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02.10.2009 Feature Article

Let Your Giving Be Gentle As Silence!!!

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'All you have shall someday be given, therefore give now that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors' - Kahlil Gibran

Somebody has come up with this beautiful idea of celebrating the 'JOY of Giving Week' from 27th September to 3rd October. The theme of this week is to give anything you have (in abundance) to someone who does not. Till now we have had Valentine's Day, Friendship Day, Mother's Day, etc. But now comes a whole week of giving. The fanciful idea has caught the attention of the entire nation, especially the celebrities and the corporate world, by its novelty. So there seems to be a mad rush and fervent appeals to donate anything and everything. Laudable efforts, but why confine them to a measly period of seven days ?Why not make it a way of life?

Generally, most of our daily actions follow the principle of 'more is better', whereas giving means that 'less is beautiful'. This is a special kind of joy for each one of us to reach out to someone less privileged by, not just donating money (which is the easiest act of charity), but by bequeathing the simple pleasures of life. Gift your time to your family, your attention and love to someone who is craving desperately for it, your services and talents (as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, builder, artist ) free of cost to someone in need of them. Or simply lend your ears to distraught souls, or put the balm of soothing words on hurting wounds. And do not forget to give thanks to the Almighty in gratitude for having been given eyes to see, ears to hear, limbs to move and a mind to think--- for life would be miserable without anyone of these 'taken for granted faculties'. So stop cribbing about what you have not. Rather celebrate what you have, by sharing it with others.

The ultimate bliss would be to donate your body parts to be used after your death to give life to others --- by way of organ/eye transplant or simply as study material by medical students. This would be the best way to be remembered even when we are no more; in fact we will continue to live in the bodies of others.

Just do something nice for somebody else.
Buddhism talks of three levels of generosity.
The first one is 'Beggarly Giving' – we give the worst of what we have- the leftovers- and even then we have doubts – should I give it? Next year I might use it.

How many of us are readily willing to part with the trunk loads of clothes (and other redundant items) we have not worn /used for years and will never use in future? We never seem to find a suitable (?) benefactor for them. Such is our inflated ego.

The second one is 'Friendly Giving' – we give what we could use for ourselves, and we give it with more spontaneity and with more joy in the mind.

The third one is 'Queenly Giving' – we delight in offering the best of what we have, giving what we value most. This is perfect generosity.

It all fits together. Generosity gives rise to joy, joy makes us calm, a calm mind is filled with ease, and settles readily into meditation. From meditation comes wisdom and deep understanding.

In Buddhism the joy of giving is called 'Mudita'—joy at the good fortune of others.

An act of generosity is a blessing for the giver, more than for the recipient. I saw this in Chiang Mai in Thailand. It was not uncommon to see the Buddhist monks, with the begging bowl in hand, doing a round of the houses in the early hours of morning. The householder would bow down at the feet of the monk, while making an offering (of fruits, food grains or anything else). The bhikshuwould remain standing and bless the giver. I always found this to be such a humbling experience, where the giver was at the feet of the receiver. Thai Buddhists believe that by giving, they improve their own karma and so need to thank the receiver for accepting their offerings. This signifies a complete surrender of the self and the ego.

Are you that poor that you have nothing to give?
Celebrate the festival of giving throughout the year. Donate a smile and see a stranger's face light up. Lend a helping hand to liven up some life. Gift words of kindness, appreciation, forgiveness to kindle hope. Give, and experience the thrill of receiving manifold what you give away. It has a boomerang effect. So give peace, joy, love, tolerance and comfort to others.

Give with humility so that it may be received with dignity, for 'blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.'

In the true spirit of celebration of the Mahatma's birthday, let us sing to ourselves his favourite bhajan ' vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je peer paraayi jaane re; par dukhe upkaar kare, koi mann abhimaan na aane re' (a true human being is one who understands the pain of others and does a good deed without any arrogance).

May your fortunes multiply many times in proportion to what you give.

Shobha Shukla
(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: [email protected], website: www.citizen-news.org)

Development / Ghana / Africa / modernghana.com

Shobha Shukla
Shobha Shukla, © 2009

The author has 169 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: ShobhaShukla

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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