Today is my Hebrew birthday, the 23rd of Virgo. I’m not telling you this because I need everyone to know it’s my birthday, but rather it’s a great opportunity to connect with others on a day I feel greatly connected to. People always ask, ‘what would you like for your birthday?’, and this question got me thinking. I really wanted nothing of the physical or material world, rather my birthday wish is for everyone to have a year where we set aside our judgment and show true kindness to each other, that we give the people in our lives the benefit of the doubt, and that we treat each other with respect and human dignity rather than using others as a means to our own end. I want this to be a year of openhandedness.
Openhanded like a slap? Not quite what I meant, but sure, yes! Wake up!
What I mean by openhanded comes from this verse in the Zohar:
“If you find that there will be a man in need in any one of your cities and where you live, it says do not harden your heart, do not close your hand, but rather you should open your hand.”
It means simply: give and you will receive blessings. The Zohar goes on to say that there is nothing worse than somebody who does not want to share. Let that sink in and really think about that, there is NOTHING worse than holding back sharing. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for such a person comes from the word to clench, as in a clenched fist. Usually, all of us have a desire to share, but maybe just not right now — tomorrow or next week. We all want to give but perhaps not to THAT person. I’ll share later when it’s more comfortable, we might think. Those are all examples of a clenched hand, of our desire to NOT share.
What is the key to an open hand instead of a stingy clenched hand? I am even reluctant to say the word because it is one we all know and probably think we have already mastered – especially if you consider yourself spiritual. That word is kindness.
To truly transform and draw all the blessings you would ever want, focus on kindness. Make kindness the purpose of your life. Simple (not really!)
You’re all thinking, ‘but wait, we are all kind people (for the most part). Sometimes more than others, certainly, but generally, I’m kind!’ I bring you sad news, there is a great distance between where you are and where you need to be when it comes to kindness.
When we talk about kindness I think we often confuse it with the word give. Sharing and kindness can and often are two completely different things. We all are aware of the fact that I can give somebody something and have a clenched heart, a complete lack of desire or at least no great desire to share. It is dangerous to confuse our spiritual progress with sharing more or with giving more because those things can occur without an internal change.
Then if being kind isn’t about sharing,what does it mean to be a kind person? It means that by nature when the choice comes between clenching and opening, your natural desire is to open. Every aspect of pain comes from one source: the clenched fist. Every time you have a choice to open your hand, do it! Even if it isn’t the best time, even if it means giving more than you are comfortable giving, even if that person doesn’t necessarily merit your kindness at the moment (as you see it). We pass up hundreds of opportunities to share every day. It’s true! We have opportunities for sharing everywhere we look, think about your day today, there must have been at least four or five times today alone that you consciously decided not to share.
Our transformation and purpose of our lives isn’t to be good, or even to give (because we all know we can give with a clenched heart) but it’s to become truly kind and to live openhandedly. The kabbalists teach that this is really the purpose of our lives.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Be mindful of opportunities for kindness today. Don’t turn from chances to help and monitor your reaction to the people in your life. Are you openhanded, or are you withholding of your time, affections, love or aid?
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