I’ve been reminded of this concept a few times over the last few weeks and it’s something I thought would be good to share. It’s a concept I’ve found really useful when coming to terms with my limited independence.
Imagine a cosmic bank that registers all acts of human kindness. Its currency doesn’t just rely on acts but genuinely loving thoughts and well-wishing count too. Each of us has an account which we can pay into by offering love and kindness to others and make withdrawals from as we need them. The most important thing about this bank is that it needs to flow. For the world to be a happy place the movement of loving kindness must be constant. If nobody needs the kindness it pointless for anybody to pay into their accounts as the currency is worthless. However, if people only ever withdraw then there will come a point when there is nothing left to go around. The more that constantly flows in and out the happier the world can be.
Most people will have a crisis or two during their life; times when they need to make a larger withdrawal from the bank, so it’s always a good idea to try and save a little. The bank as a whole needs the kindness to flow, so an account is really just a record, what really matters is that people are constantly giving and receiving. But many people feel happier about receiving (especially from a stranger) if they know that their balance is healthy or feel more motivated to give when they realise, they might need to receive some day. It’s generally a good idea to pay in as much kindness as possible for times ahead when we might need a large withdrawal. It’s also a good idea to save up for old age when we are likely to be more needy.
However, as a chronically ill person we already often need to take out larger withdrawals. There are many things that we need help with and it may seem that we have to take much more than we are able to give back. Also, when others need our help, we might not be able to give in the ways that we used to because of our restricted energy and ability.
The way I get my head around this is first to think about the fact that the only way this bank can function is if kindness in constantly flowing and in order for somebody to give there needs to be somebody to receive. By being a needy person, you are allowing this process to flow and giving the people around the opportunity to build up their accounts. This only works though if their giving is done with genuine love and kindness. So, if we can help smooth over our helping/caring relationships we can make a positive contribution to the flow of the cosmic bank of kindness. What I mean by this is that we can make the world a better place by gratefully accepting acts of kindness and by making it easy for our carers to help us.
But there are also many little ways we can pay into the bank of kindness that don’t take big energetic acts. If we can offer a warm smile to everyone we encounter, we can build up credit in our accounts. Similarly, we can silently wish happiness and health to everyone we come across. This genuine compassion also counts even if it seems quite passive. Regularly practising the loving kindness meditation is also a good way of contributing.
Our illness means we’ve had to slow down, but that offers us an opportunity that those running the rat race often don’t get to see. We can add a little to our accounts constantly by carrying an awareness of the importance of loving kindness. Others often don’t think about it unless something stares them in the face. Even then, if it interferes with their busy schedule, they may only be able to give resentfully which will do nothing to credit their accounts!
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