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The Spirit of Gift

--by Satish Kumar (Jun 19, 2012)


We have learned much from the native Americans, the Australian Aboriginals, the indigenous people of India (adivasis) and the Bushmen of Africa. We have been guided by Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Mohammed and Mahavir. We have been inspired by Valmiki, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Jane Austen and many other writers. We have benefited from the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King. 
 
They were not motivated by fame, fortune or power.  Buddha claimed no copyright on his teachings, and Shakespeare received no royalty cheques. We have been enchanted by music, paintings, architecture and crafts of many cultures, from time immemorial. We have received a treasure house of traditions as a free gift. In return we offer our work, our creativity, our arts and crafts, our agriculture and architecture as gifts to society to present and future generations. 
 
When we are motivated by this spirit then work is not a burden. It is not a duty. It is not a responsibility. We are not even the doers of our work. Work flows through us and not from us. We do not own our intellect, our creativity, or our skills. We have received them as a gift and grace. We pass them on as a gift and grace; it is like a river which keeps flowing. All the tributaries make the river great. We are the tributaries adding to the great river of time and culture; the river of humanity. 
 
If tributaries stop flowing into the river, if they become individualistic and egotistical, if they put terms and conditions before they join the rivers, they
will dry and the rivers will dry too. To keep the rivers flowing all tributaries have to join in with joy and without conditions. In the same way, all individual arts, crafts and other creative activities make up the river of humanity. We need not hold back, we need not block the flow. This is unconditional union. This is the great principle of  'dana' (offering). This is how society and civilizations are replenished.
 
When we write a poem we make a gift. When we paint a picture or build a
beautiful house we make a gift. When we grow flowers and cook food we make a gift. When all these activities are performed as sacred acts, they nourish society. When we are unselfconscious, unacquisitive, and act without desire for recognition or reward, when our work emerges from a pure heart like that of a child, our actions become a gift.
 
--Satish Kumar, in You Are, Therefore I am


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11 Previous Reflections:

 
On Sep 3, 2012 Swamy Vigyananand wrote:
 The only thing better than 'spirit of gift', perhaps is 'gift of spirit' both metaphorical and literally! (...and good book, good read, good food, good company & good sex... etc.!)

On Jun 24, 2012 Pruthviraj jamdade wrote:
 Really, it's ainspirational story , only we have to concentrate while reding..SATISH you have done a good job

On Jun 22, 2012 Douglas wrote:
i love this piece 

On Jun 22, 2012 KK wrote:
Satish says - "When we are unselfconscious, unacquisitive, and act without desire for recognition or reward, when our work emerges from a pure heart like that of a child, our actions become a gift." - which is essentially paraphrasing what Sri Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, one of the sacred texts of Hinduism. Now there is no copyright on that, but that said why is Satish hesitating to at least attribute that message to Sri Krishna, Bhagavad Gita and Hindusim. And to top it how he thanks everyone but Sri Krishna - is it a case of hiding the sources? And the term 'adivasis' - very funny, falling for the Aryan invasion tripe- hook, line and sinker.

On Jun 19, 2012 Narendra Devadas wrote:
The greatest gift is the gift of love and acceptance. All religions have been accepted and temples built for them by the Hindus for over 2000 years.  It is interesting that , in his list of greatness, Mr: Satish  Kumar avoids mentioning Hinduism, Krishna or even the Bhagavad Gita, which emphasize universal love and tolerance instead of a local philosophy of being better than others. Hinduism is the mother of many other tolerant, non-violent  religions and philosophies.

On Jun 19, 2012 Megha TAnk wrote:
 One Gift I received was from an old blind man.The gift was in the form of blessings when I helped him go where he wanted to. His heart was filled with gratitude and although he didnt keep his hand on my head, his blessings spread in me by the way he held my hand. Really gratefull for being his helping hand. The sheer feeling that whatever I am doing is a gift to the universe as a whole is beautiful. One way our developing our heart to be pure enough to gift and accept gifts is by being aware of each experience. Thank YOu. :)


On Jun 19, 2012 blokes wrote:
 Yes, indeed. Building dams across flowing water is like setting IP rights. I always share with my high schoolers the example of Salks and Pasteur who dedicated themselves for the betterment of humanity through the sciences. Once the shift from doer to work manifesting through us happens, the "burden" of "work" drops off.

On Jun 19, 2012 Edit Lak wrote:
There is nothing more to say - this says it ALL.  If in our worldly travels and our ego building exercises of our closed eye perceptions of selfless in life, if to never get ‘It’ to never understand the thing that everyone is looking for, then Satish Kumar just explained it beautifully, in-fact it is the ‘it’ the explanation, this story is the true ‘gift’, the words connecting with the soul.. I’m humbled.. Thank you

On Jun 19, 2012 Pratibha wrote:

Beautifully stated!



On Jun 16, 2012 David Doane wrote:
 The spirit of a gift is that it is a gift, not earned or deserved.  As I see it, the process of the spirit of a gift starts with being true to myself, listening to my inner truth (which is a gift to me), allowing it, accepting it, and sharing it (which is a gift to others).  It's a process of letting the truth in me sound through me, without agenda -- at times that is dangerous and takes courage, and there are times I have done it and it has been very satisfying, such that my heart swells.  I assume we develop our heart to be pure so gifting becomes effortless by having less and less ego and by practicing giving sincerely the gift of our own truth. 

On Jun 15, 2012 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:
 Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  Satish must be a great person. My heart overflowed and became swollen when a poor man in a big city gave me the gift of allowing me to notice his looking for food in a 4' x 3' garbage can. He seemed to be very hungry. His gift to me was the look on his face when I gave him two dollars to buy some food.  It was truly a heartwarming experience.  It was like being in heaven.  My reward of the smile on his face was worth infinitely more than the two dollars I gave him.  This seems to come from the belief taught of all great people that it is at least as good, and probably better, to give than to receive and to console rather than seek to be consoled. Warm and kind regards to everyone.