Be the Light

Recently, on a trip to week-long visit my Teacher at Chuang Yen Monastery in New York State, I took a day to visit with some friends in Stamford, CT.  It was so wonderful to visit with them and to visit some of my favorite places.  During our visit, one of my dear friends announced that she had something rather serious to talk to me about.  The look on her face was concerning.  As she began, I could tell that she had to have struggled with whether to tell me what she was about to tell me.
It’s come to my attention that several of your old friends have been calling you a bully, they are accusing you of bullying them.
I was shocked, and didn’t really know what to say.  I didn’t know what to think.  I didn’t know how to feel.  This news was particularly disturbing given the work I do with Upasanti Village and the the adult bullies that torture children mentally, physically, financially, verbally, sexually.  I was stunned and my friends were angry.  Such derogatory language, defamation and name-calling are not behaviors we are accustomed to among friends.
Upon my return to CYM, I explained what had happened to my Teacher, Bhikkhu Bodhi.  “These are people with small minds, small worlds and even smaller hearts.  All we can do is wish them well and learn how not to be in our own lives.  We learn how to make this world a better place, and by recognizing how we do not want to be, we grow into who we want to be. Full of compassion, empathy and joy.”  His words helped settle my heart and I was able to dismiss the comment as nothing more than people who are stuck in life….stuck in the same cycles their own misery. And as we all know, misery loves company.
Instead of hurtful words, be the light.  Share a compliment or don’t say anything at all.
A well-placed kind word has the power to make someone feel seen, that they matter, and that you care.
Try and recall the last time you received a compliment. Maybe it was from a stranger at the grocery store who told you they liked your sweater. Perhaps it was a friend who let you know how much they appreciate your advice. Regardless of the source, you probably felt a lift, a boost of self-confidence… may even have put a smile on your face.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Put quite simply, compliments make us feel good, both when we get them and when we give them. They’re an expression of gratitude that elevates both the giver and the receiver…..a form of awareness, a way of paying attention. It costs us nothing to give someone a compliment, but the rewards can be great.