If you were given a choice what all would you like to 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 all can he give? Why is he giving it to me? What all will I do when I get it? Who all am I going to share it with? And on and on and on.
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 all 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?
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 all can you give? None; some; a lot; everything? Make two lists of what all you would like to take versus what all you are willing to give. If taking list is longer than the giving, you are already getting what you deserve from your life — frustration and lacking. If both lists or 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 the 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.
There is a famous story of a Zen monk I would like to share with you:
Seisetsu, the Zen master, had a huge following. He required 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 expense 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 has a peculiar and a natural relationship; the latter fuels the former.
Decided 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 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 give 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 grateful.
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.