Several years ago I read a book called The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach, which lays out several important Tibetan Buddhist teachings. One of those is kindness.
At the root of kindness in Buddhism is the idea that kindness spreads. A smile to a stranger on the street can result in the stranger passing on that smile to another stranger. Kindness has a harmonic resonance that benefits both the giver and the receiver…all the way to the cellular level of the body.
After reading the book, I became very mindful of kindness and sought out ways to be kind: opening doors for others, pausing to say something kind rather than something flippant or judgmental, spending more time listening to others rather than talking. Then I wanted to do more, so I started buying food for the local food bank every week, a practice I still maintain two years later. I became a secret Santa, walking into department stores like K-Mart and paying off lay-aways at Christmas.
I discovered quickly that being mindful of kindness every day is not easy. Old habits die hard, and if I’m feeling stressed, the thought of kindness doesn’t automatically float into my thoughts. Sometimes I have knee-jerk unkind thoughts, make hasty judgments about people, say unkind things.
As I began to incorporate thoughts of kindness and acts of kindness into my life, I came up with an idea to form a business entity called Seeds for Kindness. Everyone at BioStar thought it was a wonderful idea…however none of us had any vision as to what Seeds for Kindness would actually do. I tucked it away and figured that perhaps one day I would have a vision of how to spread more kindness.
Inspired by Alaska
In August 2017, I took a trip to the southern region of Alaska: Homer and Kachemak Bay. It sounds dramatic, but that trip changed me. From the simple act of pulling a plastic water bottle out of the otherwise pristine bay, to kayaking among the otters and seals, to flying by sea plane into Katmai to watch the Alaskan brown bears on the salmon run, to sitting in a wilderness camp looking out onto the far glaciers, hearing the bald eagles cry, smelling and breathing the wilderness.
I was technologically disconnected: no cell, no WIFI, no TV or radio, which allowed me to reconnect with the real essence of our world: sky, wind, ocean, mountains, animals, fish, birds, trees, plants, and stones. At night I would sit outside my cabin and simply listen and feel the forest and the sea; I was a part of the natural world, no longer a spectator.
As one Alaskan said to me: “In Alaska the wilderness surrounds the people; in the lower forty-eight the people surround the wilderness.”
I came home from Alaska and shortly thereafter awoke one morning with a powerful sense of urgency: I have to do more for the environment. I have to do more for Mother Earth.
In several short hours, a vision had formed: an online company that represents independent producers and artists who are environmentally conscious, transparent, and socially responsible to their employees and communities. Regional artists and small companies not well known, not sold on Amazon or advertised in social media. Products and art pieces would rotate, almost like a flash sale, so that new small companies and artists could be showcased. And profits from the online company would be donated to environmental charities.
Seeds for Kindness
Our new company is Seeds for Kindness, and we’re launching in November! Although Seeds for Kindness is a separate company, it is still part of BioStar. When you purchase from Seeds for Kindness, you’re contributing to the environmental charity chosen by the individual artist or participating producer. Your purchase is a seed of kindness that will spread…to take on environmental challenges faced all over the globe, and work for the wellness of our oceans, air, rivers, forests, animals, and sustainable communities.
It’s sad to me that environmentalism has become politicized, because fundamentally we all share the same planet, want clean water, clean air, clean oceans, deep forests, and wild places for animals to live and for humans to connect to.
It’s time to spread more kindness.
Heading artwork credit: Mike Kiev.