By Sandra Domingos
When we give, for a minute we’re released from thoughts on how we are, how we were, how we will be, how individuals view us, how we could be, how we should be, and so forth. It’s the tape that continues playing in our mind. When we give with an exposed heart, we remember that we’re not alone
You might want to say “What? Naturally I know I’m not alone!” True. But let’s attempt an experiment. In order for this experimentation to work, you need to be strained. You’re not? Kudos, you’re apparently an angel and can stop studying now. The experimentation is for the rest of us who hurl towards everyday life. We try to finish work, buy groceries, attend work affairs, organize schedules, plan celebrations, contact family and friends, clean the home, and do a lot of other things – even though time seems to be in short supply.
Ok, so you and I are strained, right? My question to you is: When strained, what percentage of waking time do you spend thinking of your own life? Include thoughts about your work, preparation thoughts, thoughts about the past, ideas about pressing tasks, and thoughts about your relationship with other people.
The higher the stress, the more we become rolled up in our own life, and when we’re rolled up in our own life, we get oblivious to the fact that there are others ‘out there’, and that they have troubles and needs too. That’s where the miracle of giving comes out. When we give with an exposed heart, we abruptly wake up from the old tapes and feel linked to others.
That’s why the Buddhist tradition sets Dana, the path of unselfishness, as the first of the ten Perfections. Dana implies freely giving of one’s material goods, time or wise advice to others. Dana is the first of the ten Perfections as unselfishness is a fundamental ambition from which all spirituality flows. For instance, unselfishness is the basis of kindness and compassion. When we give with a virtuous heart, we feel elated.
What is a virtuous heart? It’s giving without any thought of restitution. Actually, our motives for giving are often tinted with ‘unclean’ motives: perhaps we’re shamed or browbeaten into giving; or we give to receive a privilege; or we give in order to feel good about ourselves.
Each act of giving comes forth from that core of goodness, even though layers of mixed need might cloud our natural ambition of generosity. If we touch that core of goodness, we feel moved. This is natural giving. Give freely, and relish how your core of goodness is touched.