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Meditating on Gentleness

Be soft, do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate, nor let bitterness steal your sweetness.

Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

Kurt Vonnegut

Take from this post on gentleness, what speaks to your heart. It seems particularly pertinent, given events happening in Afghanistan.

A Meditation on Gentleness

Invite gentleness to your being.

Let it move from your heart into your mind.

Gentleness means recognizing that the world around us is fragile.

Life is fragile.

Gentleness is recognizing our own capacity to do harm and choosing instead to be tender, compassionate, soft-hearted and careful.

When we are gentle, we touch the world in ways that protect and preserve us.

Being gentle doesn’t mean being weak. It can be assertive and helpful.

To live in a gentle way, it requires us to:

  • Stay centred in our own values and strengths
  • Be active rather than reactive
  • Be considerate and open
  • Offer gentle words that channel our energy and create positive change.

There are some more benefits to being gentle according to Lao Tzu – an ancient Chinese Philosopher.

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize.

The first is gentleness;

the second is frugality;

the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others.

Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal;

Avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”

Lao Tzu

68 thoughts on “Meditating on Gentleness”

  1. I entirely agree with this variety of precepts .. There is a young Vietnamese man here who is this building’s caretaker, and he is the sweetest person I know – and gentle. As his wife is much the same, I must believe their race comprises people of this ilk.
    Even the word itself is onomatopoeiacally (?) pleasing.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That must be the first time I have seen the adverbial form – onomatopoeiacally – used in a sentence!
      Yes Buddhists generally make gentle people. So sweet. Many asian people are gentle, despite their reputation for brutality in some regions.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Meditating on Gentleness On Sunday, August 22, 2021, Something to Ponder About wrote:

    > Forestwood posted: ” Be soft, do not let the world make you hard. Do not > let pain make you hate, nor let bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride > that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it > to be a beautiful place.Kurt Vonnegut Take fr” >

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Amanda, this is truly lovely. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. One I have used is simple “don’t mistake kindness as weakness.” There is this “false bravado” who two words should define it as something to avoid. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Mistaking kindness as weakness may be misguided and end up surprising one party! Weakness by its definition to me, suggests something is faulty, to be disliked or not aspired to. For me, weakness also signifies a need for extra protection. What about you, Keith?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. There is a scene from “To Kill in a Mockingbird” where Atticus Finch goes to comfort his client’s family after his client is shot. He is approached by the true criminal who beat his daughter for being nice to a black man, who was tried in the Jim Crow south for the assailant’s crime. The assailant spit in Finch’s face. Finch looked at him with disdain, wiped his face and walked away without fighting.

        As a child, I viewed Finch as being scared to fight back. But, as an adult, you realize this man has more courage than anyone and was not about to waste time beating up a mean drunk. Also, we need to remember how Finch surprised his own son by being considered the best rifle shooter in the county. So, Finch could have easily put this man down, but chose not to. There is an old saying, beware of the quiet guy.

        Keith

        Liked by 2 people

    1. It seems especially true that the world around us is fragile at the moment, Dorothy and this thought implores us to nurture nature and care more for our world. Our planet hangs there in the cosmos, at the whim of the beings who inhabit it! Many understand how to be gentle while others are still learning how.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting that gentleness is an incredible strength. It incorporates a self-confidence that comes from humility, knowledge and altruism, I think?

      Like

  4. Gentle people are a joy to be around. Our best friends are Gentle, frugal, and humble – really inspiring people. They have more friends than anyone I know, and it’s only because their nature draws people to them. The wife says her husband only has to walk the length of a shopping mall and he’ll have another friend at the end of his walk. They inspire me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What wonderful people to know, Chris. You are very fortunate to know such folks. Are they good listeners? Take an interest in others. I suspect you must also be pretty gentle?

      Like

  5. Loved the quotes and your reflections. Just recently, I was wondering why they call a pleasant and even-tempered man a “gentleman.” Men are not supposed to be “gentle.” I answered myself by saying that, despite the “roughness” that characterises a man, gentleness makes him stand out.
    The poem was a very good one. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Amanda,

      Thank you for introducing the concepts of “Meditating on Gentleness” to your readers. I would like to wish you all the best in your endeavours in being gentle and cultivating gentleness.

      I concur with SamSahana regarding your quotation of Lao Tzu, which I really like:

      I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize.

      The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others.

      Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.

      I wonder whether you remember coming across the following two quotations sourced from Tao Te Ching:

      A leader is best
      When people barely know he exists
      Of a good leader, who talks little,
      When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
      They will say, “We did this ourselves.”

      ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

      All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.

      ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

      Considering the state of the current presidency in the USA, we should be aware of the abovementioned two quotes, from both of which the former US presidency and also leaders in other countries can learn a great deal.

      Speaking of ancient Chinese works, I have attempted to interpret and translate a Chinese poem at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/11/11/strong-wind-knows-tough-grass/

      Given your expertise and insights, I look forward to your visit since I am very curious about what you make of the subject matters of my said post.

      Once again, thank you for composing this gently inspiring post to edify us of the importance of being gentle.

      Wishing both you and SamSahana a productive weekend doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most!

      Yours sincerely,
      SoundEagle

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks ever so much for your visit and much appreciated detailed comment, SoundEagle. The quotes you mentioned intrigue me because they speak of gentle power! Respectful power and leadership through humility and non-aggression. They remind me of Gandhi.
        In particular the following words intrigued me and I will ponder more on them today: If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.

        This is not a well recognized concept and the analogy is interesting. The sheep is not often the stronger beast – mentally or physically. So how is it a follower could lead? What could following others teach us about leading? Is there other learnings within this concept other than nurturing humility?
        What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dear Amanda,

          You are very welcome. There is a great deal to be learnt in these lines from Lao Tzu in Tao Te Ching, and also in other Eastern texts and philosophies.

          Learning to follow people requires humility, empathy, identification and not putting oneself (even as a/the leader) before others. My aforementioned post entitled “Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass” can provide further answers regarding the dynamics between leadership and probity as well as meritocracy. The line “Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass” is in itself an analogy or allegory whose potency is tantamount to that of a proverb.

          I would like to inform you that this multidisciplinary and mixed media post is best viewed in situ on my blog (not via WordPress Reader) on a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen, given that it contains intricate graphical designs and animations as well as advanced styling and multimedia components plus animations.

          Yours sincerely,
          SoundEagle

          Like

  6. No worries, Sam! And thank you for the clarification. It is a good question asking why the term ‘gentlemen,’ came about. The label suggests a refined, well-mannered style of man, doesn’t it, which contrasts with the rough, macho image many men aspire to being!
    Tzu’s words are also an interesting mix: mixing gentleness, humility and frugality as life’s virtues.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love all of this post and all of the quotes. I’m nothing if not gentle. Even when I’m being strong and assertive, I’m gentle in my approach. I see no need for any other way to be in the world. I prefer to walk gently on the earth as well. If feels my footsteps and reacts tot hem. I raised kind, thoughtful children by being gentle in my approach with them. Strict, fair, and gentle. They do go hand in hand. Such a great way to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No wonder I look up to you, Marlene and that you have such inspirational words. I wish I could say I am like that, but it wouldn’t be true. So it seems I still have a few lessons to learn before I reach Nirvana!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We NEVER stop learning. I’m not bragging. It’s something I came into the world knowing. It was one of my gifts where others have better intellect and artistic talent, I knew gentleness and forgiveness. I got the direct connection on some things but life is all about learning and feeling the joy of life. It’s what I know for certain. I muddle along with everyone else.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. If WordPress had a ‘Love’ button to hit, I would do so a hundred times. This is such a post. And it has come at a time when the world seems to be crumbling and the sense of common good elusive. Yet, if only each one of us could just keep these powerful yet simple words in our hearts and minds, so much would change. I am learning more and more to be gentle with my choice of words and if a situation arises where I feel words form inside of me that I may regret saying, I tell myself that I cannot control anything or anyone around me. All I have control over is myself and what I think, the way I think and as a result, words I use. I can always make a better choice. It’s not easy always and it takes a lot of strength, at least I feel that way, but then again, as they say, nothing in life comes easy. Thank you Amanda, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know Moon, this comment warmed my heart! I do think we need a ‘love,’ button so I could “love,” your comment.
      These words of yours, in particular, was and is profoundly signifcant.
      ” I cannot control anything or anyone around me. All I have control over is myself and what I think, the way I think and as a result, words I use. ”
      Realising you cannot control things around you lightens the emotional load of a negative thought immeasurably.
      Choosing what and the way you think is about choosing your reaction and regular practice of this, gives us a short pause before blurting out words we might regret.
      I agree that the situation in the world is precarious and we can only do and react what and how we can in our own microcosm. Allowing those gentle ripples to expand out into own communities and hopefully the world. Nothing comes easy because therein lies our challenges. Without challenges, you have apathy.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A lovely thought, Chinwe. I love the expression standing on one’s oars! Where did you hear that expression? It suggests great personal strength, which I believe gentleness may emanate from. That self-confidence of seeing the bigger picture and being able to set aside petty jealousies and wants.

