Kindness Softens the Human Heart


By Nayaswami Dharmadevi Romano
July 10, 2018

This past weekend I watched “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” an inspiring documentary on the life of Fred Rogers (well known for his children’s show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”). I was deeply touched by his life story and especially how he connected with children in a meaningful and uplifting way. Children were drawn to him like a magnet, not because he wore a goofy hat, dressed up, made jokes, or did magic tricks, but because he sincerely cared for them. He created a space for children to feel safe, loved, and accepted for who they are. The kindness he exuded was powerful.

Someone once asked Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda, “What is your legacy?” One might have expected Swamiji to acknowledge the nine intentional communities he started around the globe… or the 400 pieces of music he dedicated to the Divine… or the 150 inspirational books he wrote, sharing the teachings of his great guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. Rather, he simply replied, “Kindness.”

Certainly, for all who attempt to attune to Yoganandaji, Jesus Christ, Buddha, or any great master, kindness should be uppermost in our minds. It doesn’t mean we will be perfect instruments for kindness at all times – we are works in progress, which is why we have to practice kindness and acceptance to ourselves as well!

One way I’m experimenting with practicing kindness is by visualizing everyone, including myself, as a baby. Even when a baby is naughty, it is hard to get upset with it and probably next to impossible to hold a grudge against it. Mr. Rogers was so successful in connecting with young children because he remembered being a child himself and how he felt in those vulnerable years.

Try to remember as far back as you can in your childhood. What brought you joy? What made you sad? What made you scared? What made you feel free? Those answers will help you understand what everyone else in the world is going through. We are all children in the eyes of God. He loves us all equally and unconditionally. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters, though we’ve had different upbringings in a sense, we’ve all suffered and felt happiness; we’ve all gone through the ups and downs of life, and we are all seeking joy.

When you see one of your brothers or sisters throwing a “temper tantrum,” try for this week to open your heart and offer a little kindness to him or her. As Swamiji says in his song, Shawl of Gold, “For it’s kindness softens the human heart.” And in softening our hearts, we make way for God’s Love to flow in unobstructed.


Shawl of Gold


Comments 11

  1. I needed that, in this Cosmic Motion Picture Show it is easy at times to be bogged down in that delusive state of judgment, that is a great visual that I will utilize are we not all babes in God’s eyes a person like me needs visual solutions times, the baby works for me

  2. p.s. (Never invite an Aquarian to comment.) I forgot my first intention, to say how closely the kindness that Fred Rogers expressed (we saw the movie last weekend) mirrors the kindness that the teachers in the Living Wisdom Schools express toward the children in their charge, and how unrelentingly they work to cultivate a caring, kind environment in which the kids can be free to learn. We’re in the process of publishing a second book about the LWS in Palo Alto. It’s called Happiness & Success at School. You-all in LA will get an email when it’s available to order. The title says it all.

  3. Thank you, Dharmadevi. I can well believe that Swamiji valued kindness above his outward works – but still, it’s thought-provoking that he would say so. I remember, in my early days at Ananda Village in the 1970s, how Divine Mother unfailingly rewarded kindness with touches of Her love, and how equally unfailingly She would discipline us if we ever let our kindness slip. I’ve been amazed in my 50 years on the path to see how lovingly She responds when we ask Her to fill our hearts with Her kindness and compassion and mercy.

  4. Thank you, Dharmadevi! Such an important reminder for me. Thank you for your demonstrations of simple kindness, they are so appreciated.

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