Awakin.org

Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Make Your Life Into a Giving

--by Jaggi Vasudeva (Dec 27, 2011)


Make your life into a giving. When I say a giving, it is not to be understood as an act. Giving as an act is a deception because, after all, what can you give? Everything that we have, including this body, we have taken from this planet. What we can give is only a paltry part of what we have taken. Giving as an act could be very deceptive and could turn ugly, but if your way of being is giving and your actions are only a manifestation of that, when you open your heart to give, grace invariably seeps in. That is inevitable.

It has been my fortune and privilege that at a very early age, I became witness to a certain state of giving -- my great grandmother who lived to be 113 years of age.  In the morning, if she was given breakfast, she would always go about giving away at least two-thirds of it to the ants, birds and squirrels, particularly to the ants.  People would say, ‘She is throwing all her food around, this old woman will die without eating,' but they all died while she lived.  There were many days where I saw her with a little bit of breakfast that was left on her plate. She would simply sit there, watching the ants eat. Tears would be streaking down her cheeks and when somebody asked, ‘Won't you eat?’ she would say, ‘I'm full. I'm already full.’ It was many years later that I realized her way of transacting with the world. If the ants ate, she was being nourished. A logical mind would never understand this, but it was this nourishment which gave her an extraordinary longevity.
 
Each of us can also make every act and every breath into a process of giving – seeing how we can contribute to everything around us, no matter what we are doing.  In just 24 hours, we will be so rich that the experience of life, the beauty of life, will set a glow on our face because that is the only way life functions.  The whole process of life is a giving. It is a transaction. In every giving there is a taking. We are taking more than we are giving, but in your mind, just ignore the taking. You just keep giving because you do not have to take; it will be pushed into you.
 
There was a man who cleared one hundred acres of forest and made it into farmland. His two sons helped him and they became prosperous. When the man was dying, he called his two sons and told them that the land should never be divided, but the produce should be taken equally, fifty percent, by each son.
 
Accordingly, they went by their father’s word. One of the brothers got married and had five children. The other one never got married. Life went on and they each took fifty percent. One day, a thought entered the mind of the brother who had a wife and five children: "I'm getting fifty percent; my brother is also getting fifty percent. But I have a wife and five children while my brother has nobody. When he gets old, who will take care of him? He should have a little more than me because I have the wealth of my children. But he is too proud; he will not take it from me." So in the dark of the night, he carried a bagful of grain quietly and walked into his brother’s store, dropped this bag and walked back. Whenever he could, he went on doing this.
 
The same thought also entered his brother's mind. He thought, "I am alone, my brother has five children to feed and I am getting fifty percent, but if I give him extra, he will not take it." So he started doing the same thing at night. This went on for many years and both of them never noticed. One night, both of the brothers carrying sacks of grains in secrecy walked towards each other's storehouse and came face to face. Suddenly, they realized what was happening. 
 
--Jaggi Vasudeva


Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

15 Previous Reflections:

 
On Sep 26, 2012 Sethi wrote:
 That was beautiful sharing . when the giving as a way of being , for me there is an an expansion of being and one just gives without thinking , whereas giving as an action , it would be the mind thinking whether to give or not to give and then the action takes place . Giving without ego  is one of the highest form of emotions one can have in one's life .

On Sep 26, 2012 Sundi wrote:
 Beautiful ... I esp love the parable. Thank you for the inspiration and the joy.

On Feb 28, 2012 lanraay wrote:
 i really enjoy this alot.........i ll start giving now, i know it ll be a little bit complicated

On Dec 30, 2011 liz wessel wrote:

I truly enjoyed reading your reflection which has inspired me to live in this way of giving. I've written a reflection in response to your essay called, "How to Stay Glad" it is posted on the Journal of Sacred Work. If interested in reading go to: www.journalofsacredwork.typepad.com

Happy giving!

~liz



On Dec 29, 2011 Dinesh wrote:

Rev. Heng Sure, a beloved Buddhist monk, spoke this last Wednesday.  Below are some audio clips from his talk:

Some excerpts ... How do you determine a lie? Check your intention; words are neutral. What did your teacher advice George W. Bush when he was a US president? Be to be a full-time volunteer. :) Has capitalism failed us? Its hard to say if a system fails us or if its the greed in our minds. How do we steady our practice? Practice is second; practioner is first. How can you not hate the policy makers who make harmful decisions? Remember that policy is different from the policy maker.



