It’s wonderful to have a season dedicated to giving. But of course the whole of our lives needs to have the spirit of giving as a permanent feature.
Here’s an inspiring excerpt from the newly published book, Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi which is dedicated to that important part of life.
GIVING AND RECEIVING
“The purpose of social behavior,” Maharishi wrote in Science of Being and Art of Living, “is to give and receive for mutual benefit. The first fundamental in the art of behavior is: meet with warmth, and meet to give. If all people in society behaved on this level of giving, social behavior could only result in the advancement and glorification of everyone’s life.”
This may sound idealistic, but it is practical to the highest degree. When individuals meet with the intention of giving the best of themselves, based on what we might call the “principle of giving,” relationships become more positive and mutually supportive. If people interact with the attitude, “What can I get out of this relationship? What’s in it for me?” then no one gives, so no one receives, and the inevitable result is disappointment at best, frustration and anger at worst.
A relationship based on giving is mutually fulfilling. Not only does the receiver gain (and if both give, then both receive), but the giver gains simply by giving. “Giving,” Erich Fromm wrote in his classic book The Art of Loving, “is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. This experience of heightened vitality and potency fills me with joy.”
It’s easy to see how this could work well in our most intimate relationships. But this principle can be applied to all our interactions. Why not give as much as we can in every facet of our lives—with our parents, children, our students and teachers, our friends, our employer or employees, our co-workers, and with all those who give to us by serving our needs, such as our doctor and dentist, the mail carrier, the plumber, and the person at the supermarket checkout counter? Why not make a slight shift in attitude and decide to undertake our work, our occupation, not just as something we do in order to bring home a paycheck, but in the spirit of service to others? Giving does not have to be a monumental task or manifest as an armful of gifts; all it takes sometimes is a smile, a kind word, or a sincere “Thank you so much!” As Mother Teresa was fond of saying, we can “do small things with great love.”
Of course, for the principle of giving to be most rewarding and effective (especially in our close relationships), it has to be practiced equally by both sides.
At the height of human development, in higher states of consciousness, a life of giving is entirely spontaneous, for a fulfilled person needs nothing from others and is free to give continually from an overflowing heart. “A sincere sense of giving can only arise on a level of contentment,” Maharishi said. “Only contented hearts and minds can think in terms of giving.”
A meditating high school teacher discovered this in her own life. “How can a person give love if she doesn’t first have love within herself? How can a person bring peace and harmony to her environment if she isn’t first peaceful and harmonious? It makes all the sense in the world to take the mind to an awareness of its own essential nature in bliss consciousness. Having gained that awareness, that joy, and that lightness of heart, one very naturally spreads love and enthusiasm to their surroundings.”
From the newly published book, Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, by Jack Forem, p. 137-138. Hay House. To order a copy (50+% off the regular price), CLICK HERE.
Stephanie Finamore is a meditator who lives in Middletown, Maryland and is a volunteer at the Washington DC/Bethesda TM Center