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Kindness: The First Gift

--by John O'Donohue (Aug 26, 2013)


There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things; it presides everywhere, often in the places we least expect. The world can be harsh and negative, but if we remain generous and patient, kindness inevitably reveals itself. Something deep in the human soul seems to depend on the presence of kindness; something instinctive in us expects it, and once we sense it we are able to trust and open ourselves. Here in Conamara, the mountains are terse and dark; left to themselves they would make for a brooding atmosphere. However, everywhere around and in between there are lakes. The surface of these lakes takes on the variations of the surrounding light to create subtle diffusions of color. Thus their presence qualifies the whole landscape with a sense of warmth and imagination. If we did not feel that some ultimate kindness holds sway, we would feel like outsiders confronted on every side by a world toward which we could make no real bridges.

"The word kindness has a gentle sound that seems to echo the presence of compassionate goodness. When someone is kind to you, you feel understood and seen. There is no judgment or harsh perception directed toward you. Kindness has gracious eyes; it is not small-minded or competitive; it wants nothing back for itself. Kindness strikes a resonance with the depths of your own heart; it also suggests that your vulnerability, though somehow exposed, is not taken advantage of; rather, it has become an occasion for dignity and empathy. Kindness casts a different light, an evening light that has the depth of color and patience to illuminate what is complex and rich in difference.

"Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway. This is the heart of blessing. To believe in blessing is to believe that our being here, our very presence in the world, is itself the first gift, the primal blessing. As Rilke says: Hier zu sein ist so viel — to be here is immense. Nowhere does the silence of the infinite lean so intensely as around the form of a newly born infant. Once we arrive, we enter into the inheritance of everything that has preceded us; we become heirs to the world. To be born is to be chosen. To be created and come to birth is to be blessed. Some primal kindness chose us and brought us through the forest of dreaming until we could emerge into the clearance of individuality, with a path of life opening before us through the world.

"The beginning often holds the clue to everything that follows. Given the nature of our beginning, it is no wonder that our hearts are imbued with longing for beauty, meaning, order, creativity, compassion, and love. We approach the world with this roster of longings and expect that in some way the world will respond and confirm our desire. Our longing knows it cannot force the fulfillment of its desire; yet it does instinctively expect that primal benevolence to respond to it. This is the threshold where blessing comes alive.


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On Nov 1, 2015 christ123 wrote:

 Fee Structure for Christ University Bangalore M A economics and M A psychology is available on website and admission are open for the same.



On Sep 11, 2015 maggie wrote:

 Last month I was on a backpacking tour in Montana with 7 others. I took a spill on a steep shale rock decline and fractured my ankle and was cared for by my mates on the mountain for 8 hours before the rescue team reached us. These 7 individuals showed me nothing but loving kindness, compassion, empathy and sheer love. I am forever in deep gratitude how they loved me in the wilderness and helped me to survive, both physically and mentally. 




On Nov 30, 2014 Donna Nikzi wrote:

 I'm not religious and yet my favorite word in the bible is "lovingkindness"! This is who we are. This is our connection to all life and all the wonderful kingdoms which reign in our world. I believe that humanity is on a search for its "kingdom"....and that we will discover our beautiful and wondrous kingdom through....kindness. Kindred spirits abound and unite us all on our personal and collective journey through the great mystery. Lovingkindness is the glue that binds us all together and embraces all the goodness that we are.



1 reply: Bless | Post Your Reply
On Sep 11, 2013 Avriane Maritz wrote:

 Maybe this has to do with what we believe the universe's attitude towards us - is it friendly or hostile? I think it was Einstein who said this, and somehow that remark of his stays with me. If we believe it to be a friendly, kind-ness universe, then this is how we will experience it. The opposite also applies. It is true that ever so often we experience unkindness in the universe. However, Verdi had one of his opera characters sing:"Love is the heartbeat of the universe...." If we would be seeing God in everything, in everything, we would maybe start understanding the level of love, goodwill and kindness embracing us. Whether we allow and acknowledge it, is a different question.



