Clear Motivation

"Be kind whenever possible. It's always possible" – The Dalai Lama

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Don’t Worry, He’s Nice

Jogging around the block the other day, I approached a dog sitting on someone’s lawn. The dog stood up and started to come towards me, and a man standing nearby quickly called out, “Don’t worry – he’s nice!”

Isn’t that often all we need to hear? All of my anxieties, suspicions, and soreness that come between me and others – when I really trust those words, they immediately fade away. I can see the other person, or dog, as simply another being. I can stop worrying about what harm may come to me if I let my guard down.

Holding up a guard itself creates the tension that leads to so many unsatisfying encounters. Clinging to my self and the safety of my ego is what leads me to turn others into enemies. First comes a negative image – a judgment – of them. Then, thinking I’m standing before someone who could do me harm, I act like a jerk. Acting like a jerk, the recipient of my unfriendliness is now inclined to reciprocate that behavior. As the pattern repeats, enemies are born as easily as fears.

I think to get over this habit, we need to realize that we ourselves are nice. Once, the Buddha was in a village with 500 of his disciples. A mad elephant was let loose and began rampaging through the village, running straight for the Buddha. All of the villagers ran away, as did the monks. Yet, the Buddha remained still, totally unafraid. Only Ananda stayed with him. As the elephant came closer, the Buddha radiated metta (loving-kindness) towards the wild beast. By the time the elephant reached the Buddha, he stopped in his tracks and bowed down before the Buddha.

The Buddha’s heartfelt love for this elephant aroused him from his nightmare anger. This love told the elephant, “Don’t worry – You’re nice!” It allowed her to see her basic goodness, the inner purity of her mind. It’s like how many people, from all walks of life, report feeling something quite unique and enjoyable when in the presence of H.H. the Dalai Lama. His profound love reminds us that we’re far more than we’re ordinarily aware of. It’s very hard to stay angry around someone like that!

Realizing that my own basic nature is related with this kindness enables me to give up my hostility. I can replace the usual anxiety and suspicion of others with warmth and affection for them. When everyone I meet is a friend, no matter what they do, everything is a favor.

Since everyone appreciates kindness, this attitude spreads. If I can hold on to the awareness of my own capacity for love, I’ll share it with those around me. I’ll see the kindness of others.

Today, I’ll practice being mindful of the power of love and train myself to dwell there. Thus, all beings around me, my friends, my mothers, will be encouraged to awaken their own potential for limitless love.


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Kindness Faces the Storm

Tonight, I reflect on the kindness of others as snow billows down. On the television, this storm is made out to be a big event. I don’t think it’s so incredible – it’s just a natural phenomenon. Snow snows. All over the universe snow snows.

What we have here that merits true awe is the fact that the there’s a blizzard and no one (or at least, very few) people are dying. I am sitting in a room with heat, light, friends, food, water, books, a computer. And nothing done from my side contributed to the creation of these things.

Other people have exerted themselves with much effort to produce the items that are keeping me alive, contented, and cozy. People have learned how to manipulate the five elements and the raw materials of our earth to suit the needs of their brothers and sisters. I’m the recipient of the fruits of thousands of years of experimentation and careful designing.

Looking at the types of living beings we can see and recalling the human history that is known makes evident the extreme rarity of these circumstances. Tonight, I feel grateful. I’ll generate the wish to repay the kindness of others by cultivating great love and compassion and sharing those through my actions.

Understanding that this situation is transient and fragile, I endeavor to not take it for granted, but to really use this situation to progressively improve my capacity to be of service to others.

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Kind Mother Sentient Beings

Understanding that the continuity of consciousness is without a beginning point has changes my perspective in many ways. One of its most life-enhancing implications is the unavoidable truth that in the past, we’ve been intimately connected to all other living beings. All sentient beings have been my mother. As my mothers, they’ve been unimaginably kind. Therefore, there is nothing more important for me to do in this life than to repay their kindness.


Sometimes while thinking along these lines, a dissenting thought chimes in, arguing that in the same way, all sentient beings have been my mean third grade teacher, my captor, my predator, my slanderer.

While this is true, it doesn’t actually diminish the kindness of my mothers nor in any way make it acceptable to not have loving-concern for them. For one, anger sucks. It serves no good purpose, and to be resentful would only make me miserable to no end. If I really ask myself if there’s truly a sound reason to not develop love for all beings, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, will I find one?

Further, the kindness received far outweighs any harm endured. If I look at our world, this is evident. Mammals would not have evolved if kind mother beings did not invest themselves so selflessly in the care of their children. Absent the kindness of mother sentient beings, our human societies would collapse over night.

How often am I murdered, beaten, eaten, enslaved, or otherwise harmed? Perhaps once a lifetime, maybe with a handful of other mild harms – but mother sentient beings have poured kindness upon me for years on end. I’m still on my mother’s health insurance!


Today, I will reflect on the kindness of mothers – mothers I see in the supermarket, mothers I see in nature videos, mothers I see flitting around out the window, and as much as I can remember being reared by my own mother. It’s remarkable. It’s incessant. It’s why I’m certain that love is an central aspect of human nature.

I will bring to mind the warm-hearted affection of regarding my mother lovingly when I look at each person I meet. I’ll see their inner beauty, recalling that I’m only here today because of the kindness they’ve been giving me for eons past. With gratitude and a mind brimming with fantastic joy at the sheer luminosity created as loving-kindness manifests, I’ll extend myself out to others. I’ll care for all others equally, wishing that they have everything good and all the causes for true happiness.