Love Is Patient, Love Is Kind, Unless I Don’t Agree with You, in Which Case, F*ck Off!
I have spent many years of my life studying Buddhism. Its spirituality has always resonated with me. One of the most important lessons to learn in Buddhism is Ahimsa — non-violence towards oneself and others.
While this may seem like a very easy task, I can assure you, it’s not quite as easy as it seems. How often do we pass by another and think to ourselves, “Ugh, she probably shouldn’t be wearing that?” Or look in the mirror and say, “I look ugly today, I’m not going to the party?” See, non-violence is not only physical, but has a mental aspect as well. This goes for all sentient beings.
While I am always entertained by the simplicity of social media, whether it being Ryan Gosling memes or the occasional cat video (okay, it’s more than occasional with me), I am also saddened by all the anger and hate that are so easily displayed and never overwritten (thank you, cheap server disc space).
During my morning Facebook scroll, I came across a post that flat out body-shamed a man for being overweight. Someone, who didn’t even know the man, took the photo and posted it on a vegan chat board just to make fun of him. The man posting it went on to point out that the man in the photo was obese, and was probably this way because he ate meat.
Here’s the kicker: even though this photo was taken in a grocery store, there was zero evidence of what this man’s diet was like.
Remember the Ahimsa reference? Yeah, this is where that information comes into play. I have been an animal rights activist for 27 years. While I’m not vegan, I have seen it all. Most vegans chose their diet because of the compassion they feel for all sentient beings. Let me say that again: because of compassion they feel for all sentient beings!
Yet this individual, regardless of why he chose to be vegan, took it upon himself to make fun of another sentient being, to help boost his own self-esteem and get more likes on his post. Well, long story short, it backfired. His post was bombarded with comments by other people who stuck up up for the man in the photo. But it did bring up an important point: why do we pick and choose whom we are kind to? Aren’t kindness and love unconditional?
We are a society programmed by conditioning. Our lives are one big Pavlov’s dog experiment. When I lose weight, I will love myself. When I get the job I want, I will feel self-worth. When I fall in love, I will feel happy. And last but not least, if I shame someone else, I will somehow feel better about my own insecurities.
No matter what spirituality you practice, the lesson is always the same: treat others as you would like to be treated. Anyone who has ever been on a spiritual journey knows the struggle of treating even the cruelest of people with love and kindness. This concept has been my albatross since I first started studying Buddhism.
How can I possibly extend compassion to someone who is cruel, unkind, been outwardly mean to me, etc.? They don’t deserve it! Kindness and love are saved for people who are kind and loving to me! As an empath, I physically feel the pain of all sentient beings, whether in person, on TV, in a picture, or a comment on social media. So again I will ask, how am I supposed to have compassion towards those who are causing such pain to others?
At first, I thought I would never understand, but the more I looked at the situation from a non-attached outsider’s view, the more I was able to practice my compassion. Cultivating compassion towards others in this way does not excuse the horrible acts they have committed. Please do not ever confuse acceptance with enabling. When we accept another’s actions, we free ourselves from the judgment we carry with it.
Yes, taking a photo without someone else’s consent, and using it to shame them in hopes of raising your own self-worth, is wrong! But, as I looked at it from a holistic view, I saw that the person who posted it was insecure. Something must be lacking in his life, whether it’s self-admiration, true compassion for all sentient beings, or just genuine human kindness. Seeing it through my Buddhist eyes helped me send compassion to this man, whose heart clearly needed it.
What a sad existence it must be, having to be cruel to others in order to make yourself feel better. Looking at things with compassion and love, we are able to cultivate the awareness and acceptance that allows us to separate our heart from our ego.
I do not believe in random acts of kindness, I believe all acts should be based on kindness. We shouldn’t wait for the perfect moment, comment, compliment, etc., to show the world our compassion and kind nature. It is a process to cultivate compassion in this way, but what a rewarding process it is!
I never understood how Jesus could turn the other cheek, but now I do. No matter how hard life may slap you in the face, when you are truly kind and compassionate, you don’t feel the sting as much. And sure, your face may be a little red from the hit, but the only thing anyone will notice is your smile.
Be the change.
Jennifer L. Mezzio is a certified Yoga instructor, energy healer and life coach. In addition, she is a certified nutritionist and bodybuilder. Jennifer believes in the mind-body-spirit connection, and makes it her life’s passion to motivate and inspire others. She is currently in the process of starting a 501(c)(3), which will help raise self-esteem and self-confidence in victims of bullying. Jennifer lives by the mantra “There is no greater gift in life than giving back.” You could contact her via Balanced Wellness and Nutrition.