Last week I decided to practice harmlessness for one day. Needless to say, I had many moments throughout the day when I forgot all about my practice. I had several others where, having made a comment, I realised it wasn't harmless. But I am finally willing to concede, I'm human!
What was interesting was that, as the day progressed, I began to understand harmlessness in a new way. Initially I thought it was about being harmless to others, to the planet... it wasn't even about being kind, it was just not being thoughtless. Then I noticed the deep kindness, the gentleness that exists at the very heart of harmlessness.
Finally, I noticed that harmlessness is not just about how I treat the world outside myself. It runs to the core of how I treat myself. My thoughts to myself are the antithesis of harmlessness. I am cruel to myself. I am constantly berating myself for not doing better - from what I say to what I eat, nothing escapes my inner critic's caustic attention.
The Dalai Lama notes that if we practice kindness to others, we learn how to be kind to ourselves and if we practices kindness to ourselves, we learn how to be kind to others. It does not matter with whom we start, which is good news for me!
The concept of harmlessness proved so complex that it became my daily intention, to live in harmlessness, for the bulk of the past week. Next week I may pick something easier!