If you were given a choice of anything that you could take from, let us say, anybody, from someone who could give you whatever you asked for; what would you say? Of course, the conscious mind, the conditioned mind promptly comes into play, and chances are you would start evaluating the options. How much can he give? What can he give? Why is he giving it to me? What will I do when I get it? Who am I going to share it with? And on and on and on.
The conscious mind is very calculative. It forces you to calculate everything; emotions, however, are not based on calculations. They are spontaneous reactions. You tickle a toddler, he giggles right away. There is no calculation there. So, what will you take if someone approached you and said that he could give you anything you wished? What if the person was only able to offer you material things? Would you say, “Give me money. A ton of it.”? What next?
The Spirit of Giving – Where do you stand?
It is easy to prepare a list of things you would like to take. This is conditioning. But let me turn the tables for a moment. What can you give? Nothing; something; a lot; everything? Make two lists of everything you would like to take versus everything you are willing to give.
The List of Giving and Taking
- If the taking list is longer than the giving one, you are already getting what you deserve from your life — frustration and lacking.
- If both lists are of equal length, you deserve congratulations. You know how to live a balanced life.
- If your giving list is longer than the other one, you deserve honor; you must have something very special to be willing to give more than you want to take.
- If the taking list has nothing in it and everything is in the giving list, you deserve obeisances. You are God walking in a human body. Think about it again — across all religions in the world, the greatest are remembered for what they gave to the world. Everyone gets inspiration from what their idol gave or even gave up.
Giving creates strength; it feeds the soul. If both lists are empty, you are in a sorry state of affairs.
What does giving mean to you? There is a famous story of a Zen monk on giving, I would like to share with you:
Seisetsu, the Zen master, had a huge following. He required a bigger premises for the monastery as the present one was proving too small to accommodate the growing crowd. Among his followers was a rich merchant, a well known wealthy man called Umezu. He decided to chip in. Those were the times when an average family’s annual expenses would be no more than three gold coins.
Umezu took an offering to his master and said, “Here’s a bag of five hundred gold coins from my side. This will take care of all construction requirements.”
Seisetsu said, in a plain tone, sounding as if accepting some burden, “Okay. I will take it.”
Umezu’s ego was hurt. He felt the master was being rude and ungrateful in the manner he accepted the money. Just like fear and ignorance, ego and money have a peculiar and a natural relationship; the latter fuels the former.
Deciding to make a point about his philanthropy and status, he mumbled, “There are five hundred gold coins in that bag.”
“You already told me that,” Seisetsu replied coldly.
Umezu who was only slightly hurt earlier, doubting perhaps if his master did not hear him initially, was now furious.
He exclaimed, “Even for a wealthy merchant, five hundred gold coins is a lot of money!”
“So, do you want me to thank you for it?” Seisetsu sneered.
“Yes! You ought to,” replied Umezu promptly as much as anxiously.
“Why should I?” Seisetsu scoffed, “The giver should be thankful.”
How beautiful! The giver should be thankful. It is so true, you should be truly thankful if Nature chooses you as the medium to be the one who is giving out. Granted, the taker should be no less grateful either. Therefore, when you are acting as the giver be thankful, and when you have the recipient’s hat on, be just as grateful. Here is an interesting read for you – A Blessed Life.
Ultimately, no one is giving or taking. Everyone is simply a medium. Gratitude is a divine emotion nonetheless. It is worthy of adoption and practice. Make sure you offer it to the right one though.
Do you know one of the best forms of giving? Service. When you offer your time or skills to a worthy cause, it is philanthropy at its finest.
Adi Shankaracharya once set out to locate the ideal place for his first monastery. He wanted it to be in a place where each inhabitant lived in harmony and trust with the other. His search culminated where he saw a serpent protecting, with its hood, a pregnant toad from the falling rain. The fully relaxed and trusting toad was basking under the shelter of the serpent, which was otherwise its natural enemy.
Can there be a more perfect example of the spirit of giving – for a being to serve the creature it was meant to kill and eat? Sometimes, to experience this power of giving, one has to go against and beyond the laws of nature.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
The FAQs below show you how to experience service and charity like never before. For, as Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
What does it mean to give your all to God?
Sometimes, people ask me, “What is surrender and how do we surrender to a cause/person/God?” Service is surrender. Without surrender, true service is not possible and without service surrender dies a quick death. Service expects nothing in return other than the well-being of the one we are serving.
True service requires absolute selflessness, something even beyond altruism, for in service, the benchmark is not on whether you are acknowledged or special. It is not about give or take. Instead, your goal is to devote everything you’ve got to serve the cause that matters to you.
In short, we are giving away all of ourselves to what we believe in. This is the highest ideal of philanthropy.
Continue reading The Spirit of Service.
How do I become a selfless person?
Unless we foster a spiritual outlook towards our own life and others’, we can’t really hope to rise above our petty thoughts and emotions. We place too much emphasis on self-comfort, on why I’m being treated or not treated a certain way. How about why shouldn’t I be more selfless? Why shouldn’t I be more giving?
Because remember, the giver should be thankful. Nature has blessed you with the opportunity to be a medium of change.
A spiritual attitude basically means that we don’t always put ourselves at the center of our decisions and actions. The more spiritual your perspective, the grander your life becomes.
Be patient. Give before you take, give a lot more than you wish to take. Nature will reciprocate. It never fails.
Continue reading A Spiritual Attitude which narrates a beautiful story of patience, selflessness and determination through Buddha and his disciple, Subhuti. And let’s not forget – adopt an attitude of gratitude and surrender!
Why is it more of a blessing to give than to receive?
When you help someone in any which way you can, you are exercising charity or philanthropy. Compassion, kindness, sympathy, kind-heartedness, graciousness, consideration, concern, tolerance, leniency. When you practice or feel any of these, you are exercising the power of giving.
Charity is not an expense or a gift. It is your contribution to society.
Just like you save money, bit by bit and every penny adds up, similarly, every little act of kindness counts. Every small gesture of compassion boosts your spiritual savings. Because, that’s what charity is: it’s your spiritual savings account.
When you need peace and inner strength, you draw from this account. It is where your good karma is recorded.
The giver should be thankful indeed, for, make no mistake, charity is not an ordinary act but a position of immense privilege. Reflect on it and you’ll discover what a blessing it is to be able to give something back to our world.
Continue reading Your Spiritual Wealth, the wealth which accumulates naturally when you practice philanthropy and adopt an attitude of gratitude!
Why is empathy the best form of giving?
In true empathy, the aim is to remove the block of intellectual understanding so we may open our hearts to make space for the other person.
The other person is sharing with you what is bothering them or how they are feeling. They have come to you with the trust that you will hear them out and not judge them, that you will not dismiss them or their concerns as nothing.
The idea is not to interpret their words according to our understanding and regurgitate what we know. Instead, it is to open your door and let them in when you hear the knock.
Empathy springs from the most beautiful corner of your heart, not the mind. If I may reiterate, I once read somewhere, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”
As Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Empathy is when love has shed the cocoon of judgments and metamorphosed from merely an expression into a living emotion. If you are truly in love, all else will happen naturally.
When you are empathetic, you are performing one of the highest acts of service there is. Continue reading The Pirates of Empathy to know the 10 most common mistakes or pirates that steal our ability to be empathetic.
What are the golden rules of giving?
While it is infinitely better to be a giver than to be in a give or take relationship, there are certain golden rules that will help one to give to the person who truly needs it. This will help set a boundary if we are giving away too much of ourselves.
The short video below highlights this principle through the story of the girl who gave too much.