Over the years, many have described me as the most generous person they know. I help people as much as I can, I give freely and actively engage in the world to make things better. I’m the guy you lean on in a bind, I lend a hand and open my heart and listen as intently as possible, seemingly always present and with you. I really wish I was that guy all the time but I’m not and my acts are not all so noble, I assure you. Over time I’ve begun to recognize the motivation and intention behind my actions are often far more relevant than the actions themselves. I have observed on numerous occasions when the physical act of generosity was fueled not in some altruistic noble intent but rather from a desire or even need to be seen, recognized, admired, appreciated, loved, bla bla bla bla bla.
And here I was believing I was making such a beautiful dent in the universe. My humanness remains and the work renews itself everyday. Of course that’s how it goes with all of us so I’m in good company.
100% pure noble intent is not possible and I know that striving for impossible creates suffering while surrendering to reality creating abounding joy and ease.
I’m not convinced this is all bad— the good work, the action itself still served someone, something… regardless of the intention behind it. But I’ve come to get that generosity is a double sided coin, it’s as much for the giver as the receiver and so while my good acts helped the receiver, it’s within the quality of my intention that I receive the reciprocal gifts of extending generosity. That’s where my focus is these days, on the quality of my intentions. I find myself walking around asking myself, “dude, why are you really doing that?” It’s a powerful question and leads me to do more, or less, depending.
According to the ancient teachings, true happiness naturally gets spread around. If you are authentically happy it’s an automatic that you generously extend your happiness to others. In fact, you can’t not. The root of my true happiness is based in my intentions, specifically my intentions that fuel my good works. The nobler my intention, the sturdier my happiness. The sturdier my happiness, the more impactful my generosity. It’s all so beautifully connected.
Buddhist teachings suggest that their are six factors to generosity, three for the giver and three for the recipient.
Before giving, glad; while giving, the mind is bright & clear; having given, one is gratified
Before receiving, glad; while receiving, the mind is bright & clear; having received, one is gratified
While the factors are the same, there really is no connection to the two. True generosity has no strings attached; expectations of how it will be received must be let go. This is hard work. Same goes for the receiver… but the marriage of the two is how real happiness is exchanged, or as wisdom says, “spread around”.