Sometimes history is presented as a series of wars. The existence of conquest is one side of the story, but equally present is generosity. Now, it seems more than ever, this generosity is taking flight.
Two atom bombs were dropped on people in the last century. How many hospitals were built? How many days, weeks, and years were devoted by volunteers to helping others after natural disasters?
Even though the US has the largest military in the world, there are many more Americans giving themselves to others as healthcare and education workers. The gifts of love, protection, education, and health are given in abundance all across the planet.
The great texts encourage us to aspire to be able to give even our bodies. This is with the caveat that only a genuine bodhisattva, who would be able to give their body without any anger or attachment, is permitted to perform this type of generosity.
However, in today’s world, anyone can give their body painlessly! Or parts of it, anyway. Today, the Red Cross is here conducting a blood drive. I’m quite amazed that our world has actually given rise to a cultural institution of generosity that has become so totally integrated into our lives and healthcare system that it’s seen simply as an expectation or duty.
Generosity is in fact a state of mind – a mind that gives without attachment or hope for reward, wishing to benefit the recipient. If I cultivate this attitude, even paying taxes can be seen as an immense act of generosity. Imagine everyone in the country paying taxes with this attitude! Tax day would become the most anticipated day of the year, and unlike Christmas, people would actually feel happy!
Today, I will try to give blood with an attitude of generosity. I’ll hold in mind the remarkable foresight and kindness of all the people who developed the infrastructures to make acts of generosity so easy in today’s world.
I’ll recall that as incredible as giving material aid is, the only way to give a gift that brings lasting benefit is to cultivate within my mind infinite, impartial compassion and the wisdom that perfectly understands the nature of reality. Thus, I will give what I can in the present while aspiring and working towards the ability to give others the means for them to cultivate true causes of happiness within themselves; the compassion and wisdom that free us from self-centeredness and ignorance.