2019: Kindness is My Religion!

A little virus has delayed me in writing a post to welcome in the new year. But as I have spent time resting over the past week or so I have pondered a simple concept that, like many simple concepts, seems to be increasingly forgotten in our fast paced world. Kindness is a gentle word that depicts something so important I find myself surprised that I don’t use it or think of it more often.


I remember some years ago going to see the Dalai Lama on one of his visits to Australia and I bought a lovely coffee mug that said ‘My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness’. I was struck by the simplicity and importance of this notion. None of us can truly know what, if anything, lies beyond our world so it seems to make a lot of sense to me that we focus on what we do know and give our strongest efforts to living the best life that we can, right here and now.


As I ponder what that means for me I also wonder what sort of life that would be for other people. If we were to give all of our energy to living the best life we can, would it include kindness to ourselves, each other and all sentient beings? As I’ve been recuperating I’ve been resting. What a kindness to ourselves to rest and just allow time to pass as we replenish our energy. Often I find myself wanting to do and to be busy achieving and striving. Often I am a ‘human doing’ rather than a ‘human being’.


And sadly, I often still find myself wishing others in my life were different and that they would do less of the things I find annoying and more of the things I find pleasing. What a kindness to others to just accept them for who they are and love them regardless. I am reminded of a wonderful quote from the fiction author Leon Uris – ‘This is the final love, to know the faults and the wrongs of that which you love, and go on loving just the same.’


Around 30 years ago now I made the conscious decision to become vegetarian. I was inspired by the negative impact on the environment of raising and grazing animals on our land, as well as the arguments for more effectively feeding the world’s population from growing more plant based foods. But my decision was mostly as a kindness to animals. Over the past year I have been challenged to explore the ways in which other animal products are also a consequence of the terrible treatment, suffering and oftentimes death, of so many animals. I am steadily making my way towards a full vegan lifestyle. It’s not easy but then I’m not sure that kindness needs to be easy in order to be the right course of action.


I have always said that each of us need to decide for ourselves where we draw the line in terms of how we live our life. For me, vegetarianism was the right place for me to draw the line for many, many years. And now that line is moving as I redraw my life’s priorities. It’s a decision we all must make for ourselves but like all decisions, we make better ones when they are conscious and fully informed. I realise now there was so much that I was unaware of, and now being aware I can’t not know what I know so therefore I must change where I draw my line.


I wonder about the world we might create if we were all to embrace more kindness to ourselves, each other and the animals we share our planet with. I am confident it would be a more peaceful and equitable world.


In the meantime, I wish you all a peaceful and fulfilling year in 2019 as we all try to do each day what is in our power as individuals to make the world a better place.