On one level there is no giving or taking.
So I was asked about generosity and what that actually means. As I go to explain, I come up against this restriction in words. So, generosity to the mind means the opposite of being tight and mean and holding back and self-centered. And then what we think of generosity is giving. What I’m attempting to express is neither of these things. It’s not a giving. In fact, there isn’t such a thing as giving. The fact is, every single thing we do is for us, whatever we do, no matter how big the sacrifice. In one way, it’s for us. There isn’t such a thing as giving or even sharing.
It’s getting vague isn’t it?
You see, normally a person is self-centered. Now as I say that, I realize that the self-centered part of you can’t see that. You can’t see your normal behavior clearly. Because the moment you see your behavior, which is not your being-ness but your behavior, it disintegrates. As soon as you see it clearly, you can’t go on doing it, because you know it’s not true. And part of the thing that’s not true is self-centeredness. That’s not what we are.
Then it goes into the vastness of ‘There is no separation; We are all one’ and ‘We are all for each other’. But that isn’t the way we behave. In fact, we behave exactly the opposite. Most people are against everyone else in order to be for themselves. They are their priority, and then maybe the children, and the family and the religion, and the flag of the country and so on. But the basis is: Me, Me, Me.
Now, in what I’m attempting to share about generosity…and then again I go to say it and what I go to say isn’t true…there is no Me and there is only Me. What that means is, with this, let’s call it true generosity, there is only is-ness. There’s no giving and no taking. That’s a process of the mind in order to divide giving so that it can understand what taking is. Taking is an idea so that you can see what giving is. There is no such thing in reality. There is only is-ness, the flowing, the allowing. And if the energy isn’t artificially centered on the self, then it is part of everything. And when it looks at anything, it doesn’t look at it in relation to itself. It just looks.
“When you become as a little child…” A little child has no sense of self. There is no separation. Not only between the child and the mother, but the piece of wood it’s holding, that it pops into its mouth. There’s no separation between anything, because there is no thought to separate it. Everything is.
And so…I was just thinking of an illustration then…when we go for a walk along the road it is a very beautiful road: It’s overhung with trees; there’s grass and greenery. It’s a rain forest and steep slopes and rocks and creeks and little rivers. It’s very beautiful. And when we go for a walk, we often take a plastic bag. And that is to collect the Coca-Cola cans that people have thrown out of the window. Their McDonald packets. We seem to be just the right distance from the McDonald’s that by the time they get to us they’ve eaten it and they throw it out the window. So we collect these things. And to us, we can’t imagine how can anybody do that to this beautiful land? Just throw stuff out. That’s one side, the other side is, we pick it up and we take it to the garbage.
Now if you are really sensitive, if you are in tune, you cannot throw anything out of the window. You can’t do it. It’s just a travesty; it’s just against everything. But you’re not doing good. When we pick up the cans, we are not being generous in our energy. We are responding healthily to a situation that needs to be taken care of and we can see that on any level.
Another memory comes in. When I was in Hong Kong there was an English woman who was pregnant and fainted in the post office. And the Chinese just stepped over her body and carried on. We do that all the time. We see people who need things. We see people in the street and we ignore them and walk past. Giving money to somebody who needs money is not being generous. It is responding. And then we get a bit esoteric there. But that person isn’t another. It’s us. Everything is us. Everything. And that goes for animals, for insects, for trees. For everything is us, it is all one.
If you watch some of the programs on television like ‘Secret Millionaire’ and ‘You Deserve a New House’ …what this is, is a TV investigation team goes out and finds people who are taking care of other people and then buys them gifts or does something that blows their mind. Gives them a check for the amount they’d never imagined could happen. But these people are not giving. When the TV presenter says, “You are such a wonderful person”, nothing happens really. They don’t see themselves as a wonderful person. They don’t even see themselves. They are just a response to what needs to happen. And as a bonus, they feel good. They don’t feel good because they’re doing something for someone else. Their wonderful feeling of fulfillment is inside. It’s just going with a natural flow. It’s not holding back.
Probably, you watching this don’t do this; but often you’ll find most people won’t look at somebody in a wheelchair. Won’t look at somebody with a disability. They won’t look at a street person, a homeless person. They won’t look. They try to keep it out. Or if they give money, they just throw the money. They don’t look at the person and make contact, which is worth more than the money. So when a person is…the just sort of generosity we are talking about…they’re not being generous, they’re just being. They’re responding. They’re not holding anything back or centering everything on themselves: I am giving. I am doing. In fact it’s not a doing, it’s a being. And you can’t do being. It just is.
So how to be in this state? It is what I keep saying over and over: If you are more present and available to this moment, exactly as it is, you will find you will respond. If you are in the line at the cash register at the supermarket and somebody in front says, “Oh, I won’t take that now” because they don’t have enough money, you’ll pay for it. You won’t be doing anything. You won’t be giving anything. You’ll just be responding.
