I’m writing a series on the Six Perfections. The Six Perfections (or Paramitas) are often considered the most fundamental teaching of the path of the Bodhisattva. They are said to be vehicles to take us from shore of sorrow to the shore of peace and joy. We are on the shore of suffering, anger and depression and we want to cross over to the shore of well-being. Practicing the Six Perfections is said to help us unleash the joy within.
When I say generosity, the first thing that comes to mind is likely of giving things to others.
We can give money to the homeless or buy lunch for a friend. These things are definitely generous and good. Sharing is a part of human nature and we should give, if we can afford to.
But, in this case, generosity represents more than simply giving material things.
Obviously it does represent helping the needy. But, it also represents giving our time. When I give my friend’s child a ride home from school without asking anything in return, that is generosity. When I help a friend move, that is generosity.
Generosity represents all forms of giving. We can also give someone less tangible things, like our love, respect, patience or acceptance. We can also offer stability, being reliable, being available when people need us. If we make plans with someone and keep those plans, we are giving them stability. We can also give someone space when they want to be alone, or quiet when they are being bothered by too much noise.
These are things that we don’t usually think of as generosity, but they are all aspects of the cultivation of generosity.
The practice of generosity is beneficial to us. It increases our confidence and self-esteem. It also helps lessen our attachments. If we give material things, it helps us lessen our attachment to material things. It helps shrink our ego, which is something that causes us suffering sometimes.
Cultivating generosity is helpful in developing love, joy, and compassion.
Some real world examples could help.
When a friend needs help moving and I go out of my way to find out when and where I need to be to help them (with no expectation of reward or payment) that is the perfection of generosity.
If I volunteer my time to a charity project, that’s the perfection of generosity.
And if I call a friend who has just lost a loved one to offer my support, that’s the perfection of generosity too.
If we just look at the world around us, we can see that there are opportunities to be generous everywhere.
So let’s give it a try.
Overcome greed with generosity.
Author: Daniel Scharpenburg
Editor: Travis May