On Aug 29, 2013 anjali wrote:

Wonderful thoughts! the first time i ever felt the benevolence in my life was the day i questioned the purpose of my existence. till then i thought i had quite decent life was walking on the path with out being aware and then suddenly it all went topsey turvey and nothing made sense. The day i started looking for answers that went beyond my logic was the day i felt that something deeper in me connecting to something larger than me.. my soul connected to the spirit..  that was a primal benevolence responding to me...   and to me the intimate kindness reflects extension of that response.. someone/something responded to me that day simply because i asked, no resrvations...no conditions to be met... same way when v start responding to our selves and others without reservation .. without any conditions- is the benevolence within each of us responding to someone's longing.. to me that is a refection of some intimate kindness..  See full.

Wonderful thoughts! the first time i ever felt the benevolence in my life was the day i questioned the purpose of my existence. till then i thought i had quite decent life was walking on the path with out being aware and then suddenly it all went topsey turvey and nothing made sense. The day i started looking for answers that went beyond my logic was the day i felt that something deeper in me connecting to something larger than me.. my soul connected to the spirit..  that was a primal benevolence responding to me...   and to me the intimate kindness reflects extension of that response.. someone/something responded to me that day simply because i asked, no resrvations...no conditions to be met... same way when v start responding to our selves and others without reservation .. without any conditions- is the benevolence within each of us responding to someone's longing.. to me that is a refection of some intimate kindness..

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On Aug 28, 2013 Norbert Johnson wrote:

 

Read this wonderful entry a few times.
The experience resonated very powerfully with my own conditioned life history models of bridged attachments that have come and gone.
The author has touchingly not only pointed out some of our innate human bonds that hold sway for each one of us regardless of circumstance but gently shared with us our beautiful spiritual connections as well.
 
The approach may vary considerably on our hearts path but wide open is the door to many blessings for each of us who demonstrate true kindness.


On Aug 27, 2013 Deejay wrote:

 I like this artical.



On Aug 27, 2013 a wrote:

 First off, I have to say that I'm a big fan of John O'Donohue's writing!  (I've several of his books!)
He said, "To believe in blessing is to believe  that our being here, our very presence in the world,  is itself the first gift, the primal blessing."  
I'd say, "To believe in blessing would be to believe His promise of  Heaven, to those who believe.  God's earthly blessings give us  a foretaste of His Kingly kindness!  Our Heaven is heaven one day will be the ultimate gift!
When I think of kindness' shown to me in my lifetime, here on earth, the majority were driven by God.  By using people, places and things He created, He continues to reveal His benefit . . . His gift . . . His blessing . . . and best, His Love
Take Jesus in . . . then give Him away in gifts of kindness  
I love you!




On Aug 27, 2013 Louis wrote:

I own a piece of land (75 acres) along a concession road about 5 miles out of town. I got it cheap because it was cut over (Trees harvested to make lumber) 20 years ago.  But now it has started to grow back.

It is not a beautiful piece of land. It still has scares from the harvest. There is also a lot of wet lands and bogs. One part that was not harvested is now populated with old trees dying and falling.

I don't have a cabin on it. Only an old shed in which I keep my 4X4. But I love to go there, travel trails I have made, on foot or on my 4X4,

It seems to many very inhospitable. But it have come to appreciate it's savage and wild side. I go there often and I always come back feeling more alive.



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On Aug 27, 2013 Jonathan wrote:

"If we did not feel that some ultimate kindness holds sway, we would feel like outsiders confronted on every side by a world toward which we could make no real bridges," wrote the author at the end of the first paragraph. Most people, however, have ample reason in their experience to give them doubt about the kindness inherent in the world.  When your life experience suggests to your ego that kindness does not hold sway, what do you do?  I think that fundamentally, the answer humans have had is attachment, in different forms - material, emotional, mental. These attachments give us the experience of a bridge between us and what we are attached to.  Ultimately, we are pushed by life to let go of these attachments, and when we do, we can feel an existential loneliness.  This is a good thing, because we are close then, it is said, to experiencing the Self, which can only be experienced when we are not actively attached.  But when we sense that loneliness is threat  See full.

