Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Good old Dogen, Soto Zen founder, had a few words to say about generosity and giving. After Kevin's comment on the last post referring to the Tenzo Kyokun, I happened upon phrase hung in my bathroom (yes, Dogen graffiti) from Bodhisattva's Four Methods of Guidance.
To leave flowers to the wind, to leave birds to the seasons, are also acts of giving.
I take this to mean leaving alone what doesn't need to be meddled with. It's a great reminder that sometimes the way to give free of attachment and desire for reward is to do nothing. To let be. How often do you miss seeing this kind of non-doing as giving?
Not only should you make an effort to give, but also be mindful of every opportunity to give.
Dogen is trying to get us to expand our view of life, to be open and receiving moment after moment, and to understand that even recognizing the opportunity to give in a situation is an act of a bodhisattva.
A king gave his beard as medicine to cure his retainer's disease; a child offered sand to Buddha and became King Ashoka in a later birth. They were not greedy for reward but only shared what they could.
You don't have to do anything more than you can. I sometimes forget this. I also sometimes have too narrow of a definition of "what I can." So, these words are both a call to pay attention to my thinking around giving, and also to learn my limits more clearly, so that I may more fluidly move between doing and non-doing, offering something and leaving things be.