The Seven Stones Blog

What Generosity Gives Back: Part 2 of 2

By Jen Cohen

Read Part 1

Once I received an actual gift of dana from someone – she actually said this is dana for you – and was practicing this form of giving. I was blown away. It came in the form of a $500.00 check over and above fees for services rendered. She was grateful for that which she had received and had an outpouring of the heart, and wanted in return only that I actually receive it, use it, enjoy it. I felt a range of reactions: disoriented, shy, greedy, grateful, egoic and prideful, humbled.

Could the universe actually be this generous, I thought? Or more like, was I willing to see what was right in front of me: an outstretched hand saying here you go, just because, just because I want to, because I love you, because I am moved. And if I saw that I’d have to see it all – hands outstretched everywhere, the hand of spirit outstretched and full of yummy food, fresh air, green grass, warm sun, the miracle of water and air and gravity.

If I did this, then I’d have to give up distrust, and I still don’t know if I am ready to give it up.

Here we come into seeing why the Buddha had us focus our attention on generosity – on giving and receiving. It’s a leap of faith that there is enough for all of us; that everyone matters. It requires us to be trusting, vulnerable, humble and kind. Throughout Buddhist Asia, when the monks come into town each day with their begging bowls, the townspeople, who have very little food for themselves, offer their daily bread. If nothing is offered, the monks do not eat that day. But more often, the offerings are bountiful, so grateful are the townspeople for the service the monks are providing.

In our society getting something for less than it’s worth, finding a bargain, a deal is prized and a sport even. In this other story, giving as much as you can is the sport. Seeing how far you can stretch yourself, how much you can open and trust, this is an act of enough. Getting something for less than it took to create it only fosters distortion and scarcity. What happens when we put our attention on what we have to give, not what we don’t? What happens when we stop looking for a deal and instead foster relationships and the uplifting of communities?

Join the revolution.

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