~:~ You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give ~:~
attributed to Sir Winston Churchill
But whenever we give – be it our time, effort or money – there remains that nagging calculating voice at the back of the head which unconsciously or consciously is asking what and when will you get something back in return. So how can we be truly generous – able to give without the expectation of receipt so as to be able to practice the highest form of generosity – unconditional love?
Why are we not able to give freely without the expectation of getting back?
It is a loaded question and perhaps inherently unanswerable.
So many writers have focused on how to make us give freely. Often, they have turned to two particular Yamas – ethical rules to be observed – as coded by Patanjali:
Asteya – non-stealing of another’s belongings, time, money, energy, attention, etc. This Yama reminds us to take only what is freely given and to be generous in our giving
Aparigraha – non-acquisitiveness. This Yama reminds us of letting go of what we don’t need eg excess belongings, food, etc, becoming non-attached. Importantly it is about letting go, even of expectations of what should or will be ‘given in return’.
We can also answer this question by taking guidance from our Asana practice. In order to be able to be truly generous we need to give from the heart. In order to give from the heart, you need to “be” the posture.
For example, practicing Triangle posture – we become not only one but at least three triangles – refer to the illustration. So we are with the body, mind and spirit in that moment – doing, feeling and being triangles – rather than analyzing what should a triangle be, why not a square, etc etc. Thus, by being truly (from the body, mind and spirit) generous we are able to contain the nagging voice searching for that return receipt.
Practice from the heart
Abiding by Asteya and Aparigraha and being in and becoming heart-opening Asanas, it becomes easier to lose attachment to things. Instead sharing and being generous become progressively positive practices.