Fierce Kindness

fierce-kindness-kaliSharon Salzberg, the queen of loving-kindness meditation, tells a story of a time she was traveling in India. As she was exiting a taxi, a man grabbed her suitcase in attempt to steal it. Sharon, grabbing the handle, struggled back and forth and back and forth with this man. Finally, when she knew he wasn’t letting go, she took her umbrella and hit him over the head “with all the love in my heart,” she says. Hit him over the head with all the love in her heart. You’ve got to smile at that.

So often we think of the word “kindness” and get all mushy and passive. We confuse it with being “nice”. Being meek. Being monkish. I would like to shine a light on a side of kindness that doesn’t get much airtime. Fierce kindness. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not.

When I looked up the word “fierce” in the dictionary, one definition said:


  1. (of a feeling, emotion, or action) Showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity.

I think we need more fierceness like that in the world right now. Not to destroy, but to wake up and shake up what’s so terribly imbalanced today. We need fierceness for that. But if it’s not combined with Big Heart, like Sharon’s bold umbrella move, then we’re just adding to the mess that we, as a species, are already in.

So how do you know when your fierceness is infused with kindness and heart, or something else like revenge, blame, or downright meanness? This is where self awareness comes in.

What I do is check out where I am feeling it in my body. Then I ask that part of my body, “What’s up with that? Where is your intention coming from?” Anger, resentment, fear? If I get a yes, it’s time for me to take a deep breath or two (or five), to realign. (Note: I don’t always succeed at this but I do try try again). If love arises instead (and it can, even amidst an intense situation), I let that lead the way. Takes practice. Lots of it. But it’s so powerful when the fierceness that lives inside of you is combined with all the love in your heart. That’s the stuff that moves mountains.

In the Hindu religion, there is a goddess called Kali. She has four arms, with a sword in one hand and the head of a demon in another. The other two hands bless her worshippers, and say, “Fear not”! When the goddess of death and destruction strikes her blow, it’s not to destroy, but to cut away those parts of us that are no longer useful. That stand in the way of our greatest expression. That’s fierce kindness.

A dear friend of mine painfully woke me up the other day. His fierce words struck me down to my core. But because I knew the quality of his Big Heart, I didn’t react with a @#$%. I was silenced — and self reflective instead. His fierce kindness created an opening within me that has stirred all sorts of emotions. Many painful, but all good. He was a catalyst for change for me.

When have you practiced fierce kindness amidst adversity, oh woman of green? How are you using that to create change, real change, on the planet?

Carolyn Parrs, creator of Women Of Green and owner of Mind Over Markets, is deeply passionate about harnessing the power of women to help create a positive, dramatic and measurable impact on the planet. One way she does this is by helping women launch and grow green or socially-focused businesses as a Marketing and Life Coach. “Business is one of the most powerful forces on the planet for change — and as more and more women launch and grow sustainable businesses, collectively we can make a BIG economic and social impact — fast. We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.”


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