Dana, or offering, is our focus this week. If you lived through the 60’s- now you most likely have been read and then read to someone else Shel Silverstein’s masterpiece The Giving Tree. In today’s consumptive society it seems the more we try to simplify our lives, the more we acquire. The more we try to find love, the more we search for it and locate it in things. An enlightened being is someone who releases the attachment on things because they finally see that all they need is within themselves.
Offering is a simple concept, but a difficult principle to apply. The Giving Tree illustrates the power of giving from a place of unadulterated love and compassion. Giving or offering should always be given from a place of ‘no expectation’. It is from this place of ‘no expectation giving’ that we truly find non-attachment, the joy of giving and the freedom of really being. Unfortunately, we are marketed to and sold to that if you do certain things, you will reap an even better benefit. Rarely do you post on instagram a picture that you love just because you love it. You post it to get ‘likes’ from your friends, or to tag a brand in hopes to get something free… In fact the entire idea of social media is to put something out there with the intention of receiving attention or affection back. Buy this and get X percentage off. Refer a friend and get a perk! It has become an epidemic in our way of thinking and being that everything that is offered to us and that we offer to others has some sort of ‘kickback’.
This week, challenge yourself to give without expectation. Maybe plant a plant that is beneficial to its environment but not to you (i.e. plant a tree somewhere that you won’t be able to enjoy its shade or beauty, but someone else will). Volunteer for a group that needs your help, but you may never hear “thank you” from. Give all those extra pennies you have been saving to a worthwhile organization anonymously. Don’t post anything on social media unless it is intended to inspire or help others.
Offer up a spirit of giving that is without attachment to the outcome. See if you can simply give for the act of giving, and let it be enough. Offer to someone else all that you have without any expectation and observe how you feel. If you feel resentful or anxious, perhaps it’s time to analyze if you are going through each day with an agenda. Maybe it’s time to let go of some stuff… metaphorically and physically.
Begin to look within yourself, what more can you give? You might find that the more you let go of, paradoxically the more you have. Maybe you won’t. There is a moment in the book The Giving Tree where the tree appears to be tired of shedding her leaves, branches and shade to give to the boy and it is at that moment that the boy returns to her and gives back. Without searching for an end result, you may find that you are either giving to others that will continuously use you and never reciprocate your energy, or you may find that you have a community of people who equally honor and love that which you give, and will return it.
The Dalai Lama discusses in several of his books the power and reality of interdependence. Look at your giving like the butterfly affect. Even if you never see the tree you plant again, or the people you give money to never speak to you again, that tree or organization might go on to touch other’s lives who will touch other’s lives until the cycle perpetuates around the world and back to you. The connection between giving and receiving is not linear, it’s circular and you never know how it will complete it’s path… Now go offer up!
…Oh, and go read The Giving Tree again!