The Hand of Generosity

Elaine CasapWhat an incredible feeling it is to have all that we wish for. That thought alone may trigger a deep inhalation and exhalation, signifying a lack of any worries and sense of completion. How magnificent would it be for us to know that every day we have nothing to be worried or feel anxious about? I believe words may not truly describe such a significant moment. However, there are times we did get exactly what we hoped for and felt an immediate sense of ease and gratification, yet those moments become quickly replaced by thoughts of what we do not have and what else we are missing in our lives. Worry and anxiety are finally settled and yet quickly replaced by their twin feelings. Why?

It seems that when we get exactly what we hoped for, not something close, but the exact experience or thing we once imagined, we are at ease. Who then decides to replace our sense of accomplishment, ease and balance, with a sense of lack, friction and unbalance? We do. Not our peers, not our community, not our coworkers, not our friends and family, but us. We seek simplicity and cover it with complexity, because simple is what we often do not understand. The mere mention of simplicity in our lives need not be analyzed by a complex and systematic process of reasoning, it simply must remain as is, without a need for knowing but encompass a sense of acceptance. When we look to situations or people who are not as privileged as us, at this very moment, we may begin to see that what we give is often greater than what we get.

Looking back on our lives, reflecting on stories of the past and seeing how the daily lives of others vary across our planet, we may begin to realize that gaining more does not always bring with it increased happiness and a feeling of completion. To a white collar worker employed in a large city, a mobile phone or small computer may be the singular object that can help that worker complete all that they set out to accomplish, professionally and personally. Inversely, to a local herbalist in a remote village, a small garden may be the most important thing they require to achieve their daily duties and provide a personal sense of gratification. A small personal computer or a small herbal garden both allow the user to serve others by giving more of themselves. The resulting feelings these acts can produce are often quite pleasant, so the user may commonly want to experience these feelings more often, and they may logically want to provide more service and faster, to reach more people or achieve more lofty corporate goals in the process. It is here that the once trusted smart phone or mini-computer and potent herbal garden, become insufficient and seemingly hinder our acts of service by restricting us to what we have, not what we want. But has our sense of generosity become less valuable or less appreciated? No

Generosity is not a singular exchange but an act that mirrors itself. The giver also becomes the receiver, but we must acknowledge this reflective element to experience it. Our sense of confusion derives from this temporary lack of understanding. We aim to serve and become frustrated when our scale of service does not expand. Yet when we act in service of others we are expanding our scope in ways we overlook. When we help, heal, serve and give, those same things are shared by the ones we first shared with, and ultimately they are then given back to us in ways unexpected and unforeseen.

We must realize that being generous to others is not the entire scope of the act. Generosity itself must also be applied to ourselves, we must be the ones who first shower ourselves with the love which generosity holds, before we expect anyone or any situation to provide it for us. Knowing that wanting to serve others on a grander scale and experiencing more of the rewarding feelings accompanied by this service, will always be fleeting, we must quiet our excessive need for more – no matter how loving our intentions – so that we can experience the totality of this act. This striving for more is akin to taking a bucket of water from the ocean because we want to experience the soothing feeling of cool ocean water, at all times. The bucket of water or ever present association to the ocean, is not the joy, serenity and sense of balance we got from the ocean itself, it is our need to complicate a matter of simplicity, which actually strips us from what we desire. If we are floating in the ocean and experiencing such a carefree, pleasurable moment, we need not shift to a mindset of lack, anxiety and worry, in order to enjoy our experience. The bucket of water will not produce what we seek, it will only add to our sense of disappointment we mentally conjured up ourselves. To experience the joy of being in the ocean is to think of nothing but your moment of bliss in the water, not how long it will last, not when will it happen next, not how can you have this feeling during your commute to work, not anything which adds complexity to a sense of simplicity.

To offer a hand of generosity is to also understand that the hand of the giver is our own. It is already part of us as we are part of the act itself. We are never separate from the feelings this act produces, we are the action, we are the givers, we are the receiver and we are the feelings. To sabotage ourselves mentally by masking our sense of balance and joy with anxiety and frustration, actually diminishes our ability to serve. Our need for excessive complexity and analysis takes us further away from what we seek.

Ego says, once everything falls into place, I’ll find peace. Spirit says, find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.
– Marianne Williamson


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