suu Kyi (1945– ) returned to Myanmar (known as Burma at the time) to nurse her sick mother and became involved in the pro- democracy movement of 1988. After returning to Rangoon, the capital of Burma, in April, Suu Kyi did not play a large part in the political uprising until violent military action killed thousands of people during mass democracy demonstrations on August 8 (known as 8-8-88). Suu Kyi’s subsequent non- violent campaign for democracy has included letter writing, hunger strikes, and published books as well as the famous Irrawaddy Delta incident that is depicted in the 1995 film O .

On April 5, 1989, while touring the country speaking on democratic freedom and human rights, Suu Kyi was confronted by a military campaign in the Irrawaddy Delta in Rangoon, blocking a street where she and her supporters were walking. When the soldiers threatened to shoot, Suu Kyi walked up to them, requesting that her followers stay behind. She coura- geously approached these soldiers, staring down the barrels of numerous guns, because she knew they were looking for her and she did not want her followers to be caught in the line of fire. She later said, “It seemed so much simpler to provide them with a single target than to bring everyone else in.”

In 1991 Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a press release, the Norwegian Nobel Committee stated that it “wishes to honor this woman for her unflagging efforts and to show its support for the many people throughout the world who are striving to attain democracy, human rights, and ethnic conciliation by peaceful means.” In the face of violence, Suu Kyi has stayed true to her followers and peace- ful to those threatening her, truly embodying strength and compassion.

Suu Kyi’s kind of fearless courage is true strength. Strength is fearlessness; when we believe in something, we’re not afraid of doing it even at the cost of our life. That is real strength. We need to be strong in this way. We can be humble to people, but inside, we must be strong and wise. If we are not, people can fool us. Once we have this foundation of strength and wis- dom, we can practice kindness effectively.

Cultivate these qualities inside you, and then implement them in your life. The more you become compassionate and caring, the more your responsibility to serve others grows to include not just yourself and your circle. As your responsi- bility becomes greater, naturally, you have to be wiser and stronger. You need mental strength; you need to have a mind that is fearless, courageous, and truly determined to do positive things. You will be determined, not afraid—that is the kind of strength you need. Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi were not very strong physically; to look at them, espe- cially near the end of their lives, they were simply a little old lady and a skinny old man, but their minds were strong, courageous, and determined.

Many people today think that universal kindness, compas- sion, and love don’t work. They believe that these values are idealistic and impractical. This world is very tough, and too many people feel that they must be aggressive fighters, avengers. It’s true; we do have to be tough. The difference between this fighter viewpoint and compassion is that we have to be staunch in our convictions, in our heart, and in our belief that true compassion is more effective than vengeance. There can be truth in the thinking that compassion and kindness won’t work and that people will take advantage of us, but if we are wise and strong, people will not be able to; they won’t be able to fool us. By being strong and wise, this compas- sionate, kind, and loving way of life will succeed. This can work in the world. Mahatma Gandhi faced one of the world’s super- powers, but he was wise and strong. Every day Mother Teresa could have contracted any number of illnesses from the people she was helping and nurturing on the street, but she was not afraid. She had an incredibly courageous, fearless heart.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

—Mahatma Gandhi

We also need to look at kindness as if it were a beautiful flower. To grow a flower, to help it blossom and live as long as it can, we need to constantly nurture it, starting from the time it is a seed, putting it in the soil, giving it water, heat, and air. When a seed slowly grows and becomes a beautiful flower, constant tending makes it blossom. The process is the same with our heart and soul: if we don’t look after our heart, com- passion won’t suddenly manifest. Love and compassion will only grow inside our heart if we care for it. The seed is already there, always waiting for us to tap into it.

You have had a beautiful heart since before you were born; it’s always been there, and it has always held the potential to love others. From childhood, some people are very kind and caring; some are quite disturbed, and it takes a long time for them to come around, but they also have all the capacity to become loving and compassionate. We need to always see that. If we reincarnate, the next life is a different story, but our cur- rent reality is in the here and now. If we can take care in this life, every day, then whatever we encounter in the future will take care of itself. If there is no such thing as the next life, then at the end of this life, we have no regrets because we have done our best and lived our best possible life. So we live quite happily because we are trying to live lives that are grounded in love, compassion, and kindness.

