Thursday, July 21, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

I, for some reason, chose to go make groceries in the middle of the day. In this heat. In New Orleans. I r smaert!

There is a point, however. Earlier, I was watching a documentary on the life of the Buddha. I thought it was quite well done, if not a little romanticized, but still touched on all the important points and facets of Buddhist thought.

So, when it ended, it was noon, and I realized I hadn't gone to the store yet. I gathered my bags and money, and set out. Boy, it's hot out there. Sun was at its peak. I started dripping sweat in no time, and grumbling to myself about being so silly, trekking out in this blasted soup of a day.

A truck pulls up next to me as I walk. I'm hailed by the driver. He asks "want a cold water or something?" I am a little stunned at first. He repeats this. I say a huge YES, and am handed what they have left - a red Powerade. I graciously thank the guys in the truck, and renew my walk.

It's not until I get to the store, make my groceries, and leave, that I put the pieces of this encounter together. I pull out the bottle of my red life elixir, and laugh as it all dawns on me. The story.

The story basically goes that the Buddha, not yet the Buddha, just a disillusioned young prince Siddartha, goes to teachers, and endures extreme asceticism, to the point of near starvation, until he just gives up. He isn't receiving any truths, any wisdom, he's just cold, hungry, and in pain. At this point of saying "oh fuck it!", a little girl brings him a bowl of rice porridge. It wasn't until then, when he was fed (by both the food and the girl's kindness, I think), that he found the strength to meditate under the bodhi tree, and discover the Middle Way.

I'm no Buddha (yet ;}), but I found the inspiration to write this blog in a random stranger who saw a hot, thirsty woman trudging along. Kindness. Compassion. That's really it. The little girl didn't see a future sage and founder of a major religion, she saw a hungry man.

I have no idea what I may become, but I want to honor that kindness. Just as I will do my best to offer random kindness to the next person in need I see - that person could be a buddha too! Or just a fellow sibling in the human family, which is honestly quite enough.


  1. The Bodhisattva practices charity without regard to appearances. ;)

  2. That was very cool! (literally ;) )

  3. I loved your story! It's always good to be reminded that there are such considerate people out there.

    Something similar happened to me once.... I was waiting at a bus stop and it was pouring cold spring rain. (I, of course, was wearing nothing but a T-shirt and slacks. Go me.) As I was waiting, a car pulled over and a young woman jumped out, ran over to me, and offered me an umbrella. Being a polite Minnesotan, I try to decline, but she said that I needed it more and shoved the thing in my hands before running back to her car and speeding off.

    It's things like that which restore one's faith in humanity. I'll certainly never forget that woman.