Kendo’s Healing Message for May

Kendo routinely encounters a wide range of people, from the rich to the “just about managing”, the open-minded to those with fixed opinions, from the generous to the self-interested. As a life-long student of Zen, Kendo himself is accustomed to casting-off opinions along with all other conscious noise, and doing this allows an open-minded approach to all he meets, but can those of us who’ve adopted the Zen ideal more recently develop a similar non-judgemental approach to life?

Working alongside the Lee Rigby Foundation has introduced us at the Nagasaki Retreat to a lot more people who have come from all the above walks of life, so we’ve seen astonishing generosity and willingness to support bereaved families and Veterans in difficulties, but we’ve also seen those who’ve held back from supporting such work. It’s often not easy to understand why anyone would fail to do so, and consequently it’s not easy to avoid wondering why there’s an apparent lack of generosity.

However, as Kendo would point out, we shouldn’t judge a situation which we can never fully understand.

The only person we can truly know is ourselves, so we really can’t know how anyone else feels about something. It may be that another person is sensitive to anything to do with bereavement because they’ve not fully recovered from their own bereavement, or that they don’t know what to think or feel about Veterans because they can’t get past their own fears over how they would react in such challenging and stressful conditions as Veterans have faced. Such personal sensitivities and fears can make it difficult to even broach these big “elephant in the room” issues, and many people understandably avoid confronting them. Sadly, they may even feel guilt about doing so, which may make them even more self-isolating and self-protecting.

Kendo’s main hope for the human condition is that we are all able to be optimistic and generous, being the best we can be in support of our families and communities, and those beyond too, ideally. Based on such a philosophy of life, it’s easy to be naturally generous towards those we know are in need, and as we are all part of the community, doing anything which supports it benefits us too, as our entire society becomes one of support, optimism, and empowerment. However, we also need to extend that generosity of spirit to those seem to set themselves outside this positive ideal – as illustrated above, they may have hidden needs of their own.

Being the best you can be and supporting your community ultimately manifests visibly as a highly positive community, one which is more like a good and strong family, and everyone should feel able to approach it and join in. Kendo would point out that this is why it’s so important not to think negatively about anyone who appears to set themselves apart from you and nurse their own interests; they may simply need a gradual introduction to the benefits of supporting others, and be given the time and opportunity to see that doing so ultimately supports ourselves as well, and all around us too.

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