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Philosophy Tuesday

October 27, 2015

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

“We are embodied spirits who need raw material, both physical and spiritual, to create. But we forget that we are also social beasts who need not slash through the bramble of those needs alone.

In Buddhism and other ancient Eastern traditions, there is a beautiful concept connoted by the Pali word dana (pronounced DAH-nah), often translated as the virtue of generosity. But at its heart is something far more expansive — a certain quality of open-handedness in dynamic dialogue with need and organically responsive to it. The practice of dana has sustained the Buddhist tradition for two and a half millennia — monks give their teachings freely, and the lay people who benefit from them give back to the monks by making sure their sustenance needs are met.

In a sense, dana is the art of not-having-to-ask — a natural and intuitive recognition that the energies poured into creating meaning (and what is art if not the making of meaning?) must be replenished in order for that stuff of substance to continue flowing through and fertilizing the ecosystem of interconnectedness in which all beings are entwined.

In the modern West, governed by the invisible hand of tit-for-tat mentality long before Adam Smith articulated its grasp, we’ve had to master the art of asking as a coping mechanism making up for our intuitive but atrophied mastery of the art of not-having-to-ask.”

Maria Popova

The above quote hit me like I didn’t expect it to. Reading through, I was overcome with emotion and wonder and possibility. The notion of listening to others, of really being in tune with others, of responding generously to others. Of being in a world where support is given, yet support is also not expected or demanded. Where there is enough flow that we are taken care of. It is commerce without the zero-sum game. It is offering what we can, not what we can get away with. It is an interchange of people, small groups who interchange, who support each other. It is that we do not devalue some work, some people, some positions, it is a valuation of all who make our world(s) run.

And on the personal level, the level that hit me the most, it is a profound listening by friends and families and the feeling of being freely supported while you, in turn, support them.

There’s no taken for granted, or taken for a ride.

There is no “transactional equation.”

There is needing to go it alone and make it alone.

There is simply kinship and appreciation and lives being made.

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