Updated On — 23rd Sep, 2021
I was driving somewhere the other day with my son Kupai in the car. It was late afternoon and I had just gotten up from bed (I work nights). I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, just trying to get to where we were going.
Kupai suddenly said, “Look Dad, that license plate says ‘Be Kind.’”
I looked over and just caught a glimpse of the plate in the late afternoon sun, glimmering, glistening; a soft spear of light striking my chest.
Images of a roving messenger, a town crier, a wine-loving mystic intoxicated on love, Rumi’s car that knows all the back streets of the heart, spreading the gospel of loving-kindness in neighborhoods of the world where Love seldom visits.
Dad, you missed the turn.
Oh, yes, mindfulness. I forgot.
Sharon Salzberg has often says in her talks that in the West loving-kindness often takes the back seat to qualities such as being brilliant, or enterprising.
She wrote recently in her column in On Being With Krista Tippett:
“The hidden message is, ‘Well, if you can’t be brilliant, or you can’t be courageous and wonderful, ok, be kind.’ It’s nice. It’s not greatness, but it’s a good thing.”
Sometimes when metta (loving-kindness practice) comes up as a discussion topic or a formal meditation practice in our Thursday evening mindfulness group I sense a collective non-verbal groan. Like, oh, not again, we did loving-kindness practice three months ago.
It’s powerful to think of kindness as a front seat power developed through our mindfulness practice. Especially in times like ours, when even a casual peek at CNN tonight revealed “Boy, 8, charged with murder of toddler while parents out clubbing.”
Metta is all about inclusiveness, like the courageous football coach of the University of Missouri Gary Pinkel taking the bold measure of supporting his black players’ boycott, of standing firm not to play in any games until the University President stepped down due to his non-action regarding racial tensions on campus.
Clearly, we need this spirit of inclusiveness, as we saw this week the arrest of one student for making online threats to black students and faculty of this university.
The biggest lessons I have learned in my life are really about kindness and inclusiveness.
“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless.”
In this bottomless-ness, there is room for everyone and everything.
For love and clarity.
To fall in love, as Rumi says, but to stay awake so I don’t miss making the correct turns while driving.
Speaking of Rumi:
“Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there.”
That’s pure metta.
Or my man Hafiz:
Light will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.
Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy
Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.
A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend’s gratuity will come —
O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.
From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.
Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.
He is conducting the affairs
Of the whole universe
While throwing wild parties
In a tree house
on a limb In your heart.
Be mindful. Fall in love.
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