It is just a matter of trying—making an effort to tap into compassion—every day. If you can do that, then you can see results day by day, month by month, year by year, and if you believe in a next life, then in every life you’ll get better and you’ll realize your heart’s full potential. Our heart has the seed of love, compassion, and kindness. It is there. No matter who you are, there is a seed of goodness; we Tibetans might say it is a seed of Buddha Nature. 

You, no less than all beings, have Buddha Nature within.

—Dhammavadaka

Part of Buddha Nature is seeing the value in compassion and kindness. In this world, we value everything, but a lot of the time, we focus on the material or what can get us material things. We value education; we value money; we value our home; we value everything. But we don’t value kindness and compassion enough. That’s the problem. What makes some- thing valuable or useless? The demarcation between what is valuable and what is not is if it brings comfort in life. Whatever helps reduce adversity is valuable.

Why is money valuable? Because we need clothes to keep us warm, shelter to protect us from the elements, and medicine and food to keep us healthy, and money can provide all those things. The uses and value of money go on and on. Why are friends valuable? Because, as the Dalai Lama says, human beings are social animals, so friends are a source of happiness. Why is a partner valuable? As traditional Western wedding vows say, we have someone, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. When we’re sick or have a problem, then our partner is there for us. When we are happy and successful, we share the joy together. This is very valuable. When something brings joy and minimizes suffering, its value grows. Now think about a smile, a kind word, or a surprise act of kindness from a friend or a stranger. What is the value of these things? They can all help with mental as well as physical well-being.

The Positive Effects of Kindness

While the list of things that are bad for us continues to grow, studies are continually exposing the positive health effects of kindness as well, so we can stay firm in the belief that kindness is truly beneficial to us all.

Kindness:

Increases our energy
Improves sleep patterns
Builds a stronger immune system
Assists with weight control
Increases body heat
Builds a healthier cardiovascular system Reduces stomach acid
Decreases oxygen requirements
Helps relieve arthritis and asthma
Contributes to a speedier recovery from surgery Reduces cancer activity
Produces serotonin, making us happier

As Rabbi Harold Kushner pointed out, “When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” In this way, even being kind to yourself creates more happiness in your own life. When an act as simple as smiling or giving someone a kind word actually makes you happy, it has true value. This book is all about reintroducing ourselves to the value of kindness and com- passion so that we can nurture these qualities within. The whole point is how kindness, love, and compassion are valu- able. In this way, we are going back to the basics: these positive feelings can bring us happiness. Kindness and com- passion are as important, if not more so, than all the material objects in the world. Look at all the particulars of life that we work so hard for—we cannot be happy and fully experience the material world without love and compassion, too. They are just as important.

Now imagine a president or a prime minister who truly values kindness and compassion; how much could that affect all the nations of the world? Imagine if all the wealthy people—billionaires and millionaires, Hollywood filmmakers, television network owners—were kinder; imagine how much of a difference that could make.

Once we begin to truly see the value in kindness and our own potential to feel universal bodhicitta, we can begin to work at feeling it. In Tibet, you can truly make yourself holy. If you really become a being who can feel universal love, kind- ness, and compassion, then you become a bodhisattva . If you can become the kind of being who can love all beings and place no conditions on that love, then you become holy.

The process does take time and effort, though. Khunu Lama Rinpoche, one of the Dalai Lama’s teachers, compares it to the practice of some hermit meditators in Eastern Tibet. Some of these hermits meditate for ten to twelve years in the mountains, trying to cultivate universal love and compassion. Gradually, their hearts start to really open up and go past all the boundaries and conditions, and they are able to love all beings. This happens in two stages, the first with effort—what Tibetans call tsolchey . This requires meditating every day, con- templating every day, working on our heart every day, putting effort in. When we are concentrating on compassion, even for half an hour, we can begin to feel the difference it is making. It’s like turning on a heater at home. Slowly, the house will start to heat up. Our heart can warm up in that way, with effort. 

