I was walking down a path and I saw an older woman walking towards me. She looked haggard, as if she had faced some hard times. Her clothes were tattered and unclean. It crossed my mind that she might be homeless. I knew there was a homeless encampment nearby, and she was headed that way. As we got closer, we made direct eye contact. I tipped my hat and nodded towards her. Her face lit up and she flashed a most joyous smile. Even though she hardly had any teeth and the teeth she did have were blackened, her smile was infectious. I was instantaneously filled with Joy, and a smile expanded upon my face in return. As we passed and went our separate ways, I thought to myself, “Wow! Now that is Generosity─ giving away big, joyful smiles even when one has no teeth!”
Generosity is Giving. Sometimes giving a simple smile, like this lady did, is all we have.
Give always. Give love. Give kindness. Give praise. Give thanks. Give when you have nothing. Give time. Give blessings. Give service. Give acceptance. Give respect. Give hope. Give knowledge. Give clemency. Give your gift. Give what you create. Give yourself. Give your heart. Give that which beams from within.
Generosity is offering with no expectation of anything in return. Generosity honors the Divinity in all by bestowing gifts upon them. Generosity lets us put down our defenses and allows for Love to enter our hearts. Generosity is Love. Generosity is the giving, offering, and flowing of Love. Generosity removes obstacles to letting Love flow in and out. It lowers defenses. It opens gates.
Generosity is a state of being. It is spirit constantly flowing with Love, ready to give to others in need, without pity. We give because we are called to give by our Divine nature and we do so with Humility as we are honoring the opportunity to give.
We have Gratitude for the opportunity to give. We are honored to give. We are happy to open our hearts and be in a natural state of Love. This is a gift that we receive in giving. It is a gift that we do not seek in itself but which just occurs when we are in alignment with who we are and with our giving, loving, Divine nature. With Generosity, we are sharing our Divinity with others.
“No one ever became poor by giving.” -Anne Frank
Giving Begets Giving
In reflecting about the lady with the joyous, toothless grin, I realize that I may have gotten the ball rolling in our interaction by simply acknowledging her presence. Acknowledgement is an ever-so-easy and inexpensive gift that can be given to anybody at any time. At this point in my own life, I acknowledge by rote (though I am not unconscious in its delivery). First, I make eye contact. Then I (mentally/emotionally) send a beam of blessing or “Namaste” to the other party, acknowledging their Divinity. When I first began this practice, I felt rejected if the other person ignored me. Over time, I have learned not to expect a response. I give without attachment to a response.
Anytime we put ourselves out there and sincerely give from our hearts, we risk rejection. If we have been wounded by rejection or grew up experiencing conditional Love, it can feel safer to give in a manner that does not truly open our hearts to another, or simply not give at all.
A simple nod and tip of the hat to my friend, “The Joyous Grinning Woman” acknowledged her presence and her Humanity. My actions also told her that she was safe to give in return─ and boy did she! Her smile brightened my entire day even more because it was not expected.
In true giving, we are training ourselves to Love without expectation and without fear of rejection. We create a safe environment to show Love. In turn, more Love flows.
A lack of Generosity can serve as an indicator of areas for Healing and growth. An inability to be giving may be a symptom of a heart that fears rejection. It can simply not feel safe to be emotionally vulnerable by giving. The cure for a such an ailment is to give without expectation in small matters and then build upon those. In this way, we can give material or in Service. Not giving can also signify a lack of Empathy or it can be a sign of “scarcity thinking,” the idea that we lack too much in order to give, or need to hoard what we have, an unhealthy-attachment issue. Again, the cure for these ailments is more giving, more Service.
When Giving is Not True Giving
Giving is not true giving when it feels obligatory, or when we are just going through the motions and satisfying social norm or self-serving interest. Think of a time when you felt compelled to chip in on a workplace gift because all of your coworkers were doing so. We all do this, and it may be no big deal in some instances, but giving in this way is not true giving from the heart. An outside dynamic (such as fear of judgment by coworkers) is the motivation behind your handing them that twenty, rather than a genuine, voluntary desire to contribute.
Giving is not true giving when it is strictly for a tax-deduction or for personal recognition and promotion, either. Giving with a distinct desire for anonymity can better reflect the true spirit of the element of Generosity in some cases. The Judeo-Christian Bible says, “When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you.”
True Generosity requires no recognition, as it seeks nothing in return. It is done with Humility, honoring all that is Divine. Go ahead, take the tax deduction when you give. Then, check your motivation. As long as the write-off is not your motivating factor and giving comes from your heart, then you will be aligned with your Truth.
