"Irwin, a frog who will take must first give - this is the beginning of intelligence." I'm not awake enough to quite comprehend the full meaning of this but I smile anyway, as if I get it. I know evetually the meaning will become clear. Then Dharma begins to explain. He starts of with a simple definition of intelligence; "Intelligence has been defined in many ways including one's capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, planning, creativity, and problem-solving; to preceive information and retain it as knowledge." So what does this have to do with the act of giving and receiving, I wondered. Dharma must have read my mind because be gave me the answer.
We often say the, "He/She is a wonderful person...a real giver." But giving isn't a solo activity. My teacher said that in order to give, there must be a receiver; both parts must be present in order to complete the act. We often forget this. It's important, too, to learn the difference between giving and receiving vs, doing and taking. Dharma explained to me that if we feel empty by our giving, giving, giving...and often feel that we are getting nothing in return, the act is probably doing...not giving. And when we "do" there are always an abundance of "takers." The act of giving and receiving involves circulation; what goes around eventually comes around. Everything in the universe circulates; a river must circulate to keep everything alive and vital. So, too, the blood in our bodies must circulate. If it doesn't, clots are formed and, eventually, the clot will kill us. The universe "operates in a dynamic exchange; giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy," says Deepak Chopra, an expert in mind/body medicine. So, if giving and receiving must travel hand-in-hand why, then, does it feel good to give and feel uncomfortable to receive? "Tadpole, we often equate receiving with shame and weakness; traits that both humans and us frogs, believe make us inferior in some way. There are only a few who truly ever master the art of receiving."
To receive, requires us to open up; to let go, become humble, and trust the giver. This isn't an easy procss for anyone. But, thankfully, Dharma has given me a few, simple exercises to help encourge receiving. For without the ability to receive graciously and humbly, we cannot really know how to give.
1. Accept all compliments. Be thankful for the compliment and say "Thank you."
2. Have gratitude. Be grateful for all you have; count your blessings.
3. Allow yourself to be YOU. Learn to love yourself...all of your strengths and weaknesses. It's important to learn to love our warts as much as our "beauty marks."
Try not to pretend to be perfect. Your not. No one is. By showing only your strengths, you aren't being real. Being real facilitates both giving AND receiving. It allows us to see ourselves in others.
4. Stop complaining. What we are really saying, when we complain, is that we're not happy with what we're receiving. Have you ever given someone a gift and they "blew it off" because it wasn't what they really wante? it didn't feel good, did it? Complaining is just like that. When we complain, in essence, we're blowing off the universe who's given us a gift. It may not always be what we want, but you rest assured, it's what we need.
If someone is capable of receiving, the act of giving is complete and both sides benefit greatly from this process. But if the receiver is unable to accept, then disappoint, powerlessness, and guilt ensue. This only makes the situation bad for everyone involved. Giving and receiving is Yin and Yang; perfect balance.
Receiving is much harder for us to learn than is the art of giving. But it is a most important lesson. When we can both give and receive, gratitude, love, and empathy grow immeasurably. And there is no greater intellence; no greater knowledge.
As I was tidying up after my lesson, I remembered a quote from Buddha.
"Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted." We can take this one step further and add that the receiver is also happy, peaceful, uplifted, and filled with gratitude. And when this happens, it becomes the perfect act.
Normally, I would close and say to go out and give to everyone you meet today; a flower, a smile, a compliment. Instead, I will suggest that we all try to work on receiving. Be gracious and humble for every gift you receive. Even the ones you may not want.