The Theme for February here at YWM is Love, and the foundational attitude supporting that is Generosity.
I read a quote from the Buddha -
“If you knew as I know the benefit of generosity, you would not let an opportunity go by without sharing.“
Can you tell me some of the benefits that you have found from generosity?
There is this odd tension in a human being; the separate sense of ‘me’ or ‘I’ and the sense of unity and connection with all of life. In philosophy it is called the problem of the one and the many. From my understanding, both the separate one and the unity are true.
With that being said, my theory is that generosity is a harmonization of the individual and the oneness. When I am generous (teaching, giving, helping, ect….) my experience is an awareness of the qualities or aspects of ultimate reality, of All. When this occurs the bloated ego, which causes suffering, calms down and the oneness of everything is experienced.
Thank you for diving in deep right off the bat. So you are saying that when you give generously, this giving reminds you of your connection and unity with the rest of creation, and therefore lessens the suffering that you experience from forgetting that truth. A “bloated ego” results from forgetting that connection. This concept of generosity fits so well with what you were saying recently about compassion. When we realize deeply, our inherent connection with all others, we cannot help but hurt for their hurts, and seek to share what we have to alleviate that pain, and to build the other up. When we give to others, we are giving to a part of our own self.
Jesus put it this way: “Give , and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."
When we are generous, we discover that we continue to have enough to continue to be generous, because we are all connected.
It does take some trust and some reminding of this truth. What have you found that helps dispel that forgetting, what helps to remind oneself of that truth of interconnectivity?
The quote from Jesus is wonderful and poetic. It also defines aspects of karma (another topic for another day).
The bloated ego is not just from forgetfulness of interconnectivity, but also the grasping of a solid and substantial idea of self. (Again, another topic for another day) Even to answer one question automatically involves other important concepts--the interconnectivity of all things!
To answer your question on what I, personally, find helpful to remember and trust in this connection and ultimate non-separation is not always fresh and alive in me. The forgetting is so tied to the weight of attachment to a separate self that only consistent study and meditation can dispel the experience of separation. And I at times lapse in my study and practice, sometimes for short spells and others for embarrassingly long spells.
Being generous is a teaching in Vajrayana Buddhism that softens attachment, so that points to putting knowledge into action. Meditation rooted in compassion for all is another action to unveil the truth of reality of the one and the many. And, I must say, being extremely fortunate to have a Tibetan teacher who exemplifies the teachings of the Buddha so profoundly is a blessing that never fails to assist my growth as a human being, including elevating my level of generosity.
I work every day to better fortify my ‘soul’ in the truth, and in compassion to the best of my ability, which includes the practice of generosity.
The act of giving generously supports the mindset that frees me from the burden of a desperate feeling of need and fear of not having enough. At the same time, having access to great examples of generosity, and the study, and meditation that supports the understanding of the connection between myself and all others, frees me up to give generously. Maybe generosity is about FLOW.
When we dam up the flow by grabbing hold, jealously, of a possession or a small identity of self or a small identification of another, then we bring forth stagnation from what once was life giving flowing water. Maybe growing generosity is about pulling apart the dams. Receiving generously and giving generously allows the flow.
I really love your idea of generosity being a reflection of flow! How beautiful.
When the topic of generosity usually is discussed the ideas of gifts and charities rise to the top of the conversation. If we think about generosity as an iceberg, we have focused in our discussion here on the giant unseen underbelly of the iceberg. I am compelled to make clear that this does not undermine the importance of the tip of the iceberg: Generosity of gifts and time, of paying attention to another, of paying for someone’s meal, important charities ect ect…
The iceberg’s tip is important as our actions as human beings, and the iceberg’s underbelly of generosity’s philosophy is equally important. To understand the deeper meaning of generosity only inspires and fortifies the ACTS of generosity.
Your Wondrous Mind
Conversations between two mindfulness teachers, one Christian the other a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism.