Cruel to be Kind

We have spent some time this month talking about kindness at Yogawood. This has arisen from the theme of the month, drawn from a sloka from the Bhagavad Gita, which reads:

samniyama-indriya-gramam / sarvatra sama-buddhayah
te prapnuvanti mam eva / sarva-bhuta-hite ratah
Those who are able to control their senses, have equanimity of mind and rejoice in contributing to the welfare of all creatures are dear to me.
Bhagavad Gita XII.4

As we talked about this, my teacher, Beth, noted that kind and nice are not the same, and it reminded me of how often I think about this in my yoga practice, and in my life.

Being nice is often easy, but being kind is more complicated, because the kindest thing to do for another being may well not be the nicest. This holds true for the small moments in life (Does this eyeshadow look ok? Do I have to eat my vegetables?) and the major decisions (Should I quit my job to follow the band?), and everything in between. Sometimes, what we need from another, or even from the self that is the voice in our own heads, is to be told that the nice choice is the wrong choice.

This comes up often in parenting. There are so many times when it would be nice to give in, but that isn’t the kindest choice. It comes up in managing others, when you see bad options or behavior and have to ‘be mean’ and shut it down. It comes up in asana practice when bed is warm but you should go to class, or it would feel nice to take an hour long asana, but it isn’t the best choice.

Photo by Deb Roby on Flickr

Photo by Deb Roby on Flickr

When it’s not possible to be kind and nice, we can still strive for kind.