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Since time immemorial, the Vedas have been reminding human beings that we are not merely a consumer but a benefactor, that our thoughts and actions influence and shift not only our consciousness, but the entire cosmos.
The Vedas say to recognize and be grateful for the peach tree, because the peach tree grows peaches not for itself, but for you. The rivers carry water, not for themselves, but to quench your thirst. The flowers bloom not for themselves, but for your senses to feast upon. The cows produce milk not for themselves, but for you.
See how the cosmos are cocreating an amazing life experience for you, making existence a gift. Notice how everything in the universe is a natural “giver,” while a human being is mostly a “receiver” or “enjoyer.”
Here’s a quick way to become a giver in this very moment:
Thank everything you notice with your eyes, smell with your nose, hear with your ears, touch with your hands, and taste with your mouth.
Perhaps this grateful contemplation will lead you to wonder: “How can I, too, become a gift to the universe? How can I give back in my own unique way? How can I shift from being a mere receiver and enjoyer, to becoming a contributor, giver, helper, and sharer in the cosmos?”
These are dharmic thoughts that flood our mind with all new thoughts of interconnectedness, compassion, and noble ideals, that transcend the sorrow-causing, egoic default mode of the samsara. Once we start giving back and practicing cosmic gratitude, our daily choices become naturally aligned with our giving consciousness.
5 Veda-Inspired Giving Back Actions, may they be of benefit:
1. Give Back to Mother Nature.
The Vedas say that we, as humans, are deeply indebted to Mother Nature, her soil, her rivers, her mountains, her trees, her fruits and vegetables, her animals, earthworms, birds, butterflies, honeybees, cows, horses, her air, her sunshine, and her five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. She nurtures us like a mother while we are alive, and she accepts our discarded body at death willingly!
What can you do to show your gratitude toward Mother Nature? The Vedas answered, plant a tree, preserve seeds, and think grateful thoughts at the very least. In the modern connect, you can:
>> Eat organic and non-GMO foods exclusively.
>> Recycle and compost.
>> Care for dying species (plant or animal) by supporting a reputable sustainable growth initiative.
>> Do your part to clean our polluted air, rivers, and seas.
2. Give Back to Parents and Ancestors.
The Vedas ask us to plan to be consciously “present” when our parents are diseased or dying, especially when our parents are physically, financially, or mentally feeble. They may become cranky, cantankerous, wrinkled, and anger-arousing at times and yet, the one who walks the path of dharma becomes protected, says the Vedas.
We are asked to consciously overlook any errors in our upbringing, since many parents are unconscious themselves (victims of spiritual ignorance), and not everyone is lucky enough to receive knowledge of dharma (the conscious or higher path) in their lifetime. To show your gratitude, you can:
>> Deliberately think grateful thoughts toward your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, dead or alive (even if the care/love you received was minimal or lacking).
>> Write and send them a card.
>> Say a prayer for them.
>> Visit them more often.
>> Think kind thoughts about them at the minimum.
3. Give Back to Humanity
Everything we consume today for our lifestyles and the progress of mind and culture, be it knowledge from published books that make wisdom available to us in our own home, laptops in which we record and share our thoughts, utensils to cook our food, electricity to run our gadgets, clothes to wear, online technology to-go, and so on. These are all accomplishments and endeavors of human beings—thousands of unknown faces, hearts, and minds, whose hard work, sweat, and sheer industry make it all possible for us to lead the life we lead.
So, we must cultivate gratitude and give back where we can. According to the Vedas, you can:
>> Think grateful thoughts toward this nameless, faceless humanity that comes to your assistance.
>> Give a helping hand to any human in need who appears before you—this human may have been involved in the pipeline of your own well-being!
>> Be generous, be kind, provide charity, practice non-violence and compassion.
>> Go out of your way to help distressed human beings—this is an essential aspect of dharma.
The thoughts that connect you to your inherent generosity and compassion are door openers to an entirely new portal of conscious existence.
4. Give Back to Divine Forces: Deva yajna.
Dharma is asking us to bow inwardly (and outwardly too, if we wish) in recognition of an all-pervading divine principle. This divine principle is the underlying, undeniable intelligence that makes all wisdom from every culture including the Vedas available to us through the speech of purified seers.
In recognizing a supreme intelligence that weaves the allness of our experience in its divine colors, we are acknowledging that our ego is not the start and end of existence, but that it is a part of a greater divine “Existence, Bliss, Consciousness (Satchidananda).”
Dharma asks that we cultivate ultimate grateful thoughts toward this divine power in any way we can. On a daily basis, you can:
>> Connect via your mind either with meditation on an all-pervading Divine Presence worship, mantra, or other chants.
>> Place a flower or fruit on your altar (at home or in nature), or light a lamp or a candle, and give even simple acknowledgement to the divine presence that dwells everywhere, and within your heart, via your grateful thoughts.
This keeps the human ego beautifully surrendered to its source. It does not matter which faith you follow, or which God/dess you believe in. The Vedas say confidently, “The Truth is One, the wise call it by many names.”
5. Give Back to Teachers Who Awaken Your Inner Guru.
The Vedas guide us to express our humble gratitude to teachers of sacred Vedic knowledge, instruction, and dharma. Thanks to their teachings, we are able to journey every day in little matters, from darkness to light. Without teachers of Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta (and other Vedic wisdom fields), we would continue suffering, never knowing that happiness and immortality was our true nature. In the modern connect, you can:
>> Thank your teachers in your heart via meditation, mantras, or simple acknowledgement.
>> Thank them and support them with your words—write letters, make heartfelt comments on their blogs and social media venues.
>> Share with others your personal story of transformation and the role your teacher/guru made.
>> Share what you have learned and are learning from your teacher with your circle and beyond.
>> Express your gratitude through gifts of service, skill, or donations.
Without Vedic teachers in the presence of our lives and their honest preservation and transmission of the timeless wisdom, we would never learn how to turn on the light from within and achieve an inner transformation.
This acknowledgement of grateful interdependence by the Vedic sages differs from the individualistic approach to life in modern times.
The Vedic view extols the execution of one’s dharmic roles and responsibilities, as it automatically fulfills the rights of others. Emphasizing dharma or value thoughts fosters a climate of social and spiritual responsibility, which is necessary, especially today. This contrasts with the current world trend toward entitlements and expectations, which creates a culture of blame, compensation, and irresponsibility.
As best I can on a daily basis, I gratefully serve and acknowledge the five representatives of my cosmic family: Mother Nature, Humanity, Ancestors, God, and Teacher(s)/Guru(s). It brings me untold peace and happiness. I serve where I can. I let no opportunity pass of serving, caring, and sharing—the crux of dharma for me. And in turn, I feel radiant, blessed, and content, inside and out!