When we begin to feel this, it is a sign that a real transfor- mation is taking place inside. After years of really working on their hearts, hermit meditators will begin to generate spontaneous universal love and compassion. Even the wild animals that live in the mountains become like domesticated animals in the pres- ence of these meditators; they are totally fearless around the hermits. Animals have a good sense of kindness, and they feel it so strongly around these hermits who have achieved bodhicitta that they want to be around them more.

When we transform, those around us, whether they are animals or humans, can sense it. The more we become truly caring, the more everyone around will feel it, and they will benefit spontaneously. Everyone enjoys being around us when we become that kind of person. We can sometimes see this happen in our own families or groups of friends; people are drawn to the kindest people. It’s because they feel so comfort- able and safe. It feels truly comforting to be around that person who is very kind and caring and loving.

If we familiarize our mind and heart with kindness and patience, it will become second nature to us to be a very kind and patient person. This is the second stage, when we become so well trained and full of love and compassion that this state becomes second nature to us, effortless—we call this tsolmay . It can actually be compared to many skills we have to learn  gradually, such as writing. It probably took you quite a while to be able to write an a , and now you can write it without thinking about the process. Professional athletes are a good example of this as well. For gymnasts, the movements and rou- tines are difficult, and they have to practice hard every day. They have to train to make what they do look easy to the rest of us, and it looks effortless not because it doesn’t take effort but because they trained so hard that it became second nature for them.

Compassion and kindness are not going to drop from the sky. The transformation takes place in tsolchey. We have to put consistent effort into it. The analogy of kindness as a plant that needs consistent nurturing is helpful here as well. If we do that, year by year, we get better and better. Right now, maybe you can kind of feel good about or close to a certain number of people. In a few years’ time, your heart may become so open that you may feel the same goodness and closeness toward all human beings and hopefully other species who share this planet with us. You realize that seed of Buddha Nature, of true kindness, in your heart, and you water it every day, just as you would take care of any other living thing.

With meditation, we use our minds to cultivate and train ourselves to be more compassionate, more loving, and kinder. Meditation is a universal tool—in the Tibetan tradition we say  gom , which means “familiarizing.” In Tibet it is said, “ Gyomna Laawar, Migyur Wey, Nyoedey Gangyang Yoe Mayin ,” which means, “Through familiarity, there is nothing that doesn’t get easier.” In meditation, we are familiarizing our mind with some- thing, with a specific spiritual essence. If we familiarize our mind with peaceful breath, then we can gradually become peaceful. Personally, I really like meditating on compassion, kindness, and love. What can happen is, the more we familiarize our heart and mind with love, compassion, and kindness, these inner qualities gradually become our second nature.

In Tibetan tradition, we talk about how the mind has two aspects, loong and sem . Sem is clarity; this is awareness and being conscious of different phenomena. That is one of the functions of the mind. The other side is loong, which is when your active mind is aware of something—for example, when you hear a sound and your awareness suddenly moves to that sound. The energy that moves your awareness around, loong, aids in sub- tly moving your awareness throughout your body. These are the two qualities you want to be aware of as you meditate: the movement of your awareness and the awareness itself, the ability to be aware of the different phenomena. The awareness should be in different places at different times: on your breath, on the meditative phrase, and so on. When that awareness moves, be aware of its movement and where it has gone. 

In the West, when people see a meditation tool, they usu- ally think about single-pointed meditation. In the Tibetan tradition, we have two kinds of meditation. Jog-Gom means “single-pointed meditation,” whether that point is your breath or a visualization of a divine being. Breathing meditation is also part of the yoga tradition. In India, it’s a prominent part of the Hindu tradition and the Buddhist tradition. We call it Loong Joong Nyoop Ki Gom . It is utilized as one of the impor- tant tools in meditation.

The other type of meditation is Chay-Gom , which means “analytical meditation,” and this uses the maximum intelli- gence of human beings. The more we use it, the sharper and more highly evolved we become. We have an incredible brain that we can analyze and reason with, so we can use this to truly focus on kindness, compassion, and love.

