In looking at the forth teaching in our Doctrine, we are reminded as people to be wary of our attachments, both material and personal. As I continue to walk down my path towards a (hopeful) broadening of understanding of what it means to be, the issue of the material self isn’t something that someone can simply wish away. As a condition of your birth, you share a connection to a state of need in which food, shelter, and securities are not fundamental rights and that we must impart some sense of selfishness to ensure that we can continue continuing to be a part of this world. The fear of failure to provide for these basic needs causes us to enter into that since of stirring and swirling states in which we attach ourselves too tightly sometimes to the thought of losing what we so desperately need to nurture ourselves for some idea of a future. How scary of a thought it could be to do the utmost best we could to ensure our survival, and the survival of the ones under our care, and yet still fall victim to the happenings of the world around us.
This month’s reflection covers the existence of greed and the opportunity for generosity to blossom from within it. Right now, in this present moment, I’m sitting at the desk in my office typing this message out holding onto the expectation that I don’t have to worry about being canned tomorrow. Surely the thoughts that we have, after being comfortable with something for some time, is that we don’t really have to actively think about losing it. In healthy, cared for minds, we don’t often worry about losing what has already been given because doing so would cause us to enter that hypervigilant state of paranoia and we truly wouldn’t get to experience the most out of it. In my marriage, if I am constantly worried about my wife leaving me for another person, I’ve robbed both myself and her from the total experience that I could be sharing with her and us, by not being with her. You see, in that state of worry, we pull ourselves away from that experience and we place ourselves in cycle of having to solve an issue that may not even be there.
But going back to the point I was trying to make, I’m not worried about losing my job because I know the effort that I’ve been putting into it has been, at a minimum, satisfactory, otherwise, I would have been replaced already; but that doesn’t mean that I have total security in that basic need. In fact, my job really isn’t guaranteed, but an unhealthy dose of worrying about it wouldn’t do anything to help the situation. No, I don’t need to play through every scenario as to why I should be losing my job, or how it could be done; but a healthy since of being a bit greedy (in the lightest since of it), can lead me to evaluate my own needs and areas of development insomuch that I can outwardly apply them to care for the people within my circle. Losing my job would put a financial strain on my current lifestyle, but the main focus should be geared towards the nearly selfish instinct to meet my own basic needs. If I don’t have a solid ground to stand on, then my platform for generosity cannot be planted firmly either.
Now, I’m not equating financial success or “having” as the basis for generosity, but on the root level of being able to give, we place ourselves in a much better position to extend a hand when we allow ourselves to be taken care of first. This is purely selfish behavior if you allow the story to be stopped here, but out of each experience, a kernel of good can be found to manifest and promote change on a social level. In my experience as a mental health worker, I cannot let my personal stressors become a barrier to being a benefactor of change to the people I serve and I cannot let my professional stressors be the breaking point of my marriage. When you are providing a service or extending yourself to lessen the suffering of another, it’s so vital to remember to reflect back on your own needs as well. Barriers in one’s basic needs are not a reason for someone to be unkind or outwardly deny the duty to help another person. I am not, and cannot be responsible for the care you provide yourself. You have to evaluate your own needs and the limits of your ability to be a service. You have to recognize the sense of SELF in your world and interpret how you can set yourself up to be caring within your limits. You have to learn to love yourself because there isn’t a single person on this Earth obligated to do that for you….not a single one. Each moment of kindness, each smile, each act of generosity is given as a gift and should not be expected. So in knowing that each act of kindness we receive is a willful experience, know that each time you lessen the suffering of another person, you didn’t do it out of obligation, but as an act of giving. It was a choice you made to experience life with another and you must own that action.
As we close another year, remind yourself that you can make a difference within yourself and your community. Your ability to face the circumstances of your life and to actively choose to commit yourself to be the benefactor to lessen the suffering of someone, even if that’s just yourself is enough. I make the conscious effort to remind myself that suffering is suffering, regardless of who is doing it. It’s not a competition of who suffers more or less when it comes to giving because nothing but circumstance separates me from you, or you from me. Each experience that life chooses to unfold to us must be met with the vivacity to face it with courage and to continue to do the most we can to experience this beautiful drama that we all partake in.
But all of this starts with us…as the universe unfolds itself in all of its twisting and turning, your choice to commit to your needs and your choice to be the difference in the life of another ripples outwardly and effects the experience of being. The kindness you give to you can open the opportunity to impact the life of another person who just might need it; but please learn to listen to yourself. Know your limits and recognize sometimes that you cannot own the actions of another…but most importantly be kind to yourself.
May you be happy, may you be free, and may the Force be with you.