On Generosity

Generosity is about being as transparent as possible about my experience, sharing both the surface and the depths of what my world is like with others – in every moment.

Truthful words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful.
Good men do not argue.
Those who argue are not good.
Those who know are not learned.
The learned do not know.

The sage never tries to store things up.
The more he does for others, the more he has.
The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.
The Tao of heaven is pointed bud does no harm.
The Tao of the sage is work without effort.

Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching: Eighty-one
Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, 1972

Generosity is about being as transparent as possible about my experience, sharing both the surface and the depths of what my world is like with others – in every moment. This does not imply constantly talking, sharing everything that goes through me, but rather discerning between what is really alive and important for me and what is not. Generosity is expressing my vulnerability without putting demands on others.

These days I often think of the way I relate as a fear or love dichotomy. I increasingly notice how i navigate through fear. I pull back from doing the things I want to do and being with people in the way I want to be out of fear – of being rejected, of being too much, of being needy etc. I notice how i in so many situations hold back (or rather pull away and into myself) as a fear reaction.

I find that love presents another option than going with fear. Love, in this perspective, means “staying open” and being with what is. One aspect of this is being intimate with and feeling myself, another is generosity towards others and “commitment to connection”.

“The difficulty is that the defensive defensiveness of the ego recoils from the very thing that would allay it – from association with others based on physical gestures of affection, from rites, dances, or forms of play which clearly symbolize mutual love between the members of the group.

…there are countless associations between people who, claiming to be firm friends, still lack the nerve to represent their affection for each other by physical and erotic contact which might raise friendship to the level of love.

Our trouble is that we have ignored and thus feel insecure in the enormous spectrum of love which lies between rather formal friendship and genital sexuality, and thus are always afraid that once we overstep the bounds of formal friendship we must slide inevitably to the extreme of sexual promiscuity…

…In other words, the greater part of love is a relationship that we hardly allow.”

Alan W. Watts, The Joyous Cosmology

Some of my core experiences related to love and relationships (and my fear of being with love) has come out of circling. I clearly remember how, on the last weekend of my 6 month training with Circling Europe in 2014, the question “am I really allowed to live like this/am I really allowed to love like this?” came to me. This question has stuck with me ever since and constantly reminds me of the ways in which I am limiting myself from living fully and being in love with the world.

In the last few years of my life I have experienced falling in love more times than in the rest of my life accumulated. It has come in many forms, but all with an aspect of “I want you in my life” and “I want to be close with you” at the core.

When I first heard Charles Eisenstein say that “Love is the expansion of self to include the other” a few years ago, it resonated a lot with me. It matched a recurring image of mine; a dark globe filling up with more and more lights as I opened my heart to more people. Something that very much felt (and feels) like an expansion of me. It feels like these are the people (and trees and places) that co-construct my reality with me as I use them to navigate life. And it feels like they only come in these days – no-one seems to leave my world again, when first they come in.

I have heard clever people say that you should not collect lovers, but rather realize that you are never going to run out of love. I feel split in this. On one hand I can feel how I attach to the people I love and don’t want to let go. But on the other I also feel the expansion of feeling love for (and falling in love with) more and more people that I meet.

I do however trust that the more of myself I dare to share with others, the lighter I feel and the more love there is in my world. Generosity towards others in other words is the greatest gift I can give to myself.

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