Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What We Can Give?

At this time of year, it can be helpful to remember that giving can mean more than exchanging holiday material gifts.

What else can we give to each other?

In the Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings, Thich Nhat Hahn identifies six aspects of giving.

We can give our:

PRESENCE: spending time with people

STABILITY: being loving and calm, without harboring anger, stress, sadness

MATERIAL GIFTS: within one's means, to those who are impoverished

FRESHNESS: wholeness, beginning anew, offering forgiveness

UNDERSTANDING: wisdom; offering support and reassurance to the ill and dying, so they do not feel alone

SPACIOUSNESS: non-clinging, practicing equanimity by tempering our demands of people.

"When we give these things, they grow in abundance in ourselves, and this can be applied globally as well."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Wishing all of you abundant riches as described above!

(Thanks to my good friend, Debra Birkinshaw who gave me this reminder to pass along here!)


Paul C said...

There is so much guidance and inspiration here in this framework for giving. Best wishes to you, Dan, and your family for the holidays.

steven said...

dan such goodness here! the beauty of an act of quality is that it isn't bound by qauntity and so doing something" small" and doing something really "huge" in the qualitative world are one and the same thing. bringing goodness into the world is one motivating factor in being in this world. peace fullness steven

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Paul. It's so easy for me to caught up in the "what have I bought for xx?" or "have I bought enough stuff for yy?" And those thoughts can obscure the other five--or more--ways of giving.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, steven, yes it's really clear to me that you're motivated by bringing goodness and beauty into this world. And I among many others thank you for it.

Bonnie said...

How good to be reminded that our point of view, our stance in life, our approach with people can be a gift beyond measure. Thank you Dan, for all you give here. May you and yours hold each other tight over this holiday season.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Bonnie, thank you. Of course we already know this, especially from the times when we've been the recipients of another person's presence, stability, forgiveness, wisdom, and spaciousness.

The trick is remembering how meaningful it is to receive these gifts and then resolve to pass them along, to pay them forward, as it were.

George said...

Wonderful, Dan!. I wish that everyone in my family could be guided by these little principles during the holiday season. May you and your family have the best of holidays and find many blessings in the new year.

LauraX said...

Presence is always my favorite present to give and receive! Thank you for this beautiful post.

blessing to you!

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, George, and the same to you!

Dan Gurney said...

LauraX, yes, when we encounter someone with strong presence we are immediately attracted to it. Like you, it's among my favorite of gifts on either end of the exchange. Thanks for commenting.

Sabio Lantz said...

Reminds me of the various kinds of intelligence. Here you have the various kinds of giving. Helps people realize there are lots of ways to be smart and to give.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks, Sabio. Yes, exactly! Giving material presents is wonderful and all, but it can make it difficult to see the other forms of generosity available to us. These other forms of generosity are real and really important. Very similar to other forms of intelligence. Thank you for the comment.

Shaista said...

Wonderful wonderful Thay! I just see his face and I smile, and bow. Do you know I made him a book of poetry once, and he read the poems aloud to the monks and nuns from Plum Village who were visiting England with him. And my mother had drawn a portrait of him as a young man, and he was very surprised to see it :)

Dan Gurney said...

Wow, Shaista, that's wonderful! It always amazing to me to learn how many the links I have to people like Thay and the Dalai Lama. Here's another one to Thay. I've never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but I feel very connected to him in so many ways and through many people. Thanks for sharing this.