I know, it’s the holiday’s. You might be thinking, “Oh know, another talk about giving…!”
Yes, I’m writing about it because it’s the holiday’s, but I’m also writing about it because it was the very first teaching of the Buddha whenever he taught.
The very first one every time (of hundreds of teachings). It was purposely the first one because giving releases attachment.
What do I mean by attachment?
It’s when you donate your money, but it’s with a grudge. It’s when you give your time, but you have resentment for giving your time. It’s when you don’t give because you believe there won’t be more where that came from (whether it’s time or money).
I know attachment well, because that was me. Grudging and resentment for giving. “There’s only so much time in the day…” “I only have xxx amount of money. Hell no, if I’m going to give $10 to… I might run out.”
The teaching, on the other hand, got me out of my head and started the IDEA of letting go of what I thought was “mine.”
I brought nothing with me into this life, and I’ll take nothing with me when I leave this life, so why am I holding on so tight? Because that’s what my ego believes will keep me “safe.”
Mmm – safe. Funny what we think safe is and how to get it. Only it holds us back from experiencing so much of life – and ultimately from being free from suffering.
I decided in my quest for freedom I’d try this idea of generosity. The kind of generosity that exists without attachment. Here’s what I mean.
When you give something, no matter what it is, are you quietly expecting a “thank you” in return? If so, that is attachment. What if you were to give without any expectation of anything, nadda, not even a thank you? You give secretly without acknowledgement, without anyone knowing what you did?
It’s a different way of being with giving. It doesn’t have to be money or material gifts, it can be your time, dinner, a hug, a smile, an errand, a pat on the back, a listening ear, a comforting home, shoveling your neighbors walk, a ride to the grocery store, caring for a pet, and so much more.
Here’s the thing though. Watch out for giving yourself away. Find the balance between giving to yourself, and giving to others. How do you know when you give too much to others? You’ll feel resentful of them or even yourself.
So what do you want to give this holiday season? And how do you want to be with yourself in giving? Notice when you expect a thank you in return. Notice when you want something back. And be kind with yourself when you notice. It’s not bad or wrong to expect something, it’s just showing you where you’re attached – something that every human being on the planet experiences.
May you enjoy giving this holiday season, and throughout the year. There is incredible freedom and joy in it!