We all know about the kindness and have experienced the kindness, we all have such a level of kindness within us and know how to enhance that kindness. Before we go to those things, let’s talk a bit about “what the kindness really is?”, and to understand the kindness, maybe we try to understand through the way of meditation. So, let’s do a short meditation on the kindness that you receive in your personal life, because, by reflecting on individual, it can be a bit effective.

So, let’s do one short session of meditation: reflecting on what is the meaning of kindness and where is the kindness, is it in the hands, is it in the heart, is it in the mind, is it in the gene? So, first, let’s try to understand what we think when we come to the meaning of kindness.

What the kindness really is.

In Buddhism, the kindness is not something which is related to materialistic things. Yes, you can say that is the act of kindness when somebody gives some materialistic things to others, that’s right, but the actual kindness does not need to be involved physically. Also, kindness does not need to be something that have to do giving something physical, giving some external things or giving some materialistic things; kindness is also not something that only few people have. Kindness is something that each and every sentient being has within their heart, but the level of kindness is strong or not depending on individual. If somebody says if the kindness is a feeling, it’s not a feeling. Somebody says if the kindness is a sort of love, it’s a little bit related but it’s not a love.

Then, how the kindness is? What the kindness really is? In Tibetan we use the word ‘ཕན་སེམས’ [phan sem], so the kindness is more like a desire, the kindness is more like a wish. Again, when we come to the word “desire”, many people mistake that it is something negative. Many books translated the grasping mind, the attachment as a sort of desire. So, the desire does not necessary to be something negative, the desire can be positive which can be negative. Those desire which are positive, for example, desire to achieve happiness, desire to achieve Nirvana, desire to achieve the state of Buddhahood, desire to help others or support those who need.

So here, when you come to the desire to help others, that’s actually what the kindness is, the act of kindness is a difference. The kindness can be manifested in physically and verbally, but the actual kindness is something in our mind. If somebody asks you to practice a kindness, then there is no need you are a billionaire or a millionaire, even if you have nothing in your hands but still, if you desire to help others. Even a beggar, if a beggar thinks “If I’m possible, if I have, if I’m capable in future, I would like to help all the beings who are suffering and hungry, who are in need”. So, that desire is the kindness, and that person is practicing kindness.

To practice the kindness is just have to activate the desire to help others, so, it’s nothing to do with materialistic things. Supposed you sleep today and you wish to help someone tomorrow, so your practicing kindness is from now – from the first moment of your thought of helping other. When you have a desire to help others, you are practicing kindness from that moment, even if you cannot give tomorrow for some reasons, you are still practice kindness since last night.

Now, the kindness can be manifest in few ways as I said. One of the ways the kindness can be express is verbal – you can help someone with advices, you can help someone by teaching what you know in any skills, you can talk someone nicely and politely, or communicate in a very respectful way. So, all those are kindness through the speech.

There is also a kindness with the physical, so, you are helping someone, or giving something for someone – any materialistic thing, or you teach some people some skills or any knowledge, that is also kindness in the physical act.

Again, above of that, in many ways, it’s the kindness of time, you give time to someone, you give respect to someone, you consider someone’s opinion by listening to them. These are also some of the acts, the manifest/ manner in a verbal or physical action of the kindness.

So, these are very important, and in our life we receive such an amount of kindness, and also we have been kind to others. Aware of that, sometime you can just have the meditation of the mindfulness, meditation on the kindness, that can really help you to know what you have been doing, to know ourselves if there is a mistake. It’s very important to try to know that, when we know the mistake, then you can able to solve or correct it. If you do not understand or do not know the mistake, you cannot correct it. Also, if you do something good, you need to be aware of that. The reason why you need to be aware of that, if we have done something good, if we rejoice our all actions, it will inspire ourselves to be more kind.

The kindness received from others

Now, let’s try to meditate of the mindfulness, meditation on the kindness that you have received from others. You can go from the beginning, the kindness you have received from your father, mother, grandparent, great grandparent, the people living around, classmates, your friends, sister, brother, the kindness of the teachers – because of which you can speak English or got the job…Whatever quality you have in your life is because of somebody’s kindness. There is always someone out there to which we have to depend to receive whatever we have in this life. We’re born as a human to have this practice because you had this practice in the past lives, there is also possible to the kindness of somebody else. So in this life, you may count around hundred people who have been kind, because of which you have, what you have.

But to understand that the very life that you have, the fact that you have capable, you are able to think, we are not like animal, that the human is much more intelligent, so the human rebirth is also because of practice the kindness to others; and also think about the kindness of your parents, relatives, family members; the kindness of people who are working day and night in the factory to make our clothes; the kindness of people who plant the trees so that we have the oxygen to breathe; the kindness of all those people who plant flowers and trees into this world, because of this, we get and experience a lovely and wonderful world.

So, let’s meditate a bit on this, just reflecting on the kindness of others toward you, the amount of kindness from whom you receive. Without such an amount of that kindness, there is no way that we can survive for few days: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the house in which we live, the chair on which we seat, the physical body that we have – all come from the kindness of somebody else. Without someone’s kindness, there is nothing that we use in our day to day’s life, and also the reason why we have the proper fingers which is in use, we have a proper body, we can see, we can hear – all these because of kindness of others. If our parents did not take care of us for 24 hours, we surely kill ourselves when we are young by eating whatever come to our hands; without the kindness of our parents, we surely will not be looking like we are look now.

So, all the kindness that we receive from others make this life meaningful, make this life a loveable time, a loveable opportunity. All the kindness that we receive from others make we are happy and get to experience a nice time, we may also achieve a human rebirth and very nice results in future, all because of the kindness of others. By understanding the kindness of others, it’s very important to be humble, not to have the ego, not to have jealous toward others, because without the kindness of others, no way we can survive. This is very important to contemplate time to time, think about this, meditate and reflect on this point.

The kindness given to others.

Now, one another point. Let’s reflect, let’s meditate a bit on the way if we have been kind to others, the amount of kindness that we have shown to others. How kind have we been in our life, to whom we have been kind? Even if we drink a water, but if we know it, we are literally feeding a thousand of micro beings which live within our body, so the food we eat, the water we drink, all these are the act of kindness toward others. Some of you may have a child, so each and every action/breath you do/take is to help those kids. If you have a family, you must have spent thousand of hours of love and care toward your family members. You have spent your precious time for others, that’s also kindness. If you are working in some office, you must have done many volunteer works, these are also kindness. You must have helped many people when they are suffering, you listen some people who are really need it, you must have helped many insects when you are young or help your friends when they are in need…

So, try to reflect, how many opportunities that you had to change somebody’s life into something better? How many opportunities that you took, how many people are there in this world in whom life you literally make a bit change in difference? Your existence in this world, how much it has benefit to others with the kindness? So, let’s contemplate and a short mindfulness meditation on that.

If you are a very kind person, maybe you have thousands of hours of mindfulness meditation which you can do on this subject when you come to how kind have you been toward your family, friends, toward the children you have, toward others…

And, at the same time, there are many ways that we might have been kind. You have been feeding all the beings in our body everyday, that’s also a wonderful practice of kindness, if you are aware of that. You might plant flowers, through that many bees surviving, they get the food by the flowers you plant. You might plant some trees, because of which the whole world has experienced the oxygen. Besides, you might have shared a piece of your knowledge in any internet platform, so that knowledge might bring some possibility in somebody’s life. You might have shared the general Buddhist advices to others so that might change somebody’s life. Somebody maybe had a better and happy life because of your actions.

It’s very important to reflect and to think, the world that we live now, each and every kindness of each and every individual count. Your kindness, your piece of action, just a small intention, a desire to help someone, all these making this world a better place to live.

We talk about kindness, we talk about happiness, as a Buddhist practitioner, you always prayer that everybody happy and be free from suffering. Even to have such a motivation and intention, even to think that for a second, help this world to be a happier place to live. Your small act of kindness can help someone to live a happier life, your piece of advice can avoid someone from the suicide or change somebody’s life into something very meaningful.

So, it’s very important to reflect and to think on what are the other’s possibility. Many people think that they have to be rich to be kind or must do much things to practice kindness. But, you may not be rich, but you have precious time that itself is a most beautiful, most expensive, most valuable offering, most valuable thing that you can share toward others as an act of kindness.

