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Lions Roar : January 2014
we encounter. It could be a smile for the grocery-store checkout lady still reeling from an angry customer’s words, a nutri- tion bar and a look into the eyes of the homeless man asking for recognition on the corner at the stoplight, a hug for our child distressed by bullying, a refusal to bomb our far-away enemy. We naturally know what to give. We don’t have to work to produce generosity. We just have to practice deeply. True and accurate generosity is the natural out- come of practice. JAN CHOZEN BAYS is a pediatrician who specializes in the evaluation of children for abuse and neglect. She’s the author of Mindful Eating. The Heart of Generosity By Gina Sharpe The mental states we encounter when we sit in meditation—difficult emotions, negative thoughts, and even the pains in our bodies—are the consequences of life-long habit patterns and viewpoints that result in dukkha, or suffering. We know from the second noble truth that the source of dukkha is greed, attach- ment, and craving. These cause us to hold on to what appears to give us relief from our suffering—things, people, view- points, habits. Yet, if these give any relief at all, it is at best temporary. The heart of generosity—giving, shar- ing, and caring for others—breaks this cycle of attachment and the resultant suf- fering. Through generosity, we let go of self-centeredness and our mind/hearts open into loving-kindness, compassion, and tenderness. We experience our inter- connectedness—how we rely on the gen- erosity, caring, and hard work of others for our well-being. These realizations are direct antidotes to dukkha. Aligning our actions with them brings us true happiness. Three aspects of the noble eightfold path help us practice giving: right under- standing, the first aspect; right mindful- ness, the seventh; and right effort, the sixth. With right understanding, we know that selfishness and miserliness are nega- tive states of mind. When selfishness asserts itself, we see it, and right mindful- ness supports this seeing. Having become mindful of selfishness and attachment as unwholesome states of mind, we practice right effort: we make a balanced effort to abandon clinging and to cultivate the wholesome state of generosity. One of the ten daily monastic reflec- tions may be helpful in cultivating the generous heart: “The days and nights are relentlessly passing. How well am I spend- ing my time?” Imagine a world in which we all hold on tightly, where generosity is not an option or worse, is not even known? What would it be like to live in such a world, where we work only to get and hold on to whatever we can for ourselves, without any thought for the welfare of others? Is that a world in which we’d want to live? Or can we together create a world of kindness and compassion, in which we respond appro- priately with generosity? After retiring from practicing law, GINA SHARPE cofounded New York Insight Medita- tion Center. Nothing to Give, No One to Receive It By Norman Fischer “May we with all beings realize the emp- tiness of the three wheels, giver, receiver, and gift.” Zen practitioners chant these words before eating a meal. They remind us that the food about to be eaten has not been earned; it’s a gift. But this gift is not to be understood in the usual way. “The empti- ness of the three wheels” means that this giving isn’t a beneficent act one performs for another, an act you can take credit for or feel worthy or unworthy of. A Zen practitioner about to eat a meal remem- bers that giving is life—that everything is giving, everything is given. There are no separate givers, receivers, or gifts. All of life is always giving and receiving at the 48 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2014