Meditation can a softening effect on our hearts. But having an open heart can feel kind of dangerous, unsettling. What to do? Instead of trying to scramble back into a more closed off situation, there are six actions that you could take instead.
They are called the Six Paramitas, or transcendent actions.
The Six Paramitas are: generosity, patience, discipline, exertion, mindfulness, and wisdom.
We’ll talk about the first one, generosity, today and the other five over the next five newsletters.
So let’s start with what generosity is not! It is not:
-Giving away all your stuff even though you don’t want to
-Putting yourself last
-Giving to others from a sense that you have more than they do
Here, generosity begins with opening yourself up to whatever situation and person you encounter. It also means opening up to yourself, just as you are. In all cases, we open not to manipulate the situation or put forth an agenda or pass judgment, but simply to communicate with it. We give our attention to it. Nothing is more generous than this.
The Zen priest and poet John Tarrant Roshi said, “Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it we bless and are blessed.” I’ve never heard a truer statement. And what is more generous than love?
When you know that you possess this ability to open to your world, you can give up the sense of constantly trying to solidify your stance or guard what you possess. Instead, you can take in the entire spectrum of brilliant, challenging, touching, beautiful, crazy human experience. At this point, a sense of tremendous richness arises. When your generosity comes from richness rather than poverty, it is not parsimonious or diminishing. It is beneficent. It is expansive.
So generosity begins with letting down your guard. And of course, in meditation, this is exactly what we are practicing: releasing concept, judgment, hope, and fear to tune in to the vastness of the present moment.
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