On Dec 28, 2011 Jack Spratt wrote:

Kudos & Pax to both Jaggi Vasudeva & Ricky . . . I don't think Jesus was the Christ until after His sacrifice. I've ceased calling/thinking Him "Jesus Christ Super Star." Instead He is now "beloved" or Jesús - jesús = Chuy to me.

Angels, Prophets, Saints and Believers abount beyond the traditional boundaries of prior definitions.

“Ignorant people see life as either existence or non-existence, but wise men see it beyond both existence And non-existence to something that transcends them both this is an observation of the Middle Way.” --Buddha
 



On Dec 27, 2011 John wrote:

The measure of one's spiritual development is the reach of his/her compassion.

J. Davis Pitts



On Dec 27, 2011 Subash wrote:

May we all get the wisdom to become givers, in giving we receive, in sharing we experience the Joy, in sharing are we thankfull, in sharing are we so blessed,

Blessed are those not who do it but who become it.

Joy to the World

Joy to You and Me.

Love



On Dec 27, 2011 David Reddy wrote:

 

No human being can outgive God, please reflect on the following:

During this season of Christmas, we need to pause and meditate on the real reason for Christmas celebration is the birth of Jesus-God himself coming into this earth in the form of a human being so he could give himself away for the love of children(mankind)and they would learn forgiveness of sins and receive salvation.

Jesus is God's gift to mankind and there is nothing we can do to earn it but repent and believe in him.



On Dec 26, 2011 Tam-Tam wrote:

Beautiful sufi tale from Ricky!



On Dec 26, 2011 Thierry wrote:

 Social man (woman), normally, takes from the environment to give his family, to give those he considers to be his own. And not without a lot of travail! It may be only recently that he was encouraged, through organized religions, to extend his instinctive 'generosity' to those he has not himself 'engendered'. All promised a form or other of retribution, a 'spiritual' incentive, in fact, a transaction: do this and you will get that in this world or in the other.  Think about your next life, aquire merits.The yet instinctive, ordinary chap was thus encouraged to become a 'do-gooder', a somewhat more refined and more complex kind of fellow. Up to the present time, where the incentive itself has become more refined and complex: the slogan of a foundation appealing for the leprous will be: 'If you do not love, do not give', meaning, if you do not love you are a cripple yourself. A slogan accurately directed at people's sense  See full.

 Social man (woman), normally, takes from the environment to give his family, to give those he considers to be his own. And not without a lot of travail! It may be only recently that he was encouraged, through organized religions, to extend his instinctive 'generosity' to those he has not himself 'engendered'. All promised a form or other of retribution, a 'spiritual' incentive, in fact, a transaction: do this and you will get that in this world or in the other.  Think about your next life, aquire merits.

The yet instinctive, ordinary chap was thus encouraged to become a 'do-gooder', a somewhat more refined and more complex kind of fellow. Up to the present time, where the incentive itself has become more refined and complex: the slogan of a foundation appealing for the leprous will be: 'If you do not love, do not give', meaning, if you do not love you are a cripple yourself. A slogan accurately directed at people's sense of self-esteem. Who wants to feel he or she is a cripple inside?   

Interestingly, the author states an example of a person giving out of a sense of fullness. Feeding ants, the most invasive of all species after man, as all gardeners know, actually, is a conundrum. And this charming old lady may have meant exactly what she said: that she had little appetite and enjoyed just watching such forms of life. Yet, this may be at the very core of this question of giving as a way of being. Once asked why he gave his entire life to education, for what purpose, with what motivations, the person so adressed answered: ' Do you ask a flower why it gives away its fragrance?' An astounding answer! So, I believe, present day Teachers are well inspired when they address this obscure side in us that feels unfulfilled, lacking, deprived of energy and love.

Hide full comment.

On Dec 24, 2011 David Doane wrote:

This is an important reflection.  Thank you.  And I love the story about the two brothers.  The only thing I think to add to the message is that it is important that the giving be pure, be from the heart,  be for the growth of the giver and the receiver, and that it not be done for any ulterior motive or hidden agenda which can sometimes sneak up on us. 



