There are a couple of reasons I love the quote on kindness from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama that opens this small group ministry session. One is that I totally agree with the sentiment: there’s “no need for complicated philosophy” when it comes to trying to live our lives in ways that bring more kindness to the world. And two, it reminds me of my all-time favorite words for closing a Unitarian Universalist worship service, “Be Ours a Religion,” by Theodore Parker:

Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere;
its temple, all space;
its shrine, the good heart;
its creed, all truth;
its ritual, works of love;
its profession of faith, divine living.

On my best days, those words (both Parker’s and the Dalai Lama’s) give me a sense of just how all-encompassing a faith—our faith—can be.  At any rate, here’s a small group ministry session on Kindness, based on resources from SpiritualityandPractice.com.

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; my philosophy is kindness.
— The Dalai Lama

Check-in/Sharing

Topic:

A Teaching Story from Buddha of Infinite Light: The Teachings of Shin Buddhism, the Japanese Way of Wisdom and Compassion by D. T. Suzuki

Buddha of Infinite Light by D. T. Suzuki is a commentary on the path of Pure Land Buddhism. Here’s a story from this tradition about kindness.

When a man heard noise coming from his yard, he looked out and saw neighborhood boys climbing up one of the fruit trees in the yard, trying to steal some fruits. So he went out into the yard and placed a ladder underneath the boys in the tree. He then quietly returned to his house. Is this not a stupid thing to do? The boys are stealing his fruits, but the owner does not stop them from committing an unlawful act. This man feared that when the children try to come down the tree, nervous about being caught, they might slip and fall, and hurt themselves. His impulse was to prevent them from being injured, not to save his property from thieves.

Questions: Share a story about a time when you were surprised by someone’s kindness to you.

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

Be kind to people whether they deserve your kindness or not. If your kindness reaches the deserving, good for you; if your kindness reaches the undeserving, take joy in your compassion.
— James Fadiman and Robert Frager in Essential Sufism

To Practice This Thought: Find a way to be kind to an unsuspecting person.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Kindness from www.spiritualityandpractice.com.

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Kindness.

For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.

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