Two lions walk into a bar . . . no, that is not this story.
Two lions are playing golf when a flock of sheep walk across the golf course grazing . . . no that is not this story either.
Once in another time and place which is sometime and some place, there was a lion who was wandering across the lands when she came upon a flock of sheep meandering and grazing in a small pasture. As the lion looked over the heard, sizing them up to decide which of them would be supper for herself and her cubs she noticed that there was another lion about. But this other lion was lazing in the middle of the sheep.
This other lion grew up with the sheep since it had been a small cub. It would bleat like the sheep and run about in the pasture like the sheep. Our lion went right for this strange aberration of a lion, and when the sheepish lion stood before the feral lion his entire body and being began to tremble and shake. He had never seen such a magnificent and ferocious creature. The feral lion asked the sheepish lion, “what are you doing here in the middle of these sheep?” The sheepish lion was perplexed and replied, “I am a sheep.” “No, you are not! You are a lion. Come with me.” And the feral lion lead the sheepish lion to a pool, where the two lions stood shoulder to shoulder next to each other. “Look” commanded the feral lion. When the sheepish lion saw his reflection in the water he let out a thunderous roar, and in that moment he was transformed. And he was never the same again.
This is another Anthony deMello story. deMello tells the story as an example of awakening to awareness, and how sometimes that awakening is an all of a sudden ‘ah ha!’ kind of experience. And there are moments like that. Transformative moments that shake us, or somehow touch us at the core of our being, kind of like someone finally turned the lights on – I was blind (or thought I was) and now I see. And, I suspect working for social justice and human rights can be a lot like that too in some ways. When you are working for human rights – building protections for people so that things that should never be done to them (like torture, kidnapping, murder, false imprisonment, etc) are never done to them; so that the things that should be accessible to everyone are accessible to them (like food, clothing, safety and security, etc); and so that groups can be groups in their own particular way as long as they respect other groups rights – well, when you focus on those big things, it can get overwhelming. And then, there are these ‘ah ha’ moments when you realize that “yes, we need to think globally, but we must act locally.” And on a local level it is all in the details. And finding and respecting the core of our basic human nature is a pretty important detail. Today, for me, its kindness.
Kindness? Please! Just how important is kindness? As I thought about that, I remembered a story about Hillel, who took a bet that he could not summarize the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel smiled and said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to others. All else is commentary.” Sounds like a description of kindness to me. And then there was Jesus who summarized all of the law by saying, “Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That sounds like kindness too! And then the Buddha who taught, “hate can never dispel hate, only love can dispel hate.” That sounds like pretty powerful kindness to me.
So, today, this day, let’s all look at ourselves in a pool of clear fresh water and see the kind beings that we inherently are. And let’s go share that kindness with each other. Let’s lead each other to seeing ourselves and each other in the water of kindness, and maybe even pause and lap it up together.