Last week “Giving Tuesday” got my attention for the first time. I love the idea, but I’ve been totally out of the loop. Where did “Giving Tuesday” come from? I’m interested to know because the world really needs our generosity right now. That’s because there’s a healing power in giving that’s way beyond the strength of greed and consumerism. Therefore, what I want to celebrate this holiday season is the healing power in giving.
Most of you probably already know how Giving Tuesday started. However, for those who don’t here’s what Wikipedia has to say. “Giving Tuesday… refers to the Tuesday after the U.S. Thanksgiving… It is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y [in New York City] and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season.” Hurray for the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation!
Here’s a link to the 92nd Street Y: https://www.92y.org/about.aspx
And to the United Nations Foundation: http://www.unfoundation.org/
It looks like theses organizations do amazing things to make our world a better place through the healing power in giving!
The Healing Power in Giving
Of course, generosity and giving can be shared in very many ways. Notably, giving’s healing power is not restricted to our gifts of money or volunteer time. Actually, almost anything we do in life can be experienced or shared as a gift. Whether or not what we do reaches our heart with the healing power in giving depends on how we see what we do, of course.
That is, the quality and impact of our interactions with others depends on our vision, attitude and imagination. We can always share what we do as our gift to the world. Furthermore, seeing our activities in this way helps us to experience ourselves as not lacking, but as capable, full of goodness and whole beyond measure just as we are now. To see ones self as lacking is a choice and a failure of imagination. Generosity is born in the fullness of the heart. To see and experience this fullness is healing. It’s its own reward.
To launch a boat or build a bridge is an act of giving…
Just a moment ago, I wrote two checks. One goes to the City of Gloucester to pay for my water-bill, the other goes to The Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation. Now, I have a choice. I could think of one as a burden and the other as a gift. Yet, I believe it’s better to view both checks as gifts to all beings. Don’t both checks, each in its own way, benefit all beings? Framing these checks in this way is healing because it helps me see that I’m actually immersed in a net of giving.
Let’s take another example. As I pay the cashier at Market Basket she in turn gives me my groceries. I can see this exchange as a burden or as an exchange of gifts. Frankly, most of us just zone out at the checkout. Sometimes I do the same. But, which way of seeing the exchange, as a burden or as a gift, helps us to lighten up, heals our lives, brings more joy?
Recognizing the constant interchange between people and our ever present capacity for giving, Ram Das said that whatever you do: You can do it like it’s a great weight on you, or you can do it like it’s part of the dance. Centuries before and in this spirit, Dogen Zenji, the founder of Soto Zen Buddhism said: To launch a boat or build a bridge is an act of giving… Making a living and producing things can be nothing other than giving. To leave flowers to the wind, to leave birds to the seasons, are also acts of giving.
In this spirit, when you hold the door for someone, or when you say good morning, let someone ahead of you in traffic, or make breakfast for the kids, you can see these acts truthfully as an acts of giving.
you can do it like it’s part of the dance
So, during this season of giving let’s celebrate every opportunity we have to give, even in the simplest and most everyday ways. As you do, you may discover, sometimes much to your surprise, that you already enjoy a tremendous capacity to open your heart, to let go of attachments and give. This is the healing in paying attention and in giving.
Here’s a link to a wonderful video of Gil Fronsdale talking about the foundational and revolutionary role of giving and generosity in Buddhist practice. The talk is about 30-minutes long—so you might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea before you settle in. https://tricycle.org/dharmatalks/generosity-revolutionary-foundation-buddhist-practice/
The Grace Center in Gloucester supports the homeless with hot meals and shelter the whole year round. They are certainly worthy of your gifts. You can find out more about their mission and work at this link: gracecenterinc.org/
Please join in a Sweeping Heart Zen event. We’re in historic Gloucester on Boston’s North Shore. Here’s a link to our calendar: sweepingheartzen.org/events/
I hope you have a wonderful week!