      Like

      1. I do try to, but unfortunately I’m not too successful with it. My elder son is definitely better at it than I am! I tend to immerse myself in nature, and find this brings immense peace and calmness to life and thoughts.
        I have just reread your post, plus all the thoughts on your post, and all are very inspiring indeed. The world today definitely needs more gentleness. Gentleness is a wonderful gift, and I realise I need to be more mindful of this as I go through life. Thank you for a lovely and thought provoking post!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I am flattered that you were guided to re-read the post and found it thought-provoking. Thank you. I totally agree that immersing oneself in nature helps calm the mind and thoughts. Isn’t there a term for it now: nature bathing? Or such like?
          Gentleness as a gift: a gift we can give to others that costs nothing! It is something we can practise everyday.
          Meditation seems to work better with practice. After several months of regular practise, I found it had incredible benefits. I am not surprised that those who try out mediation once or twice, feel it is not for them.
          There are however, many different forms, for example: bead meditation or being a silent observer to our thoughts ( see more here : https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2021/08/26/sunday-sayings-meditation/
          Simple techniques that may suit some individuals better than others.
          Good luck with your practice. Let me know how you go with it as time goes on.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you again, and for the link, which I will go and read now. Bead meditation sounds interesting. I will investigate that. My son said that it took him a while before he felt the benefits of meditation. I really ought to put more effort into trying. I will let you know how it goes. Thank you for being an inspiration!

            Liked by 2 people

  9. Lovely post…with more gentle hearts,the world would be such a beautiful place to live in..a gentle heart can always connect with others even if placed across the globe.it is something I dwell more on these days.🥰

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “A gentle heart can always connect with others even if placed across the globe.”
      Wonderful words you wrote there, fairydust! We can improve our own little space and family and spread those gentle ripples out into the community and over the waves.
      Namaste!

      Like

  10. I wonder whether general male violence, philandering, sexism and controlling behavior toward girls/women may be related to the same constraining societal idealization of the ‘real man’ (albeit perhaps more subtly than in the past)?: He is stiff-upper-lip physically and emotionally strong, financially successful, confidently fights and wins, assertively solves problems, and exemplifies sexual prowess.

    Relevantly revelatory may be the Toronto Now article headlined “Keep Cats Out of Your Dating Profile, Ridiculous Study Suggests” and sub-headlined “Men were deemed less masculine and less attractive when they held up cats in their dating pics, according to researchers”. Wussies need not apply?

    I recall that, shortly after Donald Trump was sworn-in as president, a 2016 survey of American women conducted not long after his abundant misogyny was exposed to the world revealed that a majority of respondents nonetheless found him appealing, presumably due to his alpha-male great financial success and confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this is an intriguing area of discussion. In Australia, the macho male is hailed as very Aussie, and the intelligent, scientific or intellectually enquiring male something lesser than, or nerdy and boring. It takes more fortitude and guts to be a guy in this kind of environment. My own husband doesn’t like the football that much but keeps up with the big games so that he can contribute to discussions on football with other men. Such is the conversation of Aussie men. It doesn’t appeal to me much beyond the initial physicality as the misogyny is apparent after a few sentences.
      Cats? Wow… sensitive males and animal lovers must find it harder to get dates?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amanda, FGSJR, we have this here in the states, preceding the former president and his false bravado. Being a real man (or woman for that matter) involves accountability and responsibility for one’s actions, neither of which are traits the former president is known for. I find the former president to be the opposite of his false bravado countenance, as what scares him more than anything is a prepared female reporter asking him questions. We should never forget that he failed to attend one of the 2016 Republican debates because a Megan Kelly asked him questions he did not like at the last Fox debate.

        A real man loves his family, works hard at a job he may not like, and is there for his mates and relatives when needed. And, he owns up to his mistakes. Finally, a real man does not need to broadcast how tough he is. There is an old saying “beware of the quiet guy.”

