Everyday, so much in life directly expresses our fundamental goodness and the goodness of all creation. This is true, just the way we live now, without changing a thing.
Love and Compassion are Happening All Around Us
I smile at a stranger and say, “good morning.” You let someone go ahead of you in traffic. Someone in a hurry stops to hold the door at the coffee shop….. People are polite…. We share, often without giving it a single second thought…
Love and compassion are happening all around us, and heroism, and joy, and generosity, too…. Right here in front of me, the flowers are blooming, spring’s freshness is everywhere, the new day is dawning. I can take a breath, start over, let go…
Along these lines , in Bodhisattva’s Four Methods of Guidance, Dogen Zenji celebrates the generosity each of us is sharing with others just by being alive. He invites us to purposefully notice the abundance of giving all around us in life. He called this purposeful, mindful noticing “giving yourself to yourself and others to others.”
Giving Yourself to Yourself
For Dogen Zenji, giving yourself to yourself is the act of you noticing your own ordinary acts of generosity and kindness. Acts that you already share everyday. Giving yourself to yourself means not just dwelling on the negative, it involves choosing to see yourself fully, just as you are, not skipping over or diminishing your acts of kindness and generosity, but embracing them right along with everything else.
For example, Dogen Zenji wrote, “To launch a boat or build a bridge is an act of giving… [T]o accept a body and to give up the body are both giving. Making a living and producing things can be nothing other than giving.”
To be mindful and aware of our ordinary, mundane, down-to-earth acts of generosity is, in fact, a way to multiply their beneficial consequences. When you and I see the fullness of the economy of generosity that already abounds in and around us, we get a clearer picture of ourselves, and a clearer view of others, too. And, if we kept this clearer view in mind, things might not seem quite so dreadful.
If more people noticed their own simple acts of kindness and generosity and the kind and generous acts of others all around us, we might all feel more content, at ease, and safe. And, that might help us better confront the real difficulties at hand.
“To leave flowers to the wind , to leave birds to the seasons, also are acts of giving.”