Arriving Home :: Generous Mind. Generous Heart.
“The more you give, the more you receive.” Ever heard this one? In a lot of new age spirituality, this refers to the law of giving and receiving. Stating that the amount of good things coming your way is directly proportional to how much you give. Intuitively, I have always paused around this. As when we really take a look at the mechanics behind this statement, you find that there is a push and a pull - a give and a gain. Only if you give, then will you receive. The under tones are one of a transactional nature. Give to take, take to give.
I subscribed to this affirmative philosophy for many years. Underneath it, even though my giving often felt conditional, I didn’t expect reciprocity in the moment. Subconsciously, I was giving in a “pay it forward” type of way - giving to get good things in the future at some point.
I was first introduced to the philosophy of dana when I started to attend mindfulness meditation sits. As you would enter the classrooms or meditation halls, you are greeted by a big, beautiful ceremonial bowl or bell where practitioners would be placing their dana - the money or financial reciprocity for the teachings they were about to receive. There wasn’t a specific amount needed or suggested, and the only sign next to the word dana was “no one turned away for lack of funds.”
Giving From The Heart
Though it wasn’t immediate, what I began to learn from dana - or the practice of generosity, was that giving didn’t have to be based on a form of transaction or an underlining give in order to receive. And the more I practiced meditation, the freer I felt to give simply to give. It didn’t matter if I was giving enough to receive - what mattered was the place from which I was giving. A free unconditioned place not attached to the outcomes or judgment of what would happen from my generosity.
These days we most often associate generosity with financial or material giving. Even the term generosity can say you have enough extra money to be philanthropic. While being financially generous and philanthropic is a vital part of the practice of giving, there are several ways to be generous outside of money. Especially when we begin to give from the heart.
Making Generosity A Practice
Peeling back the essence of giving and being willing to give more from the heart means we start to remove the layers of transaction often associated with money or ‘the more you give, the more you receive.’
Being heart-centered with your giving can mean you are generous with your attention, your patience, your flexibility, your time, kindness or even generous with the love you give in partnership and friendship. Taking the measuring, needing and wanting out of the equation as you give from the heart also helps train the mind to be generous. We become more able to give from the mind and heart in unification, knowing that we simply and deeply want the best for the person or people we are giving to.
The following questions we can ask others are ways I have found to give through attention, awareness and the heart:
How are you?
Are you okay?
How can I help?
How can I be of service?
How is your heart?
How is your happiness?
In the Buddhist tradition, generosity or dana is a spiritual practice meant to help cleanse and purify the giver. The more you give from the heart and a calm, steady mind, the more lighter, happier and freer you will feel. To be generous is a virtue held alongside practices such as compassion, metta and mindfulness. So to create a presence of generosity in your heart and mind soon turns into a practice too, and a way of being in true service. My hope is that we can create a new phrase surrounded giving and receiving: “The more you give, the more freedom you create”. Freedom and unconditional love for yourself and others.