How to develop through the art of giving

 

When we wish to give somebody something to make them happy, it is a fantastic state of life to be in. Giving can be done in many forms. It could be spending time encouraging someone, giving a material present, physically helping, donating money, writing a beautiful letter… It doesn't matter what it is, or how much. The point is do we feel liberated when we do it? The ideal to work towards is giving with a desire to make someone happy, to enrich their lives. That is liberating and can be learned. This is the type of giving that comes spontaneously out of our inner-selves. Unfortunately this is not the most frequent sensation associated with giving. In practice, because our ego constantly tries to communicate to us what we have to lose by giving, and because our materialistic culture is so much more about taking than giving, we may often find that giving is done begrudgingly, with guilt, or at best with an expectation of getting something in return. It's a natural human tendency to be fearful of self-sacrifice but in the cultural backdrop of imbalance and dominance of the ego, we are deluding ourselves to a great degree, building a fortress of needless defence. We are free to learn to give freely! The bonus is that we reap great rewards automatically as a result! By gathering experience of conscious giving, this can be understood deeply, so that our trust in life is strengthened, generally.

 

I don't wish this scenario to be confused with the event of real self-sacrifice where people give too much because they crave love from others. This can cause huge financial problems, exhaustion etc. and extreme negativity if it is not recognised. That is NOT what we are aiming for here! The attitude behind giving is what determines whether real value is created in the long-run. If giving freely and working towards that ideal makes you feel good, then you must be on the right track.

giving more. You may even have to learn to accept gifts, in whatever form. That might be money, time, help, things…..It could be that you are obsessed with maintaining your independence, for example.

 

In any case – if it were possible to feel the freedom and pleasure of giving more unconditionally, more often, that would surely be a more fulfilling, enjoyable experience. But how can we be sure such efforts  don't actually lead to sacrificing yourself? The answer is simple: experiment wisely! I wouldn't want people to suddenly give away all their material possessions, money or available free time on an experimental hunch without thinking it through. However, I do believe it is important, as always, to get outside of the comfort zone. The zone of habit. Experiment with small risks and see what the results are. Discover how it makes you feel and try to sense the appreciation felt by the recipient. If you give kindness to someone, it doesn't even matter if they don't reciprocate, because you are free to create value, regardless. If that doesn't persuade you that such giving is worthwhile then consider that all kindness is received but the effects may not be visible for some time. Many individuals are unconscious still and wrapped up in their egos of fear. They need time to respond to the sigals that enter their subconscious, we need patience here.

 

The theory is also that if you consciously develop your art of giving value to others, you will receive benefits in many ways, not just happiness in yourself. It will also be in the form of material benefits that you may really need at one particular time, to help you with your further personal growth and empowerment. You can only judge whether that is true in your own experience with a mixture of the best objectivity possible: that means with your wisdom. Your inner sense. Your intuition. 

 

Some benefits may not accrue until much later, but you can see with time where your life is heading. That's the beautiful thing. You don't need to analyse every single detail of new methods that you apply, instead, use your intuition which can better interpret the intricacies and interactions of cause and effect in your life.

 

But even in itself, feeling that sense of joy, being a share happiness with another person to whom you have given, opens up new doors in life because it makes you free.

 

You can try the following method in the order stated if that seems best, or throw yourself in the deep end and try the "hard" option.

Occupy Wall Street: who’s really got us by the neck?

 

I was at a local demo yesterday. I would be the first to see those financial squanderers and speculators who impact the lives of so many, replaced with a much more humanistic bunch. I would love to see a heavy taxation of all those destructive practices, so as to free up resources for truly worthy things like quality education designed to build character instead of puppets for the economy. I am encouraged that so many are starting to get together to approach the problem. Demonstrations can be a good first step but must be built on by finding lasting, fundamental solutions.

 

When people feel increasingly that their own personal freedom is being downgraded, they may eventually hit the streets and start shouting about it. More rarely, they will do it in support of their fellow humans, when they themselves have "nothing immediately to gain from it". If the latter case described the majority of the population, we probably wouldn't be in the mess we are today.

 

Our system is unjust. It is based upon greed, separatism, competition, dominance and fear. But these values pervade all levels of society, not just big business, banks and politics. Their weaknesses may be far more publicly visible but that is only a symptom of all that has gone wrong with the Western notion of “progress". A lot of people would love to be in the shoes of a fat cat bank- or corporation executive; it's just that some individuals are better at getting there than others. When they empty their excrement on us, it's easy to forget our own greed.