        This has been an excellent post and set of comments. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Apparently, he was the accidental president, who initially ran for the Republican presidency nomination to prove he could win (on a lark?). … Shortly after election night 2016, a news report’s anonymous source stated that the soon-to-be First Lady Melania Trump cried — but not out of joy. Perhaps she knew that neither Donald nor she belonged in the White House, and they/she would be eaten alive by daily news producers and social media.

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          1. I have heard the same and remember seeing one of those very American Roasts – where Obama took a few jibs at Donald who was seated in the audience. You could see Trump seething in his seat, fuming silently. It is said that that is when he decided to run for President….

            Liked by 1 person

          2. He certainly was not prepared to win having fired his transition team. So, much intellectual capital was lost in the transition as the Trump did not have people in place and some would have been better left empty with his choices. Keith

            Liked by 2 people

        2. Your description of a real man or a real person is closer to the desired truth and probably who I, as a woman, would admire! It is also the description of a decent human being, Keith. At least to my mind.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Then there are the guys on the opposite end of that spectrum. The author of The Highly Sensitive Man writes in Chapter 1 (2019, Tom Falkenstein, pgs.11-13):
        “You only have to open a magazine or newspaper, turn on your TV, or open your browser to discover an ever-growing interest in stories about being a father, being a man, or how to balance a career with a family. Many of these articles have started talking about an apparent ‘crisis of masculinity.’
        The headlines for these articles attempt to address male identity, but often fall into the trap of sounding ironic and sometimes even sarcastic and critical: ‘Men in Crisis: Time to Pull Yourselves Together,’ ‘The Weaker Sex,’ ‘Crisis in Masculinity: Who is the Stronger Sex?’ and ‘Search for Identity: Super-Dads or Vain Peacocks’ are just a few examples. They all seem to agree to some extent that there is a crisis. But reading these articles one gets the impression that no one really knows how to even start dealing with the problem, let alone what a solution to it might look like. One also gets the impression from these articles that we need to keep any genuine sympathy for these ‘poor men’ in check: the patriarchy is still just too dominant to allow ourselves that luxury … ”

        Also, when I read Childhood Disrupted I noticed that the book included only one man among its six interviewed adult subjects, presumably there being such a small pool of ACE-traumatized men willing to formally tell his own story of childhood abuse. It could be evidence of a continuing societal take-it-like-a-man mindset, albeit sometimes subtle; one in which so many men, even with anonymity, would prefer not to ‘complain’ to some stranger/author about his torturous childhood, as that is what ‘real men’ do. (I’ve tried more than once contacting the book’s author via internet websites in regards to this unaddressed elephant-in-the-room matter but received no reply.) …

        Lastly, regarding cats, there are many people out there who will question the normality of a guy who adores his, let alone others’, pet feline(s)—something that’s implied by first-season Seinfeld’s George Costanza. In a doubtful tone of voice while shaking his head, George says to Elaine Benes in regards to her new boyfriend’s affection for his two cats: “Guys with cats … I don’t know.”

        I recollect how, as a teen, I knew two of the toughest, testosterone-laden and, like myself, straight guys around (whom I always tried to emulate), who also cherished their pet cats, though privately. Given the tough-guy environment of that place and time, however, no male would have dared openly express his cat enthusiasm to his large peer group, lest he seriously risk having his reputation permanently besmirched as ‘a wuss’.

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        1. Now that is sad that a man must not feel he can openly like cats! If he was an obsessed cat lover with 100 cats inside a small house, I would be suspicious. But one man with one or two cats – why the hell not have them? To draw a parallel between male masculinity and enjoying the company of creatures that are most suitably adapted to small apartment style living or a pet that can look after themselves while their owners is away at work for perhaps long hours of the day seems to be a practical decision. I don’t think the cat issue is as much a parallel to “soft” masculinity here. But then it is better to ask a male that question, perhaps?
          Furthermore, your discussion touches on the fact of abuse by women towards men. The stats of domestic violence suggest it might be around 30%, even though many more women are abused by men, the men who suffer abuse, are always reluctant to speak about it as not only does it suggest the man is a wuss, but there is much shame and embarrassment for them. Yet, they have strength that is tested in the most gut wrenching way, in the most extraordinary circumstances. It is a lose-lose situation for them, always!

          Liked by 1 person

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