Lessons From India 5: Appreciating the Kindness of Others

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These days people are so quick to point out the flaws in others but very hesitant to recognize their kindesses. You notice this happening a lot in the workplace. People take credit for other people’s work, blame others for their own mistakes and so on. However, in India I discovered an interesting thing – all of us would be f#$*ed without the kindness of others.

How are others kind to us?

If we take the time to look closely we will see that people are kind to us all the time and often in ways that we don’t even notice.

There are the easy ones to recognize, like our family. Our parents love us unconditionally and take care of us through thick and thin. Even if we had really crappy parents we can still appreciate the kindness of our dear mother who gave birth to us, fed us and protected us from harm in the early years.

Then we have our friends and distant relatives. These are the people you go to when you are sad or need a few bucks for lunch. It is easy to see how these people are kind to us. They put our needs ahead of their own and take care of us and entertain us when we are bored.

However, there is one group of people I am particularly interested in. This group is the kindest we know but we never recognize this kindess. In fact, quite often we hate these people.

They are our enemies.

How are our enemies kind to us?

If you look closely you will see that our enemies are the kindest people in our lives. The reason is simple. Without our enemies we would have no opportunity to practice patience and develop other similar qualities.

This is a basic buddhist mind training strategy. Instead of getting angry at our enemies we should treat them like our own personal teachers for without them we would not be able to practice and develop patience.

This is a very different approach to the traditional western view.

I wonder how you all will react to this strange idea. What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Lessons From India 5: Appreciating the Kindness of Others

  1. To be honest, this perspective baffles me. At least in the United States, particularly large cities, interaction is for the most part optional. Have you read Here is New York by E.B. White? If you haven’t, you should as he puts it much better than I ever could.

    Essentially, what I’m getting at is that if one so chooses, one can easily dismiss one’s enemies altogether. Why suffer the anxieties of unnecessary conflict with others when you have the power to create your life such that they do not exist?

  2. Hi Brice.

    Dismissing one’s enemies is one thing. It is better to dismiss them in a passive way if the alternative is anger. However, if you can use your relationship with your enemies to create something better that might ultimately benefit yourself and others wouldn’t that be a better option?

    Eagerly awaiting your reply…

  3. I realize this is an old thread, but I’ve been surfing the net for articles such as these bc lately at work I keep having conflicts with someone that I CANNOT dismiss, because I have an obligation to collaborate with her in certain tasks.
    This concept is not only Buddhist, it’s also Christian, therefore should not be so foreign to Americans. Jesus taught, love thy enemies…He also said to repay their evil with kindness and this would be like heaping burning coals onto their heads.
    Anyway, back to the case in hand. My question, is how do we accept our enemies’ insults, power abuses, etc. with kindness & patience, without losing our own dignity, and without allowing them to trample all over us and take advantage of us?
    How do we repay their snubs, insults, etc with kindness in an authentic, quiet and dignified way…meaning not coming off as sarcastic or false?

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