There have been many spiritual teachers through the ages whose teachings have had an impact on me. Although I am not a practicing Buddhist, Buddha's focus on showing loving kindness to all living creatures, has been one of my major spiritual lessons.
Over the years, my ability to practice loving kindness to people (even strangers) has improved dramatically. I'd give myself an A-. Even showing myself loving kindness deserves at least an A.
I have also been much more mindful of showing loving kindness to the earth's environment. I'm much more "green" minded and make deliberate choices like recycling and not using purchased water bottles any more, that demonstrate that level of consciousness. I still need improvement, so I would give myself a B.
Overall, I've been feeling pretty loving. I practice compassion for all, (well, maybe most), I forgive pretty easily and I laugh a lot (you must have seen images of the Laughing Buddha).
There is one area, however, that I really need some extra focus and that is in treatment of insects. I think it is actually the piece of Buddha history that stands out most for me is that he showed loving compassion and kindness even to smallest of creatures.
Every Spring as the weather warms up a bit, our 120 year old Victorian farm house seems to widen it's cracks to welcome the large black carpenter ants. In the past, I'd kill each one without a thought. This year, I tried to be more Buddha-like and spare their lives by carefully picking them up without damaging their little bodies or legs, and would then carry them outside to return them to their natural environment.
For the past two weeks, this practice was going great. I felt very warm, loving and kind and no ant lives were lost. My husband told me the spared ants were going back to their families and friends and giving directions to our house, spreading the word on where they can find the most crumbs on the floor and the little drips of honey on the counter that are often missed in the post breakfast cleanup.
I laughed off his cynicism and continued to do my Buddha thing....that is, until this morning when the ants came marching in by large numbers. I could soon see they far out-numbered me. I felt myself panic and overwhelmed by my waning sense of loving kindness. As fast as I would gingerly transfer one ant-body, two more would show up. Finally, I lost it and wiped out about 20 at one time with a big swipe of a paper towel.
Clearly my score in the insect department needs work. I will do my best and am not giving up, although I'm not optimistic.
The good news is I do not show the same kind of violence with anything else....except maybe spiders.