"If we did not feel that some ultimate kindness holds sway, we would feel like outsiders confronted on every side by a world toward which we could make no real bridges," wrote the author at the end of the first paragraph. Most people, however, have ample reason in their experience to give them doubt about the kindness inherent in the world.  When your life experience suggests to your ego that kindness does not hold sway, what do you do?  I think that fundamentally, the answer humans have had is attachment, in different forms - material, emotional, mental. These attachments give us the experience of a bridge between us and what we are attached to.  Ultimately, we are pushed by life to let go of these attachments, and when we do, we can feel an existential loneliness.  This is a good thing, because we are close then, it is said, to experiencing the Self, which can only be experienced when we are not actively attached.  But when we sense that loneliness is threatening us (that is, threatening our attachments - it certainly cannot threaten the Self!), we often make or reinforce those illusory bridges.  To the extent we can not depend on those bridges, is the extent to which we can realize that the nature of our world, as the author says, is truly kindness.  We experience, in essence as the author assures us, that we are all connected by bridges of kinship as brothers and sisters, children of God, our "hearts imbued with longing for beauty, meaning, order, creativity, compassion, and love" as he says, seeking to make those 'kinship bridges' tangibly real in the world.  Now if I could only see this as I look across my interpersonal landscape through a glass darkly, my regrettable conditioning - so much of it unconscious, ingrained from a karmic childhood of misfortune - seeking refuge in the safety of bridges not between my Self and your Self, but between my desire and my object of desire, that is, in attachment.  I need some awakin-ing, my friends.




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1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
On Aug 27, 2013 Hala kamal wrote:

So good and true



On Aug 26, 2013 rakeshpoddar wrote:

 sometimes in the desperatness of looking good in the society you try to be desperate to be kind which i think is unhealthy



On Aug 26, 2013 Vinit Taneja wrote:

Very recently, 5 of us were together, one on Skype and the other 4 in a room, to launch our new not-for-profit venture called Tresonance Foundation, whose mission is to serve individuals to discover and manifest their calling. Suddenly, in the middle of our conversations, a Punjabi chant 'Ek Omkar Satnam' started playing. It was coming from somewhere. The person on Skype had no clue and she had not put on any music. It stopped after 15 seconds or so. We all had goose bumps. Our (ad)venture was blessed magically with divine kindness even as we were taking our baby steps. Vinit Taneja on behalf of the trustees of Tresonance Foundation



On Aug 24, 2013 david doane wrote:

 The author has a very positive attitude -- I like that -- I suppose we can all use more of that.  To me, "some intimate kindness" "at the deepest level of reality" means that we are basically fundamentally good, including kind, and it's important that that goodness be cultivated rather than lost.  Unkindness is distortion or misdirection of fundamental kindness.  It is kindness gone awry, and it can do horrible damage.  To me, "to be born is to be chosen" means that of the million sperm that could have connected with that egg, I am the result of the sperm and egg that did connect, and I was born and have the opportunity to be me and live.  I have made many choices, minor and major, in my life that have been good for me, the majority of reasons for why I made those choices I don't know (they were unconscous, if you will), and I attribute those good choices to a primal goodness and benevolence in me.  I believe primal benevolence and intimate goodness  See full.

 The author has a very positive attitude -- I like that -- I suppose we can all use more of that.  To me, "some intimate kindness" "at the deepest level of reality" means that we are basically fundamentally good, including kind, and it's important that that goodness be cultivated rather than lost.  Unkindness is distortion or misdirection of fundamental kindness.  It is kindness gone awry, and it can do horrible damage.  To me, "to be born is to be chosen" means that of the million sperm that could have connected with that egg, I am the result of the sperm and egg that did connect, and I was born and have the opportunity to be me and live.  I have made many choices, minor and major, in my life that have been good for me, the majority of reasons for why I made those choices I don't know (they were unconscous, if you will), and I attribute those good choices to a primal goodness and benevolence in me.  I believe primal benevolence and intimate goodness is the deepest level of each of our reality. 

