Something Nice for Somebody Else
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted ~ Aesop
In this CNN video clip, David, a Portland Oregon man, surprises people at a Chevron gas station and offers to pay for their gas when they stop to fill their tanks. He selects his target cars almost at random and tells his amazed recipients: “Just do something nice for somebody else”.
David speaks of the feeling of joy of he gets from giving. He says it’s because other people have paid forward to him, that he has good fortune in his life now. And he wants to share it with everyone…
The meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein describes how the Buddha speaks of three levels of generosity:
“He called the first beggarly giving – we give the worst of what we have, what we don’t want, the leftovers. Even then, we have a lot of doubt: “Should I give it? Shouldn’t I? Next year I’ll probably have a use for it.”
“The next level is friendly giving – we give what we would use for ourselves, and we give it with more spontaneity and ease, with more joy in the mind.
“The highest kind of generosity is queenly or kingly giving. The mind takes delight in offering the best of what we have, giving what we value most. This is the perfection of generosity.”
In Buddhism this all fits together. Generosity gives rise to joy, joy gives rise to calm, and the mind that is calm is filled with ease, and settles readily into meditation. From meditation can come wisdom and deep understanding.
The Buddha places great emphasis on generosity because of this. It’s the first step on the spiritual path, and indeed all religions teach the value of generosity.
Finding joy in the happiness of others is known in Buddhism as “Mudita”.
So an act of generosity can be a blessing not only for the giver and for the receiver, but can also inspire good feelings in people who see it happening.
It’s also contagious – as we see in this clip…
“In 1982, California peace activist Ann Herbert wrote on a place-mat at a restaurant “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” A fellow diner was impressed by these words, and wrote them down. Gradually they spread and inspired conversation and thought. This international bestseller greatly accelerated the process. Today there is a World Kindness Movement and many organizations spreading the concept of kindness throughout our country…
The concept of random acts of kindness is an antidote to the concept of random acts of violence. Random acts of kindness are far more common than random acts of violence, and the more they are encouraged, the more they should dominate.
Random acts of kindness can be as simple as talking to strangers, as inconspicuous as allowing people in a hurry to get ahead of you in line, as generous as doing unsolicited chores for people in need, as philanthropic as paying for a stranger’s dinner or sending books to a sick child. Named a USA Today Best Bet for Educators, this is a book that encourages grace through the smallest gestures. The inspiration for the kindness movement, Random Acts of Kindness is an antidote for a weary world. Its true stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity, inspire readers to live more compassionately.” Amazon review