This afternoon I went to a yoga class at a meditation center that I sometimes visit. As the session came to a close, the teacher stated that the center runs entirely on a donation basis, and then explained the concepts of dana and generosity as it relates to a meditation/spiritual practice. At the end of the brief discussion, the teacher wrapped up with, “Being at either extreme is not skillful. If you give too little, you won’t be happy. If you give too much, you won’t be happy. So pause, listen to your own heart, and then give what you feel is appropriate to give.”
This closing statement really struck me. When I give what I deem to be “too little” (be it money, or time, or effort), I feel guilty afterwards. I know inside of myself that I could have (“should” have) done more, and I didn’t – and guilt arises. That side of the equation I understand.
What was a new awareness for me was the concept of over-giving. Yet this is also very true in my life: When I give “too much” (be it money, or time, or effort), I feel angry afterwards. I know inside of myself that I was taken advantage of, and I should have been more courageous – and I wasn’t. And anger at myself, and resentment at the other, both arise. This I didn’t “see”/realize/have words for until the moment the teacher spoke them – and then they clicked.
Any time I have a moment of insight – a new, deeper, clearer understanding of myself, or others, or the world – I am simultaneously excited, delighted, awed, and grateful. Today was no exception.
I put what I felt was a very appropriate donation in the bowl on my way out the door – and happiness did follow. 🙂