Generosity Helps Us Accept Change

Sharon Salzberg

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Awakin FeatureThe aim of practicing generosity is twofold, or else it’s an incomplete experience.

The first aim is to free our minds from the conditioned forces that bind and limit us. Craving, clinging and attachment bring confinement and lack of self-esteem. If we’re always looking for some person or thing to complete us, we miss the degree to which we are complete in every moment. It’s a bit like leaning on a mirage only to find that it can’t hold us; there’s nothing there.

When we are continually moved by looking for the next experience and the next pleasure, it’s like going from one mirage to another. We have no security. Nothing is holding us up. We practice generosity to free the mind from that delusion, to weaken the forces of craving and clinging so we can find essential happiness.

We also practice generosity to free others, to extend welfare and happiness to all beings, to somehow, as much as each one of us can, lessen the suffering in this world. When our practice of generosity is genuine, when it’s complete, we realize inner spaciousness and peace, and we also learn to extend boundless caring to all living beings.

The movement of the heart in practicing generosity mirrors the movement of the heart that lets go inside. So the external training of giving deeply influences the internal feeling-tone of the meditation practice, and vice versa. If we cultivate a generous heart, then more and more we can unconditionally allow things to be the way they are. We can accept the truth of the present moment, rather than continually impose conditions on what’s going on: it must be this way or that way or you can’t be happy. Your sitting must be perfect or you won’t be happy. You must have no restlessness or you won’t feel good about yourself. Reality moves along outside of our control, and yet we impose all of these conditions on it. Generosity allows that whole project to start to fall away.

The strength of our generosity is a primary factor in our ability to accept change.

Sharon Salzberg is a long-time meditation teacher; excerpt above from this article.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that the strength of our generosity is a primary factor in our ability to accept change? Can you share a personal story of a time when you could see the movement of your heart in practicing generosity mirroring the movement of your heart letting go inside? What helps you cultivate a generous heart?

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6 Previous Reflections:

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    On Feb 1, 2019 Jodyne wrote:
    Q: How do you relate to the notion that
    the strength of our generosity is
    a primary factor in our ability
    to accept change?
    A: I see change happening after
    awareness of any particular issue or need is noted,
    and the heart is engaged in the choice.
    When the heart is free of any domestication,
    free of anyone else's expectation,
    and when we feel free to do as we want.
    My generosity happens when
    the mind is set free and
    the heart can engage without restriction.

    Q: Can you share a personal story of a time
    when you could see
    the movement of your heart
    in practicing generosity
    mirroring the movement of your heart
    letting go inside?
    A: No; I'm not sure I understand the question.

    Q: What helps you cultivate a generous heart?
    To practice awareness.



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    On Jan 29, 2019 Barbara wrote:
    I realized one day I was very upset with my older sister because I was wanting her to act a certain way.....to replace my mother who had passed away. I wanted her to love me as my mother had done. But she wasn't my mother and wasn't acting according to what I thought I needed. One day I realized I needed to give her something rather than get something from her . I needed to see and appreciate her for who she really is so I sent her a card in which I wrote down many of her gifts to the world....which didn't exactly include me directly but for which she should be acknowledged and valued. I cried when I wrote it...perhaps letting go of the illusion and attachments that I had and I sent the letter. She told me she cried too when she received it. It took a generosity of heart on my part to let go of the delusion and my own suffering around it. It brought peace to me when it was meant as a gift to her. It was a huge shift for me and it opened the "heart waves" between u... [View Full Comment] I realized one day I was very upset with my older sister because I was wanting her to act a certain way.....to replace my mother who had passed away. I wanted her to love me as my mother had done. But she wasn't my mother and wasn't acting according to what I thought I needed. One day I realized I needed to give her something rather than get something from her . I needed to see and appreciate her for who she really is so I sent her a card in which I wrote down many of her gifts to the world....which didn't exactly include me directly but for which she should be acknowledged and valued. I cried when I wrote it...perhaps letting go of the illusion and attachments that I had and I sent the letter. She told me she cried too when she received it. It took a generosity of heart on my part to let go of the delusion and my own suffering around it. It brought peace to me when it was meant as a gift to her. It was a huge shift for me and it opened the "heart waves" between us.  [Hide Full Comment]

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    On Jan 29, 2019 Beatriz wrote:
    Generosity is also about letting others be and do what they need to, even if it does not benefit us...

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    On Jan 28, 2019 vidya rao wrote:
    Kindness, simplicity plays an important role in our life. Treat every human beings like your brothers and sisters.
    The more we expect from others, more we become unhappy in life. Less expectation, accepting the truth, detachment in life helps you to reach your goal.
    But one should never back off from their responsibilities and duties. Those who are dependent on us should not suffer because of our negligence.
    My Guru says, Family is the best play ground teaches you how to tolerate others. Being in day today life, it will teach you every stage of life, dealing with different type of behaviours. 

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    On Jan 27, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    True or genuine generosity is unconditional with no expectation in return. It is pure and not contiminated by my agenda such as what am I goung to get by my generous act. In this sense it is free from any bondage. When I do such generous act my heart gets filled with joy, happines.. When I do a generous act to get something in return or impose any conditon or I manupalate the other, it is not genuine and free. Yesterday, my friends came to my house discuss Breakfast with Buddha in our Book Club. Two of my friends waited to chat with me after the meeting. Both of them looked at my library and their faces indicate their desire to have a couple of books from a book sture. I felt their their desire and I joyfully offered the books they liked in my library. Our faces shone with light of joy. It is by giving we receive. Such offering from our heart cultivates our attitude and ability to go with the flow and accept what happens. Namaste! Jagdish Dave... [View Full Comment] True or genuine generosity is unconditional with no expectation in return. It is pure and not contiminated by my agenda such as what am I goung to get by my generous act. In this sense it is free from any bondage. When I do such generous act my heart gets filled with joy, happines..

    When I do a generous act to get something in return or impose any conditon or I manupalate the other, it is not genuine and free.

    Yesterday, my friends came to my house discuss Breakfast with Buddha in our Book Club. Two of my friends waited to chat with me after the meeting. Both of them looked at my library and their faces indicate their desire to have a couple of books from a book sture. I felt their their desire and I joyfully offered the books they liked in my library. Our faces shone with light of joy. It is by giving we receive. Such offering from our heart cultivates our attitude and ability to go with the flow and accept what happens.

    Namaste!
    Jagdish Dave[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Jan 26, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    Only true generosity frees the mind Generosity that is goal-directed, such as generosity done in order to complete me or done to make me feel good about myself or done to please the other or get what I want, is not true generosity and is not freeing. Generosigy that is conditional, to use the author's word, such as generosity done to impose or try to control, is not true and is not freeing. Generosity that is freeing is pure and genuine, free of agendas, not outcome bound, not controlling or manipulative. Generosity that is freeing reflects and fosters ability to accept what happens. When my generosity is true, my heart is light, full, and free. True generosity is its own reward and helps me cultivate a generous heart.

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