By Dipankar Khanna
If we considered the aspect of giving against receiving, we would notice that giving is a naturally occurring reflection of our true nature. For example, breathing in requires efforts and synchronisation of muscles, but breathing out requires no effort at all. The fruit-laden tree is a symbol of giving through letting go. As soon as the fruit ripens, it is dropped. Allowing the fruit to rot on the tree itself would have resulted in the rot spreading deep down to the roots, the very base of its existence. The tree thus stems the rot by giving up and letting go of its ripe fruits.
However, we humans lack this instinctive wisdom. Little do we realise the manner in which our material acquisitions gnaw at our vitals, making hollow the very essence of our being. Today, our thinking patterns are at best sensate and materialistic – short-term and immediate. Consequently, we suffer the ill-effects of clinging instead of letting go. This results in the accumulation of stress in life instead of enjoying relaxation, tranquillity and peace.
Let’s think in terms of our own body. Suppose a certain organ decides to keep all the blood within itself and refuses its flow to any other part of the body. What do you think would happen? The blood in that part of the body would begin to accumulate and clot. It would become venous and turn into poison. This poison would travel to other parts of the body, and the whole body would become diseased and sick.
We are strong and healthy when our circulation is smooth and in order. Proper circulation of blood in our system ensures that oxygen and the life-force pass from cell to cell. When we fall sick or become old, the movement of life-force and blood in our body become sluggish. That is why sickness and death are companions of old age.
Often, our attachments border on miserliness. This attitude of clinging strongly, binds us to our gross materialistic moorings. It permeates to the depths of our soul and twists it. We then get corrupted in the way we lead life and interact with others. Even the sacred bond between a mother and child gets affected when we become greedy, selfish and want to hoard everything. It also causes feuds between brothers, friends and near and dear ones.
We have a choice whether we want to be like the fattened goose buried underground till the neck, receiving high quantities of food but no movement, and later being cut and served as the delicacy called foie gras; or to live life with a fluidity that giving, receiving, loving, caring and compassion bring about.
Giving or dana paramita is one of the six perfections in the Mahayanist’s repertoire. It is also the second in order. The other five being shila or morality, virya or energy, kshanti or patience, dhyana or meditation and prajna or wisdom. The bodhisattva’s path to unparalleled enlightenment follows this route in ascending order.
The simple paradox as St. Francis of Assisi points out is in understanding that ‘it is in giving that we receive’.
- Dipnkar Khanna
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