These days I am reading “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. It’s considered a classic. I can believe it, even though I’m probably understanding only a minuscule fraction of it.
Still, what we understand is a good place to start from. I read a passage that struck me as gold because it explained why I like giving. When we give, it said, we are in sync with the flow of life, that’s why we feel joy.
That’s a nice way to put it.
Being in sync with the world – oneness – feels intuitively like a source of happiness. No divisions, no separation, no friction. Much of my day goes in confronting situations, from the minor to the major. There are days when everything feels like a major threat, and then there are others, where irritations wash ashore like irrepressible little, prickly waves, unendingly. It is a dualistic scene: me vs [fill in the blank], over and over. A day conquered is a day hard-won.
Except when I give. The tension disappears when I’m giving something. Offering my seat on the subway to someone who looks tired but hasn’t asked. Sharing my lunch with a colleague. Sending a funny meme to a friend who’s been down.
I don’t give things, mostly; and it’s not important, I’ve discovered. It’s more about giving what’s wanted, which, usually, is experience-based stuff. These days, my time and attention seem to be the prized commodities. There’s something more intimate and committed about giving of yourself, through the attention paid or the caring shown. Things are a poor substitute for these feelings.
The festive season is getting started in many parts of the world, like India (Diwali coming up) and then Christmas and New Year. Gifting is a big part of festivals. What if, this year, it was about giving?