Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Generosity; Receiving Life the Way Dry Earth Receives Rain

Simone Weill, a French philosopher and searcher for the universal thread to spirituality and a path to transcendence once said,

 "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity"
and that 
"Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer." 

The word generosity comes from a word meaning, "of noble birth". The words related to nobility were courage, justice, kindness and gentleness. We are all of noble birth and can act with that courage, that heart, that gentle kindness. 

We can act from a generosity of spirit that can remain unguarded; because it exists in a state of abundance and plenty-fulll-ness.  Because generosity of spirit is constantly replenished, it is inexhaustible. 

It is from the well-spring of the Noble Heart that we can give attention to life, living in that "pure and rare state of generosity." 

In the dictionary Generosity is "seeing someone or something as valuable, as interesting,  and having a readiness to share and to extend ourselves" 

When we are attentive in this way, wisdom and insight are illuminated. Our attentiveness becomes a sacred act, a prayer.

 We extend ourselves and become generous by going beyond. Going beyond the edges of our perceived identity. Allowing those edges to dissolve a bit, to soften, so that we can receive the life in and around us the way dry earth receives rain.

Dry earth allows rain to soak in, to permeate, and in that allowing dry earth is revived and replenished. 

In softening our "edges" and our armored heart, we relax our ideas of how things should be. Our curiosity, our interest, allows us to naturally, easily,  go beyond the Me, me, me, beyond the usual concerns of our own busy-ness.  We become more attentive to ourselves and  to "the other", whether that's a person, an animal, nature or the moment itself.

As companions on life's journey, we have the opportunity to be generous. We can listen with our whole body, to words spoken and unspoken.  We can see one another with "innocent eyes" . These innocent eyes recognize both a person's physical condition and whatever suffering is presenting itself and at the same time see the untouched, pure, great heart of that person.

When we're with someone who is ill, or has a life-limiting disease, an attentive generous spirit allows us to see beyond the disease process to the untouched nature of that person.  There is no saving necessary and no fixing needed.  We are in the presence of the great mystery of life. 

When we allow  the world, the moment, into the body of our attention, there is no giver, no receiver, just a seamless flow of connection that is non-violent, that demands nothing, coerces nothing, saves no one. 

As as Parker J. Palmer suggests:

We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul, that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other, that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonoring its mystery, never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs.”                                                                                            ― Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak