“Namaste”, said the 6-foot Sikh man standing outside the front door of our hotel. He was wearing traditional Indian clothes and a turban, as he bowed his head to me with his hands folded in a prayer position. He was greeting me, a total stranger this way, because “Guest is god”. It means, ‘I honor your True Nature with my True Nature’. The sincere kindness that permeated from his heart into mine was palpable and brought tears to my eyes. He was as masculine as they come, yet what I felt from him in that moment was a purity of kindness and respect, as if from a mother. It was a sort of kindness that is rare in the West. My trip to India in 2017 was infused with a depth of kindness I also observed among people interacting in ordinary ways with one another. There, being kind is the way people live. It permeates relationships. In the East, beauty, love, reciprocity, community and relatedness are a core value.
In the West, ‘acts of kindness’ are a special way to behave towards another. In fact, the book, “Random Acts of Kindness’ was most popular in the 90’s. Its success ‘not only inspired many individuals, but also led Congress to declare a National Random Acts of Kindness Week in February 1995’. It is difficult to comprehend that kindness needs to be a learned or designated way to behave. That it can actually be learned from a book. Is this because being kind is not the norm? In our society, I feel it is seen as something we ‘do’ rather than ‘are’. The lack of kindness is sadly normalized in our society. We see this amplified in corporations and particularly in health care systems, where being kind to patients is considered a sign of weakness.
In the East, being kind is synonymous with living from Soul. Jung termed the Soul/Self, the deeper, wiser, more divine aspect of who we are. It is our essence, our True Nature. Living from the Self in the East is termed, living from ‘dharma’. Dharma implies we live from Soul, behaving towards others with empathy and kindness.
When we live without relatedness, we cannot access empathy. In fact, kindness is difficult to access without relatedness. In the East, people experience soulfulness through relationships. Without relatedness in relationships, we lack meaning, community and a sense of belonging. Relationships help us experience the depth and dimensionality of our life experience. Without them, we feel empty. If we do not value relatedness, we cannot align with our True Nature. Without a sense of belonging, we feel isolated and depressed. Of course we have an epidemic of this in our society.
When we live from dharma, we live from Soul, empathy and kindness. We have not normalized these as values. Could it be that our material values have displaced our relational values? Or maybe we have normalized technological communication via email and texting as a substitute for real interaction? These substitutes of convenience deprive us from truly experiencing one another.
There is no substitute for human to human interaction.
Our True Nature cannot be shared unless we are present with each other. This makes us feel vulnerable yet authentic. Our vulnerability helps us access empathy and kindness. It also inspires authenticity. This is a way for us to live from kindness rather than merely do ‘kind things’.
So next time you are in another’s presence, (even a stranger’s), align with your heart and treat them with kindness. Offer them a Namaste if only in your mind. Notice how sacred this feels. Notice what rises up from your heart towards the other. I promise you it will create a healing presence for both.
Since we are in the season of reflection and gifting, it may be worth reflecting on what it would mean to live from your heart, mostly. Gifting another with our True Nature is truly the greatest gift of all.
©December2022, December2019 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife (2nd Edition), Medial Press, 2014. Dr. Kumar is currently accepting new patients. Call 262.695.5311 for an appointment, either virtual or in-person for those free of symptoms.