And we could say from the heart but it’s from the being-ness. It’s taking care. You will respond to life. We’ll say the bonus is, you feel wonderful. You feel fulfilled. But I want to tell you again, you’re not giving anything. In fact, in a way, you’re taking. People who find their vocation, people who connect and do what they’re doing because they enjoy it, they feel as though they’re cheating because they’re being paid. It is as though: I’m being paid for doing what I enjoy doing, what I love doing. And it’s the same with people who are in the helping and the giving trade. They’re not doing it for the money, and if they are then it’s that self-centered thing again and they don’t feel fulfilled. They’re not at their maximum potential for themselves or the people to whom they’re sharing.
When you connect with this place in yourself, you will be -this isn’t accurate- but you’ll be looking for what you can contribute. You’ll be looking all the time. Somebody says they want something done, something goes ‘click’, “Oh, can I do that, or do I know somebody that does?” Or, “They can’t afford it, shall I pay for that?” Automatically…And it’s not a doing. It’s not a generosity. It is a response to life and this comes back. As you sow, so will you reap. It goes both ways. What you put out comes back. Unless you are putting it out just to get back. That doesn’t work. This is a response, an allowing, a being-ness. And sometimes, even if it’s somebody you don’t like, you’ll still find yourself helping them. There is something bigger than our individual notion of ourselves. There is something bigger, and we’re a part of it. We’re all of it.
So back to this thing we keep sharing: In each moment, be here now. And you will find your life will change in many, many ways. You’ll start responding instead of seeing everything as: Should I do that? Is that appropriate for me? Will I get reward for that? Will I keep out of trouble for that? All that disappears.
People that jump onto train lines when there’s a train coming, to pull somebody out, they don’t think about it. People that jump in the water to save somebody when they can’t swim themselves very well, they don’t think about it. There is a response. And the reward, what comes back from that, is an unexplainable feeling: The peace that passeth all understanding. The disappearance of fear, replaced by fulfillment. So, when in doubt, do it.
It seems it still isn’t clear about doing and being, giving and responding. Seems that isn’t clear. So the question comes up, people say: Well, I haven’t found my thing yet. I haven’t found my way. And then if the word ‘giving’ is used it is still not seeing clearly that it’s not a giving. It is a responding. And when we’re talking like this, what the mind will do, it will go ahead and say: Well how can I change my life and how can I…how can…? Well you can’t, you see. You can’t do anything in the future. There isn’t a future; there is only now. And right now, you’re watching and listening to this. This is what’s happening.
If you heard the bath overflowing now, because you’d left the bath on. You wouldn’t be doing anything to get up. Getting up would happen. You would go there. You would take care. It would just happen. Now, when you’re in each moment and you are present with what we’ll call ‘yourself’, with what we’ll call ‘the other’, If something is appropriate to take place, response will happen.
And when you hear the bath water overflowing, again it’s not a thinking. What they use in the East is if somebody places a hot stone on your hand, you don’t think about dropping it. Dropping happens. If you’re present with people, if you look in their eyes, no matter if they are chattering on about their story and they’re complaining and… If you’re there with them, if there is something appropriate to share or to give or… It will happen. It will happen.
Another illustration from my life, when Clare and I were in east Africa, in Kenya. Over and over things came up, to which we couldn’t let go. When we saw people starving, we couldn’t just let them starve; we couldn’t do that. There was a response to that. Even although sometimes, several times, it meant me risking my life to take food out or to take services out. Literally risking… That wasn’t a decision. It would have been…as I was present with the situation…let’s put it this way, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t go. But going wasn’t a doing; going was a response. That’s what needed to happen. Nobody else was doing it, so I did it.
If you’re with, first of all, what we’ll call yourself, then what we’ll call the other person, in each moment, if something is appropriate, you will find a response happening. Often the mind will go: What?! You can’t afford that! But it’s happened. Or: You don’t have time to do that.
We know somebody here, we can’t believe what she puts in in a day! Three-hundred emails and very tentatively saying, “Do you think we could possibly….?”
“Yes!” She’s always a yes.
And her life is a blessing for herself and for all of us around. And everything she does in Nepal, she looks after orphanages and schools; and raises money and makes sure the money goes to the right place, right where it is and not get filtered off. And, in each moment, she’s always available. It’s not just the big things, it’s in each moment. For everybody and every circumstance. Incidentally, she feels wonderful. Incidentally, it’s not ‘because of’. Even if she felt terrible, she’d go on doing it. It’s not what she gets back.
This is a bit oblique, but there’s a Sufi story about a famous gem merchant who comes to the feet of his Guru and presents him with the biggest emerald anybody’s ever seen. And the Guru just waves to the person sitting to take it on one side. After the merchant had gone, they said, “But you didn’t even say thank you!” And he said, “The giver should say thank you.”
Just imagine if there was nobody to buy your products that you are selling. You need them. Just imagine if nobody got ill, what would the doctors do? Imagine if somebody brought out a substance where teeth never needed repairing, what would the dentist do? The giver should be thankful.
And haven’t you noticed as you disconnect…we’ve just had Christmas…when you give a present, doesn’t it feel wonderful to be giving? Doesn’t it feel wonderful to see the person go, “Aahhh!”
The giver should be thankful. And they’re not giving. They’re just responding to what is. So coming right back…if you live in this moment…out of your fucking mind…because that’s where you live…there’s your misery. There’s all your troubles…are only in your mind. And the mind is the past.
Here now, there are no problems. Here now, everything is wonderful!