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On Aug 23, 2013 navinsata wrote:

 "some intimate kindness" when 3h ,heart head and hends are in harmony with our true nature,love=compassion and much more human  virtue.weare  blessed to witness many acts of kindness in our life,In early 80 s there was drought in africa,and one of noble project in usa was to make a human chain across usa ,i went with my two children and my father on interstate 30 in dallas texas,It was touching to soul exp. when all millions of people joined hand s across country singing we are the world,we are the children,others exp. are many when my daugter coming home from school,watching lost puppy,kitten ,will pick her up and bring them home and nurture them with food and love until she found home for them back to neighbours home.every one can not be mother teressa  but everyone can learn from her unconditional love for humaniti.                                     &  See full.

 "some intimate kindness" when 3h ,heart head and hends are in harmony with our true nature,love=compassion and much more human  virtue.weare  blessed to witness many acts of kindness in our life,In early 80 s there was drought in africa,and one of noble project in usa was to make a human chain across usa ,i went with my two children and my father on interstate 30 in dallas texas,It was touching to soul exp. when all millions of people joined hand s across country singing we are the world,we are the children,others exp. are many when my daugter coming home from school,watching lost puppy,kitten ,will pick her up and bring them home and nurture them with food and love until she found home for them back to neighbours home.every one can not be mother teressa  but everyone can learn from her unconditional love for humaniti.                                                                                  life revels to us every moment eternal bliss,grace flows abundantly in compassionate heart.[that loving kind spirit is universal in shri krishna,buddha,Jesus,mohmad paygambar, and many more,and all saints of all cultures,relegion,to love all living thing in creation one is pure compassante toward all ,all, all, always love navin      two thousand years a go shri shankaracharya tought world meaning of scripturs he declered  o menkind three things in life are most precious  is birth in humanform,to know your truself,god,[sanskrit word mumukshu]and find livin saint in ones life time and follow their footsteps with 100 percent surrender your ego to their loving compassanate  spirit . always love navin

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On Aug 23, 2013 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:

 My first impression is "to be born is to be lucky." Not only was I lucky to be born, I was lucky to be born to my particular parents. I was lucky to grow up in a relatively open, creative environment. I'm lucky to be responding to this writing at this moment.. I'm even more lucky to notice that this moment is all there is. Past moments are a present remembrance. Future moments are a present anticipation. This is it. As I was growing up  my parents were intimately kind.  Today, my wife, children, grandchildren and friends are often intimately kind. I experience intimate kindness from others who write responses to awakin.org. I feel intimate kindness from Somik Raha who is responsible for organizing awaken.org. and to  Nipun Mehta and his group at servic space.org. I am lucky to be able to respond and I am lucky to have you reading what I write. I am also lucky to experience every now and then that I am no one going nowhere and that it  is the incomprehensibly  See full.

 My first impression is "to be born is to be lucky." Not only was I lucky to be born, I was lucky to be born to my particular parents. I was lucky to grow up in a relatively open, creative environment. I'm lucky to be responding to this writing at this moment.. I'm even more lucky to notice that this moment is all there is. Past moments are a present remembrance. Future moments are a present anticipation. This is it. As I was growing up  my parents were intimately kind.  Today, my wife, children, grandchildren and friends are often intimately kind. I experience intimate kindness from others who write responses to awakin.org. I feel intimate kindness from Somik Raha who is responsible for organizing awaken.org. and to  Nipun Mehta and his group at servic space.org. I am lucky to be able to respond and I am lucky to have you reading what I write. I am also lucky to experience every now and then that I am no one going nowhere and that it  is the incomprehensibly mysterious, kind universe that is now delivering this message to you. The wave in the ocean are one. Warm and kind regards to everyone

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