I heard a story about a golfer who was awarded a check for winning a tournament, and when he was walking to the parking lot a woman came up to him and told him a heart-wrenching story about her sick child. She told him that if the child didn’t get help soon, he would die. The golfer promptly signed his check over to the woman. A month later one of the golfer’s buddies told him that he heard about what happened in the parking lot and that he also heard that the woman was a con artist and didn’t even have a sick child. The golfer replied, “That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time — a child isn’t going to die.”
The golfer obviously did not get caught in the fear of betrayal that would have led him to feel mistreated, and to consequently harbor resentment toward the woman. If he had taken the path of bitterness, no doubt many people would have agreed with him. But instead, he was able to listen to the voice of the heart, the heart that is naturally concerned with the welfare of others, rather than the hard-hearted habit of holding grudges.
It may be easy for us to be kind, and also forgiving, when life is going well. But it’s only when life gets difficult that the depth of our practice is revealed. For our kindness to be real, it can’t depend on how others treat us, or on how we feel at any given moment. Truthfully, when we feel mistreated, kindness is often the farthest thing from our minds and hearts. Yet, for genuine happiness to be possible, we ultimately have to go to that deep place within us where true kindness and forgiveness can be accessed. This means we must attend to whatever blocks access to our hearts.
Ezra Bayda, Beyond Happiness, The Zen Way to True Contentment.