The Seven Stones Blog

Generosity: How We Rouse the Sleeping Dragon of Separation

By Jen Cohen

“Your heart is your home. Your mind your office. Don’t get them confused.”

Here at Seven Stones, and in all of the teachings I study, there is talk of unwinding the armoring against separation and isolation and dropping into our heart center. I have been a diligent student: opening to the suffering of the world, opening to my own suffering, building some kind of muscle to withstand the strange world we inhabit so full of mind bending paradox, so full of such astonishing beauty and an equal measure of cruelty. And the more I drop into the teaching, the more I open.

Then, when I approach the world with this openness, I’ve noticed that often there are these blank stares facing back at me, maybe dismay, maybe even revulsion.

And I start to wonder: Is this openness worth it? Can I stand it?

One of our practices here in the Seven Stones lab is giving. We donate at least 5% of our earnings overall, and we have a giving account. Each quarter we make decisions about where to give. As opposed to other years when we’ve given in more traditional ways to non-profit organizations, this year, so far, we have chosen to give only to people we actually know. I love this idea. I love the idea of catching each other in this way. Weaving this web of social fabric around all of us this viscerally is a direct practice of sufficiency.

For example: We gave money to a dear friend who wanted her child to get some alternative care. Then we gave money to another friend for the same purpose. Then to someone right here at Seven Stones we gave money so she could offer her child the care she really wanted to give. These acts of generosity have been so totally gratifying. They seem so right to offer, and I notice are so challenging to receive.

I think we have been conditioned to have it be easier to send a donation to a charity half way across the world than to give to someone really close to me, right here, and to simply share what I have. I’ve noticed that money is the most difficult to offer. Somehow gifting clothes or food or a dinner or a ride home do not ignite quite the same forces of separation and scarcity that offering actual money does. Giving actual money to each other seems to rouse the sleeping dragon of individualism, scarcity and separation like nothing I have experienced.

Knowing someone could use a hand, offering that hand, being with how it flies in the face of our supposed ability to handle everything on our own, and then actually having someone receive it – is a radical process of breaking down the walls of isolation. If you want a practice that gets to the heart and soul of sufficiency try giving money to someone you know who could use some. And if you dare, let us know what unfolded.

 

 

One thought on “Generosity: How We Rouse the Sleeping Dragon of Separation

  1. Hi Jen,

    There seem to be two threads here, one about the reactions to openness in dialogue and interactions, and the other is about gifting money for no special occasion than just giving.

    I see the connection between these two threads because, like other coaches I admire, you are courageous enough to practice what you preach, even if it breaks with convention.

    Such is the case with gifting money to friends: it breaks with convention. Social norms dictate that friends avoid the topic of money altogether, leaving it only for families or professionals to talk about in any specific detail. Challenging these norms is bound to make people uncomfortable. On the receiving end it could be perceived as a negative: “Do I appear to be needy? Does she think she’s better than me?” The giver could be trumping himself up: “Look how generous I am. I’m such a generous person.” Or could be giving because “it’s the right thing to do” but there’s no real heart quality in it.

    It is interesting to think about whether there is an up/down relationship with respect to giving (as in someone is on a pedestal and someone else is beneath–perhaps the ‘haves’ are higher and the ‘have nots’ are lower) with regard to generosity and giving. There is always the question of motives and how to interpret motives. So, from this point, it is an open question as to whether sufficiency or ‘having’ is relative and depends on someone who “has not.” With that mindset there might be a lot of attachment and it might actually continue a sense of separation. Overcoming isolation through generosity seems to require a great deal of relatedness and non-attachment.

    Thanks for some good food for thought.

    Michael

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