Throughout my life I have heard, read and studied about the importance of being a warm and loving human being. Below is one of my favorite quotes.
"More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all. Strive to accumulate the treasures of the heart!" Nichiren Daishonin.
This quote from a Buddhist priest and the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, is one example of how developing our hearts and compassion is more important than accumulating material wealth. This is not unique to Buddhism. Every religion that I’m aware of has a similar tenet. Of course, as in all good deeds, knowing something and practicing it are two different things.
I try to be kind, or at least thoughtful. I open doors for moms with strollers, I let anxious-looking drivers into my lane of traffic, I call friends on their birthdays. This is small stuff, and certainly does not put me on the same page as Mother Teresa, but it’s a step in the right direction. However, I had a recent experience that demonstrated just how powerful a little jolt of love can be.
I was babysitting my two grand daughters. Rosannah is a typical 2-year-old bursting with energy, laced with a tad of toddler defiance. Briannah, at 10 months, has learned to crawl and is hell bent on exploring everywhere her little hands and knees will take her.
It was getting late and I was running out of ideas. I had played games and watched Baby Einstein with my grand daughters and made sure they were clean, fed and diapered. When I have the girls over, they get my complete attention, a luxury most parents can’t afford. But played “peek a boo” so many times that I was too pooped to peek a second longer.
I was lying on the guest bed with the girls. Rosannah was also tired and I was hoping that if we all lay down together she would sleep. It had been a long day for the little two-year-old. She is in a transitional stage in her life. She has some autonomy, but not a lot. And most of the things she wants to do get her in a lot of trouble. She sees her younger sister, still very much a baby who likes to be held, given a bottle, and rocked to sleep. I can imagine that a part of Rosannah wants that, but she probably feels she is too big for such coddling. Even at such a young age I can sense she is torn between being a baby and being a “big girl”.
Of course she talks and sings and can do a lot of things her younger sister cannot, and she gets kudos for it. I have her trained that when I say, “Who’s the greatest!?” she responds with an enthusiastic “Grandma!” She also knows I enjoy hearing her count, sing Old MacDonald has a farm, and laugh at my Donald Duck sneeze. She gets positive feedback for performing, as do adults.
As Rosannah took her “blankie” and curled up in a corner of the bed I looked at the sleepy child. My heart filled with so much love. Briannah was still crawling around the bed, so I had to keep a vigilant watch to keep her from tumbling onto the floor. But in a moment (and it truly was only a moment) I let my heart fill with love and directed it at the sleepy Rosannah as she lay in the bed. I didn’t say anything. I channeled the love I felt and sent it to her like an emerald green laser beam. At that moment, and without prompting from me, she took my hand and brought it up to her heart. I have no doubt she felt my love and responded in kind.
I later thought, “Why am I saving these bursts of love? Why can’t I take a moment, relax and fill my heart with love and send it out to more often? For that matter, why do I have to limit it to members of my family?”
So I began directing little laser beams of love to others. I shoot it out to folks when I stand in line at the grocery store. I transmitted it over the phone to my friend recovering from surgery. I even launched twin lasers of compassion to the couple who sat in front of me at the movie theater (and thankfully they relaxed in their seat and slumped enough that I could see the movie without difficulty.)
I have to admit that I have to take a moment to generate this compassionate energy. My heart responds a little slower than my brain. I have to pause a moment, let my heart fill with love, then zap. Nobody knows I’m doing this. Yet I can tell it has a powerful impact. Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself.
We are facing a tough economic crisis and many of us may not have the time or money to help all the charities and organizations who need our generosity, but all of us can afford to take a moment, relax and send some love out to someone – anyone.
I will end with this great quote from Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.
“How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”