On Dec 24, 2011 Conrad wrote:

To paraphrase Gandhi; there is no way to giving, giving is the way.

 Warm and kind regards

Happy holidays to everyone. You have my gratitude for your giving.

 



On Dec 24, 2011 Ricky wrote:

Much of the suffering in the world occurs as a result of the perceptions that we are not enough as we are, we do not have enough, we need more than someone else, we are judged by how much we have, or how little we have, and that having equals happiness.  At times, we are also judged by what we have and how we don’t give it away.  So contrived.I feel a bit awkward in expressing this, but here goes.  In the Bhagavad Gita, in the story of Krishna and Arjuna, Chapter Four:  20-22, we learn about the suffering that occurs when we are attached to the outcome of our actions-we are attached to rewards for the result of our actions-our good deeds.  This implies that the action itself is not enough.  This implies that we don’t ‘do’ anything without being tied to and judged by the result.  The proverb “It is better to give than to receive” confuses the real intent of just give.  The Buddha became enlightened and shared th  See full.

Much of the suffering in the world occurs as a result of the perceptions that we are not enough as we are, we do not have enough, we need more than someone else, we are judged by how much we have, or how little we have, and that having equals happiness.  At times, we are also judged by what we have and how we don’t give it away.  So contrived.

I feel a bit awkward in expressing this, but here goes.  In the Bhagavad Gita, in the story of Krishna and Arjuna, Chapter Four:  20-22, we learn about the suffering that occurs when we are attached to the outcome of our actions-we are attached to rewards for the result of our actions-our good deeds.  This implies that the action itself is not enough.  This implies that we don’t ‘do’ anything without being tied to and judged by the result.  The proverb “It is better to give than to receive” confuses the real intent of just give.  The Buddha became enlightened and shared this wonder with others.  Mother Teresa was the embodiment of giving.  Gandhi and Christ gave their lives.  Literature and written oral history are filled with the stories of the ultimate sacrifice.  These all lived knowing that the life we experience here is just part of the journey, and were not attached to this life.  They lived within our cultural morays, but also lived with the universal inner truth that when we live out our experiences here expecting nothing for gain, we are responding to the responsibility for our actions, and letting go of the attachment to the fruits of our actions.

When I first began the yogic journey, the limbs of yoga fascinated me, and the yama (first limb) aparigraha-non attachment, has been the most intriguing.  In the reading this week, especially timed for the holidays and the practice of gift giving as advertised in stores and on the airwaves, there can be an implication of giving and taking, expectations, and judgments.  While this is the human experience, the Self-the Watcher has a different lesson for us.  We are not separate.  We do not exist independent of others or of the earth that sustains us or of the plants, animals, and minerals within this existence that we share this experience with.  This lesson is so expansive we who live within the thinking mind have a hard time wrapping our thoughts around this.  We are here to share.  We are here for the relationships we experience.  We are here to give of our ‘gifts’, our life’s purpose.

How can we cultivate giving as a way of being?  When we are nourished, as the old woman was nourished, by the lives of the ants and how we care for them, giving of what we have, then we are connected to the act of being.  Eckhart Tolle says, ‘You are here to assist the unfolding of the universe-this is how important you are!’  Thich Nhat Hanh: “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” And, “The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.”  Aristotle:  “Friendship is one soul occupying two bodies.”  Howard Thurman:  “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Sylvia Rosetti:  "Genuine kindness is no ordinary act, but a gift of rare beauty."  Gandhi: “I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.  I honor the place in you of light, love, truth, peace, and wisdom.  I honor the place in you where, when you are in that place and I am in that place, there’s only one of us.”  Christ:  "My brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it? Can that faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, 'Good luck to you, keep yourselves warm, and have plenty to eat', but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing."  An Islam tale:  A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.  The traveler left, rejoicing his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious:  Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone .”  Namaste…   

 

Hide full comment.

On Dec 24, 2011 Nita wrote:

 Your story of your grandmother was amazing! My grandmother too lived till a 100 or more (she had no idea how old she was) and spent every morning feeding pigeons before doing anything else. 

The story of the brothers was beautiful too but all that I have seen, sadly, in my experience, is one child coveting the other's wealth. Why can't we ever be satisfied with what we have!

Giving should be a way of being. I love the line from the movie, Hello Dolly, in which Barbara Streisand says "Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow."