Generosity is a gradual development. So then you do it gradually yourself. Also you shouldn’t give the wrong thing. It should have its own morality. You don’t want to give wrong things. For example, don’t give me sugar, because I am a brutal diabetic. If you give me sugar I will enjoy and eat it, but that’s not a good gift. It has no morality of generosity. You giving something to somebody that harms them.
If you give drugs to a person who is addicted to drugs, it’s morally wrong. But if that person would die without that, if you are saving the life of the person who has such strong withdrawal symptoms, then drugs should be given to save their life. That becomes the wisdom of generosity. That wisdom should know what to give and what not. Generally you don’t give drugs to addicts. However, if their life depends on it and they would otherwise die, I should have enough wisdom to give them the drugs.
So generosity alone has all the six perfections. There should be patience. You don’t just give and throw things, saying, “Take it or not.” That is not the way of generosity. There should be respect and patience. Maybe you are giving to the poorest of the poor, the dirtiest of the dirty, but you must have respect. After all, that’s another human being. Even if you don’t have that much respect from the individual point of view, but from the humanitarian point of view we must respect that person. As a Mahayana practitioner, as a bodhisattva, as a person who is practicing generosity, one must have patience to be able to wait for that person and have respect. You are not feeding some hungry dog!
You also need enthusiasm. Whatever you give, be happy to give, be very enthusiastic, making sure that whatever you give is going to be useful and helpful to that person. You must be excited to give. You can’t be two-minded, thinking, “Should I or should I not? Well I would like to, but not today, because I like to sleep” or something. That is not right. When a person needs it, when it’s that time, give very enthusiastically, because that will be useful and helpful and if you will be excited to give they will be excited to receive.
Not only that, you also have to focus and concentrate. If you are unable to focus on what you give it’s not that great. Probably then you will give the wrong thing. So you probably give a piece of meat to a vegetarian. That’s not right. It is unfocused. You are not thinking and focusing. So many things can go wrong. So make sure you are focused so that you give the right thing to the right person so that is useful and helpful.
If you give to a person who has not idea about Chinese porcelain art a 17th cup, which is very expensive, that person will have no idea what to do with it. Probably they will drink water from it and break it. So then it is all wasted. If you don’t focus that can happen. If that happens it is a loss, a loss to the art community in the world and useful to that person who has no idea what it is.
Not only focus, you also need wisdom. I did mention wisdom a little earlier. So you have all combined together. So that’s generosity. Most importantly to remember is that you should be able to give everything you have, whatever they demand. One should be able to share and give, but making sure that you give useful things to the right person, with the six perfections together. If you do that your generosity will be great generosity. Generosity is the cause to become perfect and to have endless, inexhaustible wealth.
~Gelek Rimpoche, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, August 26, 2012
Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2018