September 03, 2009
Loving-kindness guru Sharon Salzberg points us via Twitter to an Ode article about Italian psychotherapist Piero Ferrucci, who tells us that happiness and freedom start with being kind:
The most sensible way to look after our own self-interest, to find freedom and be happy, is not to directly pursue these things but to give priority to the interests of others. Help others to become free of their fear and pain. Contribute to their happiness. It’s all really very simple. You don’t have to choose between being kind to yourself and others. It’s one and the same.
And in his book Survival of the Kindest, Ferrucci writes:
People who are suffering don’t need advice, diagnoses, interpretations and interventions. They need sincere and complete empathy—attention. Once they have the feeling that the other person is putting themselves in their shoes, they are able to let go of their suffering and head down the path of healing. Attention—being completely available—may well be the most coveted gift. We silently hope that someone will want to do that for us. Pure attention is given without judgement and without advice. Attention is a type of friendliness and the lack thereof is the worst kind of rudeness. Attention is the means that allows us to let friendliness flow. Anyone who can’t give others attention, will never be friendly. Attention gives energy, while the lack of attention takes it away.
Sharon passes along a question Mind & Life poses—also via Twitter: "Is it possible to be kind ... all the time?"
The person I can think of that comes closest to round-the-clock decency is the happiness expert himself, the 14th Dalai Lama, who wrote the introduction to Ferrucci's book.