Giving is not a hard thing to do if it is for someone we love or a family member that we hold dear, but what about giving to someone who you don’t know? What about sharing a possession with someone who hasn’t done anything for you in the past? We are all guilty of it one time of another. Tucking away a generic present just in case someone decides to give you one or having a gift card on hand to avoid those awkward moments. Sometimes we even pass up the opportunity to give what seems to be inconsequently things like giving up a great parking spot, letting someone cut in front of you in line, or my personal favorite giving up the remote without the usually preface, “You can watch one episode of Axe Man but after that I can watch whatever I want.” Giving is partly defined as a sacrifice of some kind, but it doesn’t have to be; you can enrich your life through various types of generosity.
The three acts of giving this holiday season are (from Derrick Sweet’s book You Don’t Have to Die to Go to Heaven):
1. Basic Giving is the type when you offer to give money, time or a favor. An example would be if I saw a friend in a restaurant and said, “Hey I’d like to buy you breakfast.” This type of giving is very nice, but it does feed ones ego. For my giving I am thanked, complimented and honored; which makes me look good. 😉 My friend may even tell people what a good person I am, and my friend may even return the favor some time in the future. Lama Yeshe Losal, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk and teacher, says, “Expecting something for your help is like giving a spoonful of honey but mixing it with poison.”
2. Anonymous Giving is the type that comes from a higher consciousness and is less concerned with feeding the ego. In the restaurant example, I may call a server over and ask to have your bill included with mine without telling you. I might ask the server to tell you that your breakfast is FREE today. This means my ego isn’t directly fed by your warmth and thanks. But still, there is an ego boost because the server knows that “I’m a good person.” Each time I see my friend afterward I will relish the memory of having done something nice hence another ego feed.
3. Heavenly Giving comes from the purest form of consciousness and doesn’t have ego involved. This type of giving is focused on the giving alone, and the only reward is the act of being generous. This type of giving connects you directly to your higher self, leading to a wonderful overwhelming sense of “well being.” You may be saying, “How can I practice this?” This is the toughest, but if you are living in the present moment, aware of your surroundings constantly, you will notice ways to express this type of giving daily. Let’s say if you are walking down the street early in the morning with your dog and you notice a newspaper lying on the end of your neighbor’s driveway. No one else is around, so you take it up and put it on the front door stoop. Then, you never tell anyone you did this. Or you are walking down the street, and you notice a parking meter expired, deposit some coins in, and walk away. This type of giving is between you and a richer connection to life, not between you and the owner of the car or the neighbor in the previous example.
You will find this type of giving addictive and want to do it more and more. The key is to be aware constantly of your surroundings. The wonderful reward of this type of giving is the biological benefit because every time you practice this type of giving the body releases serotonin, which, with structural similarities to LSD, is the body’s natural feel-good drug. And it reduces blood pressure, aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol and nourishes the soul! Lets face it, GETTING SOME SOUL NOURISHMENT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON MAY BE THE NUMBER ONE THING ON YOUR OWN GIFT RECEIVING LIST!!!”