The Ground of Generosity

by Shastri Matthew Lyon

In these writings, I am interested in opening an inquiry about the many facets of generosity. I have found it to be a complex subject offering a wealth of themes to explore.

Why does this virtue bring peace and fulfillment? What is the right balance between caring for oneself properly and giving to others? When is a generous act free from the expectation of something in return? In money matters, when is it good to give or to hold back? How much is right?

Amid these philosophical and practical questions, I find it helpful to look at the very basis of generosity itself.  How does our basic view of life affect our approach to this virtue?

If we look simply at the world around us, we see abundance manifesting everywhere. They cycles of nature on earth continually support life, growth, and potentiality. The sun doesn’t suddenly decide not to shine, nor does the Earth stop turning on a whim. Although threatened by human activity, there is a vast network of conditions which allow plants and beings to live. The very fact of our human birth arises from an abundant act of love and the endless force of creativity.

In meditation, we learn to experience this fundamental richness as an inner reality. As we let go of our thoughts and touch in to our heart we can feel the inherent worthiness of our nature – and further, that this feeling has an expansive quality.

If we see the world mainly as a place of pain and stark limitations, it is hard to feel generous. We feel the need to secure and to protect ourselves constantly.

However, when we experience the inherent abundance and potential of our nature, we can begin to see the world as a golden field of richness. Even the pain we encounter has meaning.

Our ability to be generous, and indeed our potential to find fulfillment, grows from the ground of this basic approach to life. The practical answers about how much to give, why, and when can be illuminated by the wisdom of our inner wealth.

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