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"The Art of Giving"

kula magazine volume #16

Desa Seni, A Village Resort

Bali, Indonesia

Over the years I've often found myself in a place of giving, I've given time, energy, food, clothing, shelter, money and love, but to name a few. In more recent times I've discovered through my own experience that my giving wasn't always given the right way. Maybe you've been there too, or are passing through such similarities now. Perhaps you are a taker instead, that's a whole other story, one that will be talked about here too. So let's start there then…

A taker, by my definition, not necessarily a bad place to be, someone who is unable to give, ends up taking. We've been a bit brainwashed and conditioned to believe that taking is a negative thing.  And yes, in some cases it is, especially when it's illegal or immoral, but overall, taking teaches us how to give. Let's rename it as receiving; it's an opportunity to grow, to see oneself on the other side of the fence. When one takes, it doesn't mean that they are taking advantage of you, or taking what isn't needed or deserved. Taking is actually the responsibility of the other person. No one can take anything from you that you haven't given. Whether freely and openly or subconsciously, you decide to make that a negative experience, just as you can decide to see it as a positive one, one where you get to look beyond yourself and see another being is in need of your generosity. When someone consistently takes, ask yourself how it is happening? You will clearly see that it is because you allow it to. If you don't like these conditions, give the situation space and love and see what happens next. You're not hurting anyone by not giving, although the taker, or I should say the receiver, may interpret that differently, it is entirely up to you to know the volition behind it. And if it is with good intentions, perhaps you are helping them by not helping them, then that's all there is to it, no guilt involved. 

So this brings me to the next part: giving. There really is an art to it, you just have to understand it first, and fortunately it's pretty simple to grasp. Giving is a one-way flow, you do it just because you can, or want to, or are compelled to but with the right motivation, to give without expectation. This is the key; this will make everyone happy; there will never be any unnecessary questioning in future as long as it's given this way. As soon as you have that intention to give, whether it be material, love or energy, then go for it, and give without desire for return.  Everything is coming back to you even if you don't see it instantly, or ever. The moment you make that decision, something happens in your mind and body - you feel peaceful that you've come to another beings aid, and without hesitation, it's truly a noble act. 

A personal story here. I've always been a giver, it's my nature, but in the past I gave with the wrong volition, although I thought the intentions were just, still it was unhealthy. I was a dream girlfriend in all of my relationships, I'd give anything from money to sex to love to clothes to gifts, oh the list could go on for novels, but I've only got a page. I gave because I thought that was what my man needed at the time. It came from a good place, so I thought, but actually it wasn't.  I realize now that I was giving in silent hope that it would be reciprocated, not identically, but in one form only, the form of love. 

Yes, I was feeding my addiction; I wanted to be loved so badly that I felt if I gave and gave and gave, it would eventually come back. I almost died from holding my breath so long; blue, by the way, is not a good color for faces, unless you're a Smurf. I dug myself into a deep financial hole because of the hole in my spirit. I was disconnected and giving was no longer working, if it had actually ever worked at all. 

True, things are always coming back to you. It's never how you gave it, or when, or to whom, or what it was, but it's always coming back. The only way to truly know this is to stop giving with expectation and you will feel far more satisfied when you give. You won't be carrying around a running tally about who owes what and when it's due. Nope, you'll be strolling along with a smile in your heart knowing that you've put your ego aside and given in the moment. And now that the moment has passed, you still get to carry that joy in your heart every time you think about your friend, or stranger, or cause, or sentient being for whom you make a bit of a difference in an otherwise, at times, miserable universe.

About four years ago, I did my first Vipassana meditation course, as taught by S. N. Goenka, and it was then that things started to become clearer and clearer. I was starting to come out of my ego and seeing that it's not all about me, that everyone needs support, support of all kinds, and I've made it my mission to continue unravelling this big wad of knotted string. I realized through these courses that I had been giving from the wrong place, and although I can't go back in time and rectify those situations, I came out with new found wisdom that the only way giving can be pure, is to give authentically from your authentic self. When I started to see myself from a different t perspective I came to realize that it's okay to help, but only if I've helped myself first.

The other side of giving; many times people want to give, maybe to a friend or family member, maybe to a cause or charity, but the giving becomes selective and that doesn't really help.  The best way to view others is inclusively, meaning, we are all one, we are all trying to figure out what we're meant to be doing here. Often times what happens is that we look at someone and think, they don't need help, they've got it all, or her clothes look decent enough, she must have money to eat, or he will likely just spend the money on something that I don't agree with. There are many other scenarios, but I think you get the point. We are not here to pick and choose. Everyone needs support, and if you think that your energy, time, materials, wisdom, money and love isn't going to be enough, you're probably correct. But with that said, yours could be just the right amount at the perfect time. Judging situations, people, causes, lifestyles etc., isn't up to us; if somewhere in your gut you are moved to give, your intuition is right. Just give. 

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