There are many people who just do not have the knowledge that you have, so, if your knowledge is helping you to get a job, your knowledge also can help somebody to get a job. If your piece of knowledge on Buddhism helps you to be a bit happier, that piece of knowledge that you have can also make somebody happy. Never ever think that you should be a Buddhist scholar to teach Buddhist teachings. Never think that you should be knowledgeable in Buddhism to teach some Buddhism to others. Remember that you learn your mother tongue not from a scholar, but from your friends, you learn your mother tongue not from some experts but your own parent. When you were born, your parents might not be expert in your own language, but they are the one from whom you learn the language that you are confident to speak. So, you do not need to be expert in things to share what you know to others, instead of saying, this is what Buddha said, you can say that, this is what I receive as a Buddha teaching from my teacher, this is what I understood in Buddhism. If your knowledge of Buddhism helps you, it can also help others. You may not get a chance to share this to many people but at least you can share to your friends, to most beloved parent and children that you have. If this can bring peace to you, it also can bring peace to other’s life. This is very much value to others.


I would strongly recommend all of you practice this mindfulness meditation that we go through today:

  1. Just think about kindness for few minutes.
  2. Then think about kindness that you received from others.
  3. Think about the kindness that you have given to others, that you have shown to others.

Reflect to: What are the other’s possibility? that’s also important. How can I practice kindness toward others? What are the options for me? What is my capability? [four angles of reflection]

Remember that each and every of us has our own knowledge, we all have specialty in something, everybody is good in something else. We just need to share that to others like you are benefited by what you have in some of skills, you can also benefit others.

So, when you think about these three things above, these three things will inspire you, then you can also think about: “What kind of kindness I can practice, what I can do and share for others, how I can contribute something to others?”. You need to give something, you may not have a chance to give in future, but just have the desire to help others, it is the practice of kindness.

When you try to find what you can do for the society, “what I can do for others?” – just plant more flowers outside, that is something that anybody can do, base on these flowers, the bees can live; because of the bees, all these flowers do not drop and trees give fruits – all these are possible because of the bees, tree survival depends on the bees and flowers. So, you may not be able to do something big, you can at least plant a small flower or a small tree, the amount of oxygen that the tree produced in the whole life can literally save many people and many lives.

I would like to request all of you to reflect on this kindness from these four angles, it is very much effective. When you get to understand, then you get to appreciate your own life, then you see the kindness of other people, then you are able to see the beautiful who literally involved to make your life better. This literally enlightens us and awake us. This kind of mindfulness literally make our virtue. Doesn’t matter how old are you, 20 – 30 – 40, you may not feel like you are old enough, but your mind will be more mature.

So, this practice is quite very effective and I really would recommend all of you to practice this kindness. This costs nothing, just having a desire to help someone – this is the first step. If you do not have a desire, then your body and speech will not act accordingly. If you have a desire to help others, then your body and speech will act accordingly. That why people do what we need./.

Vì vậy, thực hành này khá hiệu quả và tôi thực sự muốn khuyên tất cả các bạn thực hành về lòng tốt này. Điều này không tốn kém gì, chỉ cần có sự mong muốn giúp đỡ ai đó – đây là bước đầu tiên. Nếu bạn không có sự mong muốn, thì thân và khẩu của bạn sẽ không hành động tương ứng. Nếu bạn có mong muốn giúp đỡ người khác, thì thân và khẩu của bạn sẽ hành động theo đó. Đó là lý do tại sao mọi người làm những gì chúng ta cần. /.


Q: Can we say that kindness is kind of a manifestation of the Buddhahood?

A: I would say that everybody has the kindness within themselves, doesn’t matter it is big or small. The kindness is something that everyone has in their heart. So that kindness is possible, it is, the kindness, there because we have the nature of Buddha, we have the capability to enhance and increase and progress our mind to the mind of Buddha. So, all the negative emotions -selfishness and stinginess, these two are the real counterpart of the kindness. When the kindness activates, the selfishness and stinginess go down. So these two are not the nature of our mind. The nature of our mind is pure, free from any negative emotion, free from all the afflicting emotions, so the kindness is one of the real of our mind. Because we have the Buddha nature, kindness is possible.

From Dharma Talk by Lama Nawang Kunphel.