Wanting to Give…..

Last year I mentioned I was going back to University to study Anthropology. I am now in my 4th week of study and I know for sure it has been the best decision of my life. Each topic I learn about or each chapter or journal article I read is like “wow”; I am fascinated. This topic was made for me. The only thing that detracts slightly from that enjoyment is having assignments to complete on time. But even that I shouldn’t really complain about because the paper I am doing is a 1st year one and and the assignments should be simple enough to do with a little bit of effort on my part. I also like the fact that I have somewhere to go during the week after nearly two years of being home. And until I started attending regular classes, I hadn’t realised how much I missed it all.

Last week we had a lecture on Gifting and the anthropological significance of gift giving. The one take out for me was once someone gives you a gift you can never pay it back how ever much you try over the course of a lifetime. And that is because the giving was not about the material object that was given, but the thought or intention behind it. Even though a gift is on the surface is a “no strings attached” act of giving, by accepting the gift, the receiver is now under some sort of obligation to the giver. I had never really thought about this before, so it left me pondering what it means in my own life.

I am a giver. It gives me more pleasure to give than to receive. When someone gives me a gift, I find it difficult to accept and have to make an effort to do it gracefully. I know giving and receiving are equally important, so it is something I continue to work on.

Over the course of my life I have met various kinds of people. They all give to various extents. I have also known people who were very much takers and disinclined to give. I found it hard to relate to these people because until recently I didn’t know I was even a giver. I just thought everyone functioned like I did.

What I value most is people who give of themselves, not material possessions. I know some people who are ready to give everything except part of themselves even if it is only a bit of information about who they are. These people I find often have reasons going back a long way as to why they stopped giving. Mostly it is to do with giving and getting hurt as a result. Others I know can touch you on the hand or give you a hug and you feel their who selves in that touch or hug. They don’t hold anything back. I am sure this second category of people have also been hurt as a result of giving to others, but have somehow managed to hold onto their ability to give.

This evening I attended a talk at a Spiritual Discussion Group I am a member of. The speaker mentioned that he considered most Europeans to be closed off from people while people of Eastern descent were a lot more open. I know this is a generalisation, but you could take it a step further and say, the ones that can give of themselves are those that have opened their hearts and the ones that struggle to give are the ones that have closed off their hearts from the rest of the world. And giving of yourself means you are connecting with another person. So at the end of this day, this is not about giving, but about connecting. You give to connect and to do this, you have to give from the heart.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Thulani says:

    Ohh my you couldn’t have said it better my dear friend. This is exactly how I feel too about giving. I know what exactly you are talking about and how you feel because I feel the same joy and contentment in giving than actually receiving . Givers are the blessed and not every body’s blessed to be so.

    1. Thank you. Like I said I have come to realise I need to learn to receive as well, so working on that. That enables someone else to feel the pleasure of giving.

  2. Madhawa says:

    Your anthropology rocks. I earlier thought of it in conjunction with archeology.
    Dubaior most people giving is food for their hungry egos: to feel important, or richer than the receiver. Or to open a bank account with the receiver, simply to be able to withdraw or overdraw later. This is national to worldly giving.

    The lokotthara -call it spiritual- giving is selfless giving. Bodhisattva had to learn this over many incarnations. The aim is to destroy the ego. Conversely the spiritual receiving has no obligations. Both these imposters of the same coin teach us detatchment.

    1. I think I have many life times to go on this one. My practices were severely tested a few days ago. Ego is still very much alive.

      1. Madhawa says:

        Don’t lose hope over moments of weakness. Somebody wise once told me that the success lies between the gap of stimuli and response. The lessons of life – if we are conscious of them – teaches us how to widen this gap so that a wiser response can be chosen, instead of reacting (driven from primitive parts of our brain.)

  3. Actually, I have rethought this particular instance and my next update is going to be about it. I couldn’t figure out how unconditional love which is supposedly an act of selfless giving could suddenly dissipate in response to words or actions of the other person. As I had previously understood it, you should be able to continue giving in the face of negative actions by the other person because what you give was not dependent on what you got back. I couldn’t however balance that with people who continue giving in abusive relationships. I could clearly see that was wrong, so recognised my theory as being flawed. Now I think I have the answer:)

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