Giving With Discernment
Generosity is heart-based. When we spontaneously give in the moment to help someone in need or share Love and Generosity in some other subtler way, it is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, this innate desire to give can be manipulated by those to whom we are giving or, as mentioned above, by ourselves in order to serve a selfish agenda or to feed unhealthy dynamics. Unconscious humans in this world would gladly separate you from your material wealth for personal gain. On the other hand, sometimes givers themselves are not conscious of their own agenda for giving. This occurs in personal relationships when, for example, one person is chasing the other for Love and Acceptance.
Reason, Wisdom and Intuition will help us discern when other dynamics may be at work besides pure heart-felt Generosity. It’s okay to do a little due diligence within oneself before exercising your Generosity. Our Truth may be to sacrifice something we have for some other person’s Truth and be generous to them in a big way. For example, we may postpone our goals to accommodate the goals of our partner/spouse. However, we never want to sacrifice our Truth to the point that is it denied.
In other words, we want to give of our True self but we don’t want to give away pieces of who we are in order to please others or in order to satisfy some self-limiting belief that our Truth does not matter.
Altruism, Sharing, and the “Cost” of Generosity
Altruism is the Generosity of giving for the greater good. Altruism is selflessness. There are some souls whose True mission here on Earth is that of selfless action directed at grand social change and justice (or “Big Picture Betterment,” as I like to call it). These individuals dedicate their lives for a cause, because the Truth of who they really are will not have it any other way.
For most others, their Truth and how they express Generosity is localized and very much a personal experience. Most still serve others in a heart-centered way, but they do so more intimately. The Altruists teach us to give for a greater good and a greater Truth, like Martin Luther King did for civil rights in early 1960s America. His quest was not merely to support his own Truth, but a greater Truth with which his own was inextricably linked— that humans, regardless of race or any other socially contrived category, deserve the same political, economic and social opportunities and treatment. We are duty-bound to be on-call to such change agents and divert from our paths from time to time to serve a greater purpose.
Altruism is a high form of Generosity. It involves sacrifice and dedication of spirit on the part of the Altruist and giving on the part of all of us in support of them. It requires all of us to have big-picture vision and long-term perspective.
Sharing is Generosity 101. Idealistically, I like to think of that young children seem instinctively able to share. As parents and teachers, we seek to instill sharing as a value within them. we pull it off, kids can reach a certain equilibrium of fairness in sharing. The kid who decides to share does not gloat or abuse their position as “the one who gave.” On the other hand, the kid shared with does not overstep their position as well. These idealized kids then don’t keep track of the sharing that has occurred. They work it out in the moment and tomorrow is another day. As we get older, we may tend to forget the organic nature of what sharing can be. As adults, we tend to keep track.
How Much Does Generosity Cost?
Generosity is a relative term. Ordinary folks who give the shirts off their backs to help a friend are more than likely to be truly generous. Many wealthy patrons to charities may be less so in terms of what they have overall (and due to potential ulterior motives for giving, such as positive press and tax deductions). True Generosity really strikes a chord. We know it when we see it, like when somebody who has very little gives in large proportion to that, or when someone has little or no money or “stuff” to give but nevertheless offers us time, information or some other form of assistance.
Reflecting on my earlier example of the toothless lady, that smile I received that came from her did feel genuine. She had no teeth to smile with and yet she smiled anyways, in a big way and without regard to what she lacked. On a literal level, many people without teeth may be averse to smiling as a matter of self-consciousness. The lady on the street, however, gave no regard to appearances and she gave no regard to her overall lot in life.
She just gave without factoring in any cost to her.
True Generosity has no expectation of return investment. Generosity costs nothing because it expects nothing. Generosity is free to give. No cost analysis is required.
“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” -Simone de Beauvoir
The best gifts are your time and your presence as well as love, nurturance, validation, acceptance and respect for another. A smile is a great example of giving─ and it’s free! With Generosity, we give our Divine Energy to others willfully since we know that our own supply is infinite.
We receive Generosity with Gratitude towards the giver and Gratitude and Humility towards the Divine. No further action is required.
Some confuse self-care and giving to one’s self with selfishness. This is not the case when done with the intention of honoring our own Divinity and the Wise-Gift vessel (our Body) granted to us.
Generosity to one’s self in the form of self-care and self-love allows for the unfolding of our Divinity and allows us to be Generous towards others.
