“When we are connected wholeheartedly with others and the world, generosity is not a matter of deciding to give; giving simply flows out of us.” —Gil Fronsdal
Gratitude Engenders Generosity
When we experience gratitude, we feel connected to ourselves, life around us, and others. There is a deep stirring in the heart and mind of thankfulness. Rather than only seeing what is missing, we see clearly what we do have and its preciousness.
We recognize what we have been given, the power of these Buddhist teachings, and we feel their full potential to live with compassion and wisdom. We are present for life’s small wonders, the song of the mockingbird, the feeling of cool fresh air on our skin, our awe in seeing the open vast sky, and another human being’s smiling face.
We are able to say “yes” to life, to count our blessings, retraining our brain to see the good rather than complaining and seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. We feel the abundance in our life and it puts life in perspective. There is a “welling up” in the chest; the fullness is present.
At these times, we want to give back for these blessings. We want to naturally, spontaneously share life’s simple riches. The original first teaching of the Buddha was generosity. He knew that generosity sets a path in an important direction: to feel more, be connected with others, share the wealth, release greed, separation, and isolation. He knew there is more strength and power in being inclusive.
There are two meanings for generosity in Buddhist teachings. Dana (Pali) is the word for giving and having a “delight for giving, before, during, and after.” Dana is what we offer for the teachings, or it could be being present for listening deeply to another.
The other meaning of generosity comes from the word cage (Pali) which means relinquishment, renunciation, giving something up, or letting go. It allows us to freely release and give more than what is required. Its image is of an open hand. We can learn the value of giving and receiving without attachment. The Buddha said that when you are in the act of giving say to yourself, “I am being generous,” to gladden and open the heart. This is not ego speaking but recognizing and encouraging open-hearted deeds.
This holiday season, take time to remember the deeper meaning of these powerful qualities of mind and action, the virtues of appreciation and giving and receiving; it will deeply nourish you.
Please view the class flier on “Five Spiritual Qualities of Heart and Mind,” which begins with a teaching on generosity. And take the opportunity to start the New Year off by joining our Desert Insight Meditation book study group beginning on Wednesday, January 16, for the new book, Emptiness, by Guy Armstrong.