Toward the end of this life, Aldous Huxley was interviewed and asked, “Dr. Huxley, perhaps more than anyone else in the world, you have studied all the great religions and spiritual traditions. Can you summarize for us what you have learned?” Dr. Huxley replied, “I think just to be a bit kinder”.
For all our seeking and exploring, this simple, ageless wisdom remains the essence of a successful life on Earth, no matter what convoluted paths we may take to learn it. There’s no spiritual practice more profound than being thoughtful and considerate to one’s family, neighbors, an unexpected visitor, the person who delivers the mail or picks up the garbage, or any other of the “invisible” people whose paths we cross in the course of a normal day.
Right where we are, in whatever we’re already doing, the opportunity to do a kind deed for someone is almost always present. We need only be conscious and aware, and then give away whatever we can to whomever is right there. It’s in a smile, a word of appreciation, or the countless thoughtful acts that we fulfill the lessons of the heart. It’s from our intentions that our life grows. It’s in opening to one another that our path is made whole.
We can use all our hurts and joys, all the forces that mold us, to soften our hearts and embrace the world with kindness and respect. Our happiness can help to make us kinder because true happiness inspires generosity of spirit. Sadness can help to make us kinder because we can allow it to remind us that every human being suffers sadness. Our strength can enable us to be kind if we understand that kindness doesn’t diminish strength; it increases it. Even weakness, shame, and guilt can help us to be kind because, as with sadness, we can embrace those feelings in everyone and have more compassion.
After so many years of going around in circles and forgetting what it was we were after in the first place, we may remember Dr. Huxley’s words “Just to be a little kinder”. Ah, and then we’ll nod our heads, laugh at ourselves, drop a hundred little burdens and complexities and start all over again in the terrain of our simplest, moment-to-moment behavior. Whether toward ourselves, each other, other species, or the environment, the best we’ve learned is just to be a bit kinder.