Be Generous

5 05 2017

bikesJudeo-Christian doctrine holds the position of “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” which referred to both a person’s body (as in kidnapping or slavery) and possessions. The Second Buddhist Precept advises “Take not that which was not given.” I would guess that all of us are pretty much in agreement about our willingness to not kidnap someone or take them into slavery. And probably the vast majority of us reading this will leave another’s property alone, maybe even when it’s not locked up. That is what I call passive alignment with the statement.

Then there is the gray area, which really isn’t gray at all, but we rationalize taking certain things. A candy bar or piece of fruit while we are at the supermarket. A pen or some paper from the office. Petty things. But not really ours to take. And this can escalate a bit, for example, by deducting all the cleaning staff expenses as a business expense when in actuality they clean your house one week and your office the next. Or padding your charitable contributions only enough to save you some tax dollars.

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We can even step back to consider how we deprive others unnecessarily by our actions. When a storm is coming, we grab all the water or toilet paper, leaving an empty shelf, even though we know we won’t use all that we took. We deprive the earth of its resources when we waste water, don’t recycle, or turn undeveloped land into unnecessary impermeable surfaces.

What if we were to look at this concept in an even more proactive way?  What if we decide to Be Generous. Focus on what we can give of our time, energy, love, and resources to others.

When faced with a decision, I know that I feel tight and constricted when I am small and keep ideas or resources to myself instead of sharing them. I feel large and expansive when I’ve encountered a situation that silently asks me to be generous and I am. It’s not about pride or patting myself on the back. It’s a gentle heart opening I feel, a clear sense of doing the right thing, whether obviously or anonymously.


Practice with the small things: when someone asks for directions or information, see it as an opportunity to share and be generous, instead of an imposition on your time. Let others with small loads go ahead of you in the supermarket if you have the time. Help those who are shorter reach things on the top shelves. And if you have financial resources, spread them to causes you can support or people with needs. Bring patience to those not as quick to understand situations or concepts.

In other words, Be Generous.



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