Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. – The Dalai Lama

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. – Seneca

Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth. – Buddha

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3.

To be kind to everyone, and show forth affection to every living soul. – Abdu’l-Baha

The greatest nobility in the world comes directly from this wonderful advice. So basic it seems simple and so simple it seems almost simplistic, this wise counsel to be kind is the fourth step in Abdu’l-Baha’s six-step process for becoming more spiritual and noble beings:

…if ye will follow the precepts of Baha’u’llah to tend the sick, raise the fallen, care for the poor and needy, give shelter to the destitute, protect the oppressed, comfort the sorrowful and love the world of humanity with all your hearts… Day by day each member will advance and become more and more spiritual. – Paris Talks, pp. 73-74.

Being kind to everyone, and showing affection to every living soul, has enormous benefits. It will open your heart, expand your spirit, give you joy and happiness, and connect you to others in the most profound way. However—it’s not easy.

Of course, we all enjoy being kind and affectionate to those we love and care about. But what about being kind and affectionate to those you don’t know? Or even harder, what about being kind and affectionate to those you don’t particularly like? That’s the hard part. But despite the difficulty, the Baha’i teachings encourage us to show kindness to everyone:

Therefore, my advice to you is, endeavor as much as ye can to show kindness toward all men, deal with perfect love, affection and devotion with all the individuals of humanity. Remove from amongst yourselves racial, patriotic, religious, sectional, political, commercial, industrial and agricultural prejudices, so that you may become freed from all human restrictions and become the founders of the structures of the oneness of the world of humanity. All the countries are one country; all the nations are the children of one Father. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 1, p. 2.

To accomplish this noble task, it helps to learn the language of kindness. That language is universal; understood by all; and needs no translation or explanation. The language of kindness, the Baha’i teachings say, “stands in the relation of ideas to words:”

O friends, consort with all the people of the world with joy and fragrance. If there be to you a word or essence whereof others than you are devoid, communicate it and show it forth in the language of affection and kindness: if it be received and be effective the object is attained, and if not leave it to him, and with regard to him deal not harshly but pray. The language of kindness is the lodestone of hearts and the food of the soul; it stands in the relation of ideas to words, and is as an horizon for the shining of the Sun of Wisdom and Knowledge. – Baha’u’llah, cited by Abdu’l-Baha in A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 43.

Ideas, of course, always precede words. Ideas provide the driving force for all speech. In the same way, the language of kindness gives our hearts and souls a way to show true affection to others, to make love visible. In this passage from the Baha’i writings, Baha’u’llah gives us several guidelines for expressing the language of kindness. First, he asks us to joyously “consort with all the peoples of the world.” Then he suggests paying attention to the emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of others, developing sensitivity and awareness. Finally, he recommends using affection and kindness to communicate those needs, saying that “The language of kindness is the lodestone of hearts and the food of the soul…”

Don’t you feel that way when someone speaks to you in the language of kindness?

Next: Becoming Humble: Who are We that We Should Judge?

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

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