Guru Nanak Devji, the first Sikh Guru, defined 3 pillars for living a moral and just life for his students. They are Kirat Karni or earning a righteous living, Naam Japna or meditate on the Universal Energy and Vand kay Chakko or share first and enjoy together. In this is encapsulated most of the temporal philosophy of the Sikhs.
At the level of compassionate beings we all believe that it is our moral duty to share our good fortune with others. We may have received the grace in varied forms, be it material wealth, mental ability or physical prowess. Some family and friends work with NGOs and tirelessly help those who are facing health and economic challenges in life. Then there are others that share their wealth and give freely to charity. Yet there are the nameless who help whoever or are there whenever needed, serving entire existence whatever it may ask of them.
Guru Nanak Devji asked all his followers to give Dasvandh or 10% of their earnings to those in need or for a worthy cause. He prodded us to always remember that our good fortune has been through the collective help of a lot of people, it should be recognized and shared as inspiration to the entire community. At the same time he also asked us to remember not to be self-conceited about the giving as whatever has been given unto you can also be taken away as easily and not to get attached to the haume – the Ego-Mind. I read parts of the Bible and Jesus always reminded his followers that it is more important to give selflessly than to give a lot.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the over prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable? There are those who give little of the much which they have and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.Kahlil Gibran on giving in his book ”The Prophet”
Gibran’s thoughts on Giving to me is a great summation on the philosophy of sharing. I always try to remember that it is not ”I” who is the giver. My persona is just an instrument for the exchange to take place between the Giver and the given. We would not be in the position of relative comfort if it were not for the combined efforts of my parents, teachers, coworkers and employers. Many a times when I write prose or poetry, it comes from somewhere deep within. The Inner Self created an expression and yet it hard to disassociate my Ego-Mind or Identity from that expression. Similarly, it is tough not experience joy or find virtue in the act of giving. To just be – is actually the hardest thing to do.
When it is said that, give and you shall receive more, it is not some sort of moral discourse, it is almost the most logical thing to do. It applies not just to material things but also to actions we perform and thoughts we have. When we pass on something to the Universe, without preconceived expectations – when we pay it forward – perhaps we are letting-go. It is being non-attached to ”our things” and then existence will work towards bringing it back, if we truly deserve it.
I resonated with the sentiment below and thank the person who expressed it originally, unfortunately have lost the source. Sharing it as is:
”I was recently sitting with my friend for a cozy afternoon tea. I had the baby with me. One of his new accomplishments a typical baby action is dropping things, waiting for them to be picked up and given back to him and letting them fall once again. My friend commented that we should learn from Children they have no problem letting things go! This is the first exercise in letting go because if we are grasping on to something tightly, how can we be open to receive? It is by opening and letting go that we enable God, Guru, the Universe, the Infinite to provide for us, to provide us with abundance. A child has no doubt of this, he or she freely drops things, and always expects to receive more. Young children are never worried about what they will get they simply expect it and it is thus provided for them. Perhaps that is why it is said, that children bring their own prosperity with them.”