It’s relatively easy to be enlightened when sitting in the meditation hall. But the point of our practice is to extend the energy and composure of our sitting practice into daily life.
Returning from the meditation retreat, kindly inhabiting your experience, being present with your posture and breathing, you are full of joy at giving.
Giving can be practiced even when you are alone. If you just think of giving, even a blade of grass or a piece of paper or anything that would be of benefit to someone, if you really want to give it, and feel full of joy and warmth at such a thought, this is giving.
Giving can be practiced even if you have virtually no material wealth to give or share. You can joyfully and sincerely practice giving by thinking of giving things that don’t even belong to you.
Traditionally, we speak of three broad categories of gifts: material gifts, gifts of fearlessness, and gifts of dharma.
The practice of giving material gifts develops through becoming more and more intimate with the thought of giving: your own possessions, your merit, and finally, even your own body.
Gifts of fearlessness take several forms. The first form is to liberate beings from physical captivity, bondage, and torment.
Another form of giving fearlessness is to implicitly or explicitly recognize another person as buddha, showing him respect and appreciation in such a way as to foster his self-respect and confidence. And finally, literally demonstrating fearlessness for the edification and encouragement of others is giving fearlessness.
What is demonstrating fearlessness? It is being upright, willing to be who you are, and being that way so completely, fully, joyfully, enthusiastically, kindly, and compassionately, that others see and feel it and are inspired and encouraged to be fully themselves as well. You give yourself to yourself, and you give others to themselves.
The third and most precious category is gifts of dharma. This precept encourages the bodhisattva to find a way to transcend the separation of self from other, to be free from the discrimination of this from that.
In all your relationships, in each moment, ask the question, What is being asked of me? What is the most precious thing that I can give right now? How can you find it? How do you give it?
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