What is it to be Generous?


To give freely and abundantly, without any thought of reward or compensation, but with a pure heart and intention, this is what it is to truly give generously.

How often do we truly give generously? Really, from the heart, without expectation of any kind of return?

I’ve realised that for myself, this is far less than I would have myself believe. I like to believe that I’m a good person, kind and generous, giving freely and abundantly of my time and resources whenever I can.

When I look more closely at my thoughts and behaviour before and after the supposed good deed, I find myself somewhat disappointed. It turns out that real generosity with the absence of expectation is a far greater virtue than I can currently offer…

I find that at worst, when I give something even in the spirit of sharing or teaching, I hope for some tangible eventual benefit, monetary or otherwise in return. My inner need to build a business and earn a good living seems to permeate my most honourable intentions and hold them hostage.

At best when I give freely of my time say, to a friend or relative, the expected reward that lurks behind the scenes is more subtle, and takes the form of desired recognition or gratitude or appreciation.

What’s wrong with that I hear you say? Wanting to be appreciated or recognised for the good deed of giving? Nothing – if it were not the fact that the absence of such rewards leads to secret indignation or a private backlash from my ego.

This then cannot be truly generous giving on my part. It is merely part of a business transaction that I appear to engage in, expecting something in return for that which I purport to give freely. In fact, this is the worst kind of business transaction, where the recipient is not even made aware of the true cost of their supposed enefit beforehand, for it comes cloaked as generosity and a good deed.

And the irony is that the one that is bound is not the recipient, but rather myself, hungry for the reward that I secretly coveted behind my apparent generous gesture.

img_4259To give without expectation of reward, to do one’s duty and benefit society in the process, this is the prize. My beloved Gita tells me that my right only is to the work, not to the fruit of the endeavour.

Ah, if only I were to live like this, truly in my heart. How freeing it would be be! I would be free to give all of myself to the task at hand, ensuring all of my energy is devoted to the highest quality effort, not detracted in any way by vain hope or selfish desire of future gain or profit. Imagine the cumulative effect of such an attitude on my life.

Such generosity behoves the giver, and surely the recipient feels the beauty and purity of such a gift enhanced infinitely with such purity of love.

What can be more fulfilling then, than to gift others with true love and what they might need most or cherish dearly in that moment?

When our focus is on the act of giving itself, we are motivated by far higher aspirations than measly self-reward or grandisement. We receive great joy in the very act of bringing benefit to others. Moved by our love and regard for the happiness of others, we are elevated to higher acts of virtue and greatness than we might otherwise be capable of…

“I have found that among it’s other benefits,

Giving liberates the soul of the Giver.”    

Maya Angelou


Realising this, I wonder, how can I come into greater alignment with the true spirit of generosity…

It seems to me that being truly generous is a multifaceted way of being.

When we focus on the needs of the recipient, we are moved by love and love flows through us. We experience the true meaning of life which is surely to be happy. The benefits are immediate, whilst driven by compassion and love, we instinctively feel happy in our actions and intentions and in ourself. What surefire way to achieve happiness than to give it in abundance to others?

And when I remind myself of my alignment with my life’s purpose to live my dharma and do my duty by life and the Divine Force of Love that permeates all of reality, my intention becomes a no-brainer.

Give for the joy of giving, to know that the true recipient is I myself, for how much richer do I become in every way as I purify my own soul and grow my own potential, desiring only the benefit and joy of the other…

Give in the certain knowledge that as I benefit the other, the person who has gained the most already is myself. Give then, in the spirit of gratitude for such a blessed opportunity.

Perhaps the greatest inspiration and guidance comes from the wise and beautiful words of Mother Teresa:

“It is not how much we give,

but how much Love we put into the Giving.”