The first time I learnt of this line is from a Buddhist monk, Ajahn Brahm. He is such a great teacher and has been so fundamental in my Buddhist practice. “Be kind, be gentle and make peace” is a way of practice that brings more joy to the heart as it goes deeper. This practice is an internal practice – it’s about how we relate to ourselves skilfully. And when it’s developed well, it will change the way we relate to others as well.
To practise this, one needs to be and feel vulnerable. One needs to open one’s heart completely. Just like Ajahn Brahm’s famous book’s title, the door of my heart is always open, that’s how we should treat ourselves – no matter what happens in life, our hearts are always open to ourselves.
Nobody is immune to pain and sorrow in life. We all have lost someone or something and we all have unmet wanting.. There will always be praise and blames, gains and losses, fame and disgrace, happiness and suffering.
That’s why the gentleness is necessary. As with physical wound, we tend to our hearts’ pain and sorrow gently. However the main part is to make peace with things, not to wish things be otherwise than what they truly are. A lot of our pain is self-inflicted, we tend to wish things be the way we want. When the reality is the opposite to what we wish for, we reject it. Deeply we wish it be otherwise. It’s like we have an internal war. Though if we contemplate, is it helpful to do this? Do we feel better by thinking this way? I bet the answers will be “no”.
Instead of having the internal war, let’s make peace with it. The pain may still be there, but when we make peace with it, somehow the severity of the pain lessens. And with time, the pain will turn into something beautiful like joy and gratitude.
This practice is not going to be an easy one, but if done properly will lead to wisdom and joy, which is your safest treasure as nobody can steal them from you.
So let’s be kind, be gentle and make peace.
PS: I include one video of Ajahn Brahm teaching during his meditation retreat on this theme. May this help you in some ways. (If there are some Pali terms you don’t understand, I think it’s okay. Just get the essence of it – focus on your relationship with your meditation object – how you relate to it… do you relate to it with kindness and making peace with it?)