“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” -The Dalai Lama
One night in China, I was sitting at my friend James’ apartment discussing the concept of tanha, typically translated as “craving.” It is also sometimes translated as “thirst,” but includes the lack of thirst, otherwise known as aversion, making it a hard word to translate. As I observed his exquisite decor, and sometime before dinner and after he talked about his many pilgrimages to different monasteries and Buddhist temples, he said, “You know what I would translate tanha as? Drama.” He explained that tanha has both a pushing and pulling sensation to it, like being caught up in a tug of war with life. It is the soap opera suffering that makes up the bulk of our misery, he said. I said that I wasn’t sure if I agreed. I liked the translation of thirst better.
But lately, I think he had a good point. Somewhere, beyond the pushing and pulling, the tanha, the drama, the dukkha, is kindness. Kindness is undramatic. It doesn’t post comments on social media with cutting subtle double edged meanings. It doesn’t lie to other people, and it doesn’t lie to itself. Kindness is pure. It just is what it is. It is simple. And therein, lies the third Noble Truth.