I recently had to do a social psychology assignment that required me to either be nice or be rude for twenty four hours.  I just could not commit to being rude to people.  I am not saying that I am never rude to people, but not on purpose.  Somehow it feels unethical to be purposely rude to people.  What if my rudeness upset someone enough that they couldn’t focus during driving and got in an accident?  What if I angered someone enough that they engaged in displacement and went home and kicked their dog?  I would feel partially responsible.  Therefore, I was left with the option to be nice to people.  What do I believe “being nice” means?

My definition of ‘being nice’:  communicate with warmth, sincerity, clarity, and truthfulness…listen respectfully…be generous, compassionate and empathetic.  Be mindful of what messages your actions may communicate and cultivate ‘loving- kindness’.

To help me maintain my ‘niceness’ I  practiced a meditation called the Loving-kindness or Metta Bhavana meditation. This included recalling parts of the Metta-sutta (excerpt included below) and focusing my concentration on expanding the compassion and empathy I feel for my loved ones to all beings.  The practice can take many forms, but I prefer to use my imagination to envision compassion and empathy as a colored haze that I direct from my heart to all those beings within my sight and then let that light expand to all those unseen.  It might sound silly, but I have found it to be a very powerful exercise.

The following is a short excerpt from the Metta-sutta, which recounts the Buddha’s teaching on loving-kindness:   “This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness…be able and upright, straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited, contented and easily satisfied… peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing that the wise would later reprove…May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, the great or the mighty, medium, short or small, the seen and the unseen, those living near and far away, those born and to-be-born, May all beings be at ease!”

If you would like to read the full Metta-sutta it can be found online or on page 92 of the following resource:

Levine, N. (2011). The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha’s Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion, and Kindness. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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