 

If we were to ask the displaced farmers in Brazil, various indigenous populations in many parts of the world or Iraqi children suffering from cancer due to depleted uranium poisoning, “Who do you think has got you by the balls?", They might well point the finger at us, i.e. anyone who lives in one of the enormously privileged, rich, industrialised nations which exercise their military might and economic stranglehold of poor nations whenever it suits, to keep the consumer society up and running. That's us: consumers. Every day we make choices that have an impact on others, very often unconsciously. Relatively and generally speaking, we are the “still haves" whilst they are very much the “have nots". For them it is a daily fight for survival because evermore of their land is stolen or rights abused in order to provide us with luxuries for consumer satisfaction: iPhones, cheap petrol, cheap meat, cheap holidays abroad etc etc.

 

These casualties of consumerism have been around for decades now but few have got onto the streets to support them!

 

It still amazes me when I go to our local organic shop in Munich, that I am amongst a tiny minority of people who take their own reused bags – and in some cases – plastic containers to be filled up again. You would think that would be the majority of cases within circles of people gone “organic". Aren't the alarm bells ringing loudly enough? Cause and effect? Rising oil prices, waste, critical situation?

 

This is one of the many scenarios that show how our apathy has got us in a vice. At the same time it demonstrates the capacity that we do have to change things. If we are paralysed by bad habits ourselves, how can we point fingers at the banks and politicians? The answer to my question is that our own blindness has got us by the balls, but only if we let it. Who really wants war, to have to do a meaningless job, increasing toxification of the environment, an ever widening gap between rich and poor? Deep down, nobody, but we have some fundamental adjustments to do in our belief system. We need to develop a compassionate, peaceful, fighting spirit, and act with resolve. Yes, let's boot out the black sheep in power, but more importantly – let's transform the philosophy of greed that allowed such insanity to take hold in the first place!

 

Every single tiny action counts these days – if all the people who waited for others to change committed even a small deed one day to prove to themselves that they might not actually be victims – that would make a fundamental difference. We can inspire one another with our actions. It might not visibly change the world overnight but the world will have changed nonetheless: we will have taken a step to nourish all that there is that can ultimately save us: the awareness of our own humanity.

What is empowerment?

What do I mean by empowerment? Let’s first exclude the contradictory interpretations. I am not talking about the commonplace, materialistic notion of the giving of power, or enabling because this is by default limited to material dependency. It is not about having or enabling political power or the power to control or manipulate others, being at a competitive advantage, achieving unlimited technological progress or having access to vast choices of affordable material goods. It is not about licensing to destroy.

Whilst these features of a materialistic society might appear to seem beneficial in the short-term, it is only at the cost of others less advantaged and the environment. What goes around comes around: the greed, aggression, domination and all the symptoms of a belief that we live in isolation from one another, has bred more of the same.  In fact this belief, although part of human nature, is psychopathic, irrational and yet so institutionalized that it allows for extreme human rights abuses to be committed, and often directly or subconsciously hidden from others’ eyes, whether through media control, politically, or individual cover-ups. That world-view says nothing about how to enable the sense of freedom and hope, despite e.g. a lack of material possessions, low status in an official hierarchy, a period of illness or conflict with others. It only tells us how the material status can be improved for a limited time for a restricted number of people and ignores the costs to a dangerous degree because it doesn’t understand the concept of unity.

True empowerment is when an individual or group recognizes that they have a choice to push those limiting fears aside, the type of fear that constrains our creativity, love, wisdom, compassion, ability to follow our dreams. It is the enabling of courage to rise up out of incapacitating negativity and apathy, to move forward towards the desired situation. It is when we start to understand that our lives are inextricably linked to others’ in a vast network of existence, despite our differences, so we become more conscious of our responsibility to support the whole and not just the self. This allows compassion and wisdom to increasingly infiltrate our thoughts and deeds. Simply the connection with the whole gives a sense of place and meaning to life which, naturally, creates a deep feeling of happiness in itself. It is the use of free will to choose new, unexplored paths that broaden horizons instead of narrowing them. It is the creation of a vision of value for the self and the whole. In these moments we are empowered. We are then conscious of the power to change the course of our lives for the better, and how we can positively influence our environment. We can act, regardless of how hopeless a situation may seem to be at the time. The voice of hope becomes louder than the voice of circumstances. We cease to be the effect and instead become the cause. We see that problems are a springboard for gaining greater strength.

This is the greatest power there is to be experienced, because problems become our nourishment when they unavoidably arise!  When this all becomes the basis for our life, we will start to manifest amazing, ultimately desirable changes. Life becomes an adventure, something joyous, precious and full of meaning and patterns of causality. We become grateful for the wealth that life has offered us. Empowerment is the realization of happiness through unity and free-will. Once we become empowered we are in the position to make quantum leaps in personal development relative to the non-conscious state. We start taking full responsibility for our situation – we are the creators.