I want to take a moment tonight and write about a difficulty of mine, a subject with which I’ve always had great difficulty and wish to improve. I’ve found that I have a hard time being generous; just giving when people around me have need.
If someone asks me for so much as a quarter, I start gauging the worthiness of the request… Thoughts go through my mind, like, “What do they want it for?” or “Will they appreciate it?” or “Will I ever get it returned?”
Sometimes, my mind goes back to a moment when the person has said something unpleasant to me, or maybe I find that their disposition is generally
disagreeable and that it difficult for me to get along with them.
I’m starting to see this thinking as a huge spiritual block for me, and it isn’t just about money, but that is certainly a part of it. Someone asks to borrow my pen and I hesitate. Someone asks me to help them move from one apartment to another, I always seem to be too busy. People have their homes destroyed and I find it hard to part with anything to help, even though my home was left unscathed. Ultimately, however, in every case where I’ve been so moved to give something to another being, no matter how small, I have felt not just good about myself, but happy
Putting it another way, the thoughts in my head make me unhappy, but the act of giving never does.
This is something I believe the Buddha was quite serious about, and I’m sure many other world religions share a common theme on giving to those who need without enmity or selfish considerations. The Dhammapada has two noteworthy verses that touch on the subject (242 and 224 respectively)
Unchastity is the taint in a woman; niggardliness is the taint in a giver. Taints, indeed, are all evil things, both in this world and the next.
Speak the truth; yield not to anger; when asked, give even if you only have a little. By these three means can one reach the presence of the gods.
Further, Bhikkhu Bodhi makes the following comment in the opening section of Dana – The Practice of Giving, which I found on Access to Insight’s website [link] tonight and will be reading over the coming days.
In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development.
I really don’t feel like asking myself why I am the way that I am when it comes to giving. The answer “karma” is clear to me, and even that is merely an excuse. I’m fed up with the hesitation and stalling, and I really want to be a more helpful, giving person. I’ve had good friends and family around to help me when I’ve been down more times than I can count, and I certainly never deserved it any more than anyone else does. I can choose to be better.
As such, I am making a commitment to be more freely giving in the future. When I’m asked for help and I can offer it, I need to let go of all of the judgmental queries and concerns that pop into my mind and simply do it. Of course, that doesn’t mean I intend to forsake the paying of my bills or anything so serious — one has to take his own obligations seriously before tending to the needs of others — but I can move forward on the right path at least. I don’t need to be worry about petty things or try to judge the motives of those who ask of me, no matter how great or small.
Thank you for reading. I hope you are well tonight and find peace. With metta, friends.