Over and over, I’m struck by the deep well of tenderness that resides in each of us and how a broken heart puts you squarely in touch with that tenderness, like it or not. I truly believe we are born to respect this tenderness; to be kind and expect kindness. Clearly, the world doesn’t always encourage that, but the moment you extend kindness to another, their own kindness is called forth. Kindness can and will and does change the world.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “my religion is kindness” and it’s not because he’s some kind of wimp. It’s because he knows that this is how to bring peace to our war-torn, aggression-fueled world where people use fundamentalist scare tactics to incite us to be kind only to those who agree with us–and to consider the rest as barely human. This makes me cry pretty much every, single, solitary day of my life.
I just wish we could all be nice to each other is my constant refrain. But how? Especially when there are those who equate “nice” (or decent, kind, humane, tolerant…whatever word you prefer) with sloppy loser-ness? Au contraire, my friends. Real niceness is not sloppy, it is sharp. Because to be genuinely nice, you have to pay very close attention to who and what is around you, otherwise your niceness is according to code and not to whomever is standing in front of you. And loser-y? Far from it, in fact the farthest you can get from it. To be nice (kind, decent, etc) is predicated on opening your heart and letting the world touch you, without agenda and without judgment–and then responding to humanity with humanity. This takes exceptional courage and intelligence. I mean think about it.
So if it’s not about being all oh I’m so nice to everyone I always put myself last, (gag) then what is it about? And how do you do it?
Being nice is much harder than it sounds. Seriously.
Being nice, as Susan points out, is not easy, and it’s not lazy, and it’s not soft. It requires us to be fully present in every moment with every person. Being nice takes warrior heart as Chogyam Trungpa pointed out so often.
The concept of being a warrior is applicable to the most basic situations in our lives-to the fundamental situation that exists before the notion of good or bad ever occurs. The term “warrior” relates to the basic situation of being a human being. The heart of the warrior is this basic aliveness or basic goodness. Such fearless goodness is free from doubt and overcomes any perverted attitudes towards reality.
Being nice requires that we face the world with honesty, with openness, with tenderness toward the hatred, the pain, the suffering we see when we really look, we are truly present. Being nice requires that we do not turn away.
In the warrior tradition, sacred outlook is the brilliant environment created by basic goodness. When we refuse to have any contact with that state of being, when we turn away from basic goodness, then wrong beliefs arise. We come up with all sorts of logics, again and again, so that we don’t have to face the realities of the world.
Beneath all of the pain and fear and suffering in the world is that basic goodness he refers to here, the goodness that is the foundation for who we are as human beings. When we can really face that, be open to it, allow it all to touch our tender hearts, we have no choice but to be good.
So then we may sign The NICE Manifesto.
The NICE Manifesto
Please print (or take a screen shot) and (electronically) sign. Feel free to add more stipulations.
I, ___________________, being of sound(ish) mind and body, do hereby commit to the path of NICE, fully recognizing that NICE could mean any number of things and is not merely (nor will it ever be limited to) exhibiting sweetness. In addition to sweet and depending on circumstance, NICE could require one to be tough, giving, angry, remote, strong, generous, and/or soft.
I know being NICE can change our world into a peaceful one. To demonstrate my commitment, I agree to the following:
1. I recognize that only by being aware in the present moment will I know which kind of NICE to be and so recognize that the path of awareness and the path of NICE are inseparable.
2. I will exhibit extreme good manners, even when no one is watching. Good manners include (but are not limited to) qualities such as friendliness, generosity, patience, discipline, respect, discernment, dressing appropriately, and always, always cleaning up after myself.
3. When encountering those who disagree with me I will continue to view and treat them as human, no matter how barbaric or threatening I may consider their views. This means not wishing they were dead or thinking such things as, “The world would be so awesome were it not for _______ (Sarah Palin, Michael Palin, Islamists, Feitishists, Night fears, Stephen Frears, Darwinians, North Carolinians, Psychiatrists, Physiatrists, Bad drivers, Noisy neighbors, Townies, Junkies, Flunkies, Spelunkers, Circus Buskers, Motherfuckers, People who like Justin Bieber, and so on).
4. I will practice speaking clearly, honestly, and skillfully, which means also knowing when to shut up. When others are speaking, I will not use that time to think of what I will say next, but will instead give myself over to listening completely, fully, and properly.
5. I acknowledge that love is the most important thing in life and vow to give my heart away at the least provocation.
Sign it, post it on your refrigerator, share it with friends and family, repost it around the internet. Maybe we can start of movement of people living with warrior heart, all being nice to every living being. And send the completed forms to Susan.