Friday, November 4, 2011

Chapter Six: Cruel to Be Kind

Let's begin with a conversation about Karma. Karma is about cause and effect. You reap what you sow. What goes around comes around, etc. Karmic actions are actions which are incomplete. The "live a good life" goal is for our choices to be aligned with the principle of ahimsa- to do no harm, to act with kindness and non-violence toward all beings. When we lean away from ahimsa in thought, word and deed, we generate ripples that can turn to waves and make big messes for us to clean up later. When we act in line with ahimsa our actions are expansive, elevating and life giving. If you think and act and speak unkindly, you will later be held responsible for those choices in ways that are perhaps uncomfortable. This is karma- the bummer effect of d-bag behavior.

As I age, I become increasingly sensitive to the size and quality of the impact that I am making in the world, or rather, the amount of karma I am generating or not. I want to preserve and ripple, build and destruct in all the right ways at the right times. I am mindful about the amount of water I use and waste I generate, about the food and products I choose to consume.

Where I am growing lately is in my understanding about all the difficult ways in which we need to be honest in order to do no harm. There are truths to be told that will disappoint or hurt in the moment, but are ultimately necessary to prevent more significant hurt in the future. We have to do and say the uncomfortable things that need to be done and said now, and do it in a way that is not violent to ourselves or the recipient.

Violence comes in many forms and I think we often miss how violent our words can be, especially when we direct them at ourselves. Ahimsa covers ALL living beings, though, honeyloves- that includes you. Telling half truths, speaking disparagingly about ourselves or compromising our well being for the sake of someone else's happiness and comfort is a form of self-inflicted violence that serves no one in the end. You deserve to speak your truth and get your needs met, and the recipient of your truth deserves to hear it, even if they don't think they want to.

The concept of being "cruel to be kind" resonates here for me. Sometimes people's feelings are going to get hurt. It's not really any of our business how people feel, though. Let them feel hurt or not. But tell the truth. Always tell the truth. And be as gentle as possible with your words.

Tonight I faced my first major test in this area in a while. I had to tell someone that I did not want to see them anymore. The relationship had long since run it's course for me but this person was still contacting me. The last time we hung out, I felt terrible afterwards and knew in my heart, in my gut, in every cell that this was not good for me. Instead of turning on myself or on him, I kept it neutral: "This type of relationship does not feel emotionally good for me anymore. I have enjoyed our time, thank you! I wish you all the best." No blaming either way, no dramatics. Straight, simple, as-gentle-as-possible honesty. He may be hurt and angry, and he is free to feel that way, but I know that pretending to be engaged in the relationship any longer would ultimately hurt us both. Considering the principle of ahimsa, this is unacceptable. In this moment I am reminded of the wise, irreverent words of my dear friend, Jeff:
"It's quite simple. If you're lying next to someone and your heart and mind are both in this same spot, this is likely the right situation for you. Otherwise, do the Universe a favor, put on your undies and take a walk..."

Start inside. Soften to your own needs and hurts and sensitivities. Think and speak of yourself gently, kindly. Practice and practice until it becomes a habit. Grow the habit to envelop every thought and word and interaction. Ahimsa. Kindness. Non-violence. Realize that sometimes you have to be "cruel" to be kind. Speak your truth oh-so-very-gently. Do your best today. Practice and practice. This is how the world changes- when you change through patient practice. Gently, now.

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