Generosity is Faith and Communion
When we give without expectation of anything in return, this is an act of Faith. As we give in Faith, we know we are safe to do so. Also, if we give materially, we know that we will be okay without that which we have just let go of. With Faith, we Surrender to the moment and listen to our heart that tells us to give. We just do it. We are trusting in the Divine. This is Faith.
When we give, we are also in instant Communion with those we give to and with Divinity. The giver and receiver both open their hearts for this transaction to occur and this is facilitated by Divinity at the core. Generosity is Communion. It feels good to give because when we do, we feel our True nature and Divinity.
When my toothless friend and I exchanged smiles on the street, we were in Communion for that moment. For me, this made a difference that I could feel the rest of the day. When we are truly Generous, we are Communing with God as well as with the other. The more often we are this way, the more we are in Communion on all levels.
Giving Back to the Divine
How can we give to the Divine? When we give to others, we also give to the Divine for Divinity resides within them. When we give to others, we show Devotion to God and we show our Gratitude to the Divine for being able to give.
We are directly generous to the Divine with our constant Gratitude for our being and when we give with the elements of Faith, Humility and Devotion.
We give to the Divine through others with the Generosity of a constantly open heart, radiating Love and Bliss.
We give back by recognizing and validating our own Divinity and that of all creation. We give back by awakening.
Love, Empathy and Non-attachment all support Generosity by opening our hearts to connect with others and giving without being attached to any outcome or to what we may possess so that we may give it away.
Courage and Faith help guide us when we feel that we lack too much to give to others.
Our Intuition guides us in giving.
Mindfulness and Self-Awareness help us to monitor our openness to acts of true Generosity.
We receive Generosity with Gratitude towards the giver and with Gratitude and Humility towards the Divine.
Our underlying Communion with everybody and everything supports giving to all as we are all connected.
Nurturance is a form of generosity of self to care for others and self. Self-nurturance allows for us to be more giving to others.
Healing works to repair wounds which might make it difficult to open ourselves up to give.
Self-Respect allows us to give without ever doing so in a manner that is harmful to ourselves.
- Take inventory of your material acts of Generosity and how they may fall on the spectrum of giving and resources on hand as described above. Err on the side of Generosity in giving more where possible (with appropriate boundaries).
- Take an inventory of your Generosity of time and attention and identify areas where you can give more. Err on the side of Generosity in giving more time and attention where needed without disregard for self.
- Give to others on your birthday! Many expect to be given material gifts on this day. Make a habit of giving gifts instead as a matter of expressing Gratitude to others and to the Divine for your birth.
- Mindfully evaluate any urge to give. Our Intuition will speak to us when an opportunity for giving arises. Another part of our mind may shoo these thoughts away or excuse us from taking action. Still other parts may want to give because of reasons such as guilt or peer pressure. Where is your urge to give coming from? If Intuition says it is coming from the heart, then act upon it.
- Commit random acts of kindness, with no desire of reward or recognition. Reflect on your experience, both external and internal, in a journal or notebook. How did you feel afterwards? What was the reaction from the other, if you saw it?
- Give kudos, compliments. They are cost-effective gifts. Be sincere with kudos. When inspired, practice saying, “Do you mind if I give you a compliment?”, and then give it!
- Give Forgiveness to those who you sense need it, or about whom you need to Forgive yourself.
- Practice openly greeting strangers in passing. Send silent blessings for their highest good.
Notice any expectation of a particular response on your part or feelings of rejection if the receiver does not respond at all. Work towards practicing Non-attachment to the outcome of your greetings.
- Do hands-on charity work for those in need, i.e. serving a meal, making repairs, working at a shelter or hotline, etc.
- Nurture talent in groups and individuals that may not have access to mentoring.
- Provide pro-bono and sliding scale services to those in need.
- Practice Generosity to self by having an ongoing self-care regimen. Engage Self-Awareness to detect any blocks to Generosity to Self.
- Make love in the spirit of giving time, attention, self and sharing Divine Energy. Be Generous in love and sexual intimacy.
- Do not die with too much wealth stored away.
- Smile at others. Give smiles. Give big smiles.
Thank you God for what I have been given. Thank you for this life.
Let my Heart Be Open. Let My Heart Be Giving.
Let My Heart Be Open to the Needs of Others.
My Heart is Giving, Loving, and Divine. I Am Giving.
I am love; I am happiness; I deserve love; I deserve happiness.
My Ability to Love Abounds; My Ability to Be Loved Abounds.