According to the law of the universe, the more we give, the more we get. But often, we struggle to be generous. Lack of generosity possibly stems from the belief that there is not abundant in the world. But the way this world is created, there is enough, and perhaps much more, for everyone.
Generosity is an act of giving without expecting anything in return, and as we practice it, we feel more contented with what we already have. Being generous is about giving the best of yourself, and in the process, getting the best out of life. It also means we have a sense of gratitude for what we have. And when we are grateful and generous, our life will change for the better, in ways that may surprise us.
A Beautiful Story About Buddha And Generosity
One day, Lord Buddha said that on a particular day, he would accept alms with his own hands. He said that anyone who wants to hand out alms to the poor can come with his offerings. So, on the appointed day, Lord Buddha sat under a Banyan tree to accept the offerings. King Bimbisara was the first and offered incredible gifts: precious jewels, gold coins, large quantities of food, deeds of land and houses. Lord Buddha accepted all the gifts with a single wave of his hand. Prince Ajatshatru followed and presented more gifts that were equally valuable. Lord Buddha again received them by swatting them away with a wave of his hand. After this, many kings and nobles gave Lord Buddha gifts. To these people, the Buddha nodded his hand to show that he accepted their generosity.
Shortly, a poor old woman arrived. She respectfully said to the Buddha, “Oh Buddha, I am poor and have nothing. As I was eating this pomegranate, I heard the news that you were accepting gifts. As an expression of my gratitude and an act of devotion, I would like to offer you my half-eaten pomegranate. O Lord, I hope you will accept this humble gift.” Buddha smiled at the old woman and accepted the half-eaten pomegranate with both his hands.
This surprised everyone. King Bimbisara respectfully said, “My Lord, when we offered our gifts, you accepted them with a wave of one hand. So why accept this old woman’s gift with both hands? It’s nowhere close to the gifts we offered.” To this, Lord Buddha replied, “Oh kings, you all gave pretty expensive gifts actually, but none of them were equivalent to less than a tenth of what you possess. You were more interested in fame than you were in helping others. This woman gave her all, and so I needed both hands to receive it, because it’s greater than all your wealth put together.”
My Experience Of Turning More Generous
I recall being very conservative in giving anything that I possessed. I would visit restaurants or order food at home, and just keep the bare minimum amount of tip. Or I would take a cab and ensure that I take the all the change back :-).
But mediation and mindfulness changed me. Now when I take a cab, I leave the change behind. When I order food, I tip generously. Recently, I met a few office colleagues at a farewell party, and as we were seated, a blind man entered the cafe. He asked the cashier for some change, but the cashier didn’t give any. I felt a deep sense of empathy, so I stood up, walked to the blind man, and gave him some cash. And just this simple act filled me with a deep sense of happiness and fulfilment.
It’s easy To Bring In The Change And Become Generous
It may be difficult for everyone to practice meditation, but being mindful is easy and can help you become more generous.
Here is a simple three-step process:
Contemplation: Identify 3 areas where you lack generosity and would like to improve. This activity shouldn’t take a lot of time, just a few hours of contemplation. It could be anything – maybe when you go shopping for groceries, you bargain a lot. Or it could be not doing enough charity for the poor and the aged.
Change Required: Next is to think about the change that you wish to bring within. May be no bargaining next time, or donating a few bucks each month or anything in kind, like books or clothes.
Being Mindful: Once you have identified the change, next time when you will come across a similar situation, you will automatically be more mindful, a self dialogue will trigger in, reminding you to overcome your limiting belief and facilitate the change.
Last Few Cents
The measure of true generosity is not the size of your wallet but the intentions in your heart. A small act of kindness done with genuine love and concern is much greater than something done to simply make you look good in the eyes of others.
So next time, be generous when you are doing charity, leaving a tip or gifting someone.