The Company Of Kindness

The Noble Eightfold Path….describes the way to the end your suffering, as it was laid out by Siddhartha Gautama. It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing you from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads you to understanding the truth about all things.

The origin of your suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance of that attachment.
The end of your suffering can be achieved through unmaking sensual craving and conceptual attachment. Suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion.

There is a path to this end – a gradual path of self-improvement, which is the Eightfold Path.
1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

One of the ways to self improvement is in the company we keep… I quote Anne Bronte who wrote in her book Agnes Grey published in 1847…
“Habitual associates are known to exercise great influence over each other’s minds and manners. Those whose actions are forever before our eyes, whose words are ever in our ears will naturally lead us, against our will- slowly- gradually- imperceptibly, perhaps to act and speak as they do. ”

This life is a complex interwoven thing, where over 95% of out actions, our works, our thoughts, are unconscious, perceived after we express them. Looking back on out activities it is easy to see where we went wrong, where we make an ill considered remark, forgot a kindness, neglected a duty.

With this hind sight we can perhaps choose, that old chestnut free will, to not put ourselves in harm’s way and associate if you can with those whom you esteem and if that is not possible then treat the miscreants and detractors in your life at least with the respect you would give yourself.

My favourite book as a child was Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies. The major spiritual leaders in this water world are the fairies Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby and Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid. I think you now understand that my moral compass was formed by principled, fairy tales from a world with very different behaviours from our own. Non the less we do learn by example and we can both be the example and learn by putting ourselves in the company of kindnesses.

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