Analytical meditation is one of the most powerful tools we can use to transform human consciousness as well as our hearts and minds, especially to cultivate universal love and compassion. Therefore, of all the meditation tools, analytical meditation is one of the most treasured and is always encouraged by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This method of meditation is like churning milk to make butter; we churn the milk of our human consciousness in order to manifest universal kindness and com- passion. Of course, both analytical and single-pointed meditations are done on the basis of extensive study on the sub- ject matter of the meditations; therefore, monks and nuns study for decades in the monasteries and nunneries, and even lay practitioners study extensively in their own ways.

Meditation Tool: Posture and Breathing Meditation

Before you begin meditating, think of your meditation pos- ture. You can sit on a chair with back support or on the floor with a cushion or a mat, cross-legged. If you prefer, you can sit in the semi-lotus position, which is on the floor with each leg bent and each foot resting on the opposite leg’s thigh. For this beginning meditation, a simple sitting posture is fine.

With all meditations, keep in mind:

• Situpstraight;haveastraightspine
• Yourback,neck,andshouldersshouldberelaxed
• Clearyourmindsoyoucanbeawareandconsciousof

your meditation

Also be aware of what you are doing with your hands: left on bottom, right on top, both palms facing up and the tips of your thumbs touching. The thumbs should touch somewhere at the level of your navel. There are a few ways to hold your head, but try bending it slightly forward, but not so far that you become sleepy. Allow your eyes to semi-open and gaze out over the tip of your nose. This natural gaze can help you collect all your distracted thoughts into a completely focused state of mind. For a relaxing meditation like this one, you also can close your eyes. Your mouth and jaw should be relaxed and natural as well, so touch the tip of your tongue gently to your upper palate. Your mouth should just be closed naturally.

We all breathe, so this is one of the simplest as well as the most beneficial meditations to begin with. Breathe naturally, through your nose if possible or comfortable. Be aware of the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils. This sensation should be the single-pointed focus of your meditation when you first begin. Try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.

At first, your mind will be busy, and you might feel your awareness moving. If this happens, you may actually be improving your meditation practice, as you are becoming more aware of how your awareness moves. Try, in spite of feel- ing your awareness move around, to remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If you find that your awareness has wandered and is focusing on thoughts, surroundings, and so on, immediately but gently return your awareness to your breath. Repeat this whenever you can until your mind settles on your breath regularly. 

Set aside some time every day to contemplate your breath, or even everyday wonders—the sun shining, the beauty we can find in simple objects—to truly benefit these positive human values in your heart. Then, slowly but steadily, you will truly become inspired by these inner values, and your heart will open. This is when your true humanity starts to take root within your heart and mind. The great master Khunu Lama Rinpoche said, “[Meditation] is how it is possi- ble how an individual can transform his or her heart and become more loving, kind, and compassionate.”

After becoming familiar with the basic breathing meditation practice, begin meditating on this simple phrase: May all be kind to each other .

I created this phrase, and it is now endorsed and blessed by ten Nobel Peace Laureates: the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, President Jos é Ramos-Horta, Rigoberta Mench ú Tum, President Ó scar Arias S á nchez, Shirin Ebadi, Adolfo P é rez Esquivel, and Mairead Corrigan-Maguire.

Set aside time every day to meditate on kindness. Even ten minutes a day will help you begin to show an improvement. If you are particularly busy on a specific day, find a few minutes when you are alone and can relax, even if it is in the restroom, to concentrate on this phrase and the value of kindness. Later in the book, we will learn meditation tools that may fit into your busy life better, but this simple meditation is a beautiful place to start.

Tibetan Legend: Atisha

In Tibet, we have the great saint Atisha, who was born an Indian prince but then decided to become a monk. He studied intensively and meditated for years in solitude. Then, seventeen years before his death, he went to Tibet and lived there for the rest of his life. With all his extensive study, he was a very enlightened being, what we call Drupchen , which means that he achieved vast wisdom, and he saw kindness as one of the most important messages he could share. He was a great mas- ter, but his message was very simple. When he would meet people and they would greet him with, “Good morning,” he would say, “Have you been kind?” When people departed, he would say, “Please try to be kind.” That was his main mes- sage: kindness.


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