by Gregory James
The sun gives its light freely, and the winds blow at no charge to you. Beautiful flowers pop up from the fertile soil without demanding a penny. Birds serenade the daylong and ask not for gratuity. And I have never known a shade tree to require compensation of any kind.
The Natural Way is this: Free Exchange. Do not misunderstand; the exchange I speak of is not of artificial currency or supplementary service. The exchange of which I speak is simply the Natural Grace of receiving, and the Natural Grace of giving in like kind. The sun has no one to whom it may send its light, were there to be no one to receive it. The song of the birds is no longer beautiful, were there no ear to listen. And for whom would the flowers put on their show, and for whom would the shade tree provide sanctuary from the heat, were there no Being present to receive these gifts.
I tell you truly, your gracious receipt alone is exchange enough for the Universal Gifts — for what is there to be given without one who may receive? Your wise and present reception — empty of covetous and full of gratitude — is that which “compensates” the giver. Does a tree pay the sun for its light? Do the songbirds pay the tree for its hospitality?
Moreover, how does the sun lure the tree; and the tree the songbirds? It is by simply Being the sun, and by simply Being a tree that their Being — and their gift — is received. Nature offers no false hope; it slings no sales pitch; it does not send out spam-mail, nor does it catalogue its prospects. It knows nothing of credit and debt, and there are no hidden fees or gimmicks. Nature simply IS Itself, and all its parts Know their place within it.
It is only in what we crudely call “human nature” where confusion takes root. If only you could Realize the Fertile Field in which you are planted, you would Know your place within it. And herein you will grow to produce a Great Crop of Abundance. If only you could recognize the free gifts that are given for you, you would receive freely and give in like kind. Herein, you are True Being.
When Jesus gave us the teaching, “Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing,” he was talking about free and equal exchange; about Being of the Center and so the Whole; of not separating one from the other, giving rise to disharmony. It is this Harmonious Equilibrium that knows not the left from the right in a manner so as to account for one or another, but rather knows both as itself. He was referring to harmony in a manner that illustrates the Unity within duality that does not interfere with the duality within Unity. He was talking about complete and equal exchange; truly Free Exchange; not too much and not to little; no deficiency and no excess.
The Buddha called this the “Middle Way,” (Madhyamā-pratipad) and in Taoism it is called, “Jiǎn” (儉) – usually crudely translated as “Moderation.” But Jiǎn, in its fullest sense of the word is that which permits the free flow of exchange. In Ancient Chinese, Jiǎn means also to restrain from excess, or to be in between two extremes wherein a perfect equilibrium is the foundation of Being. This principle of Jiǎn is the very principle of complete and equal exchange. And this is the most free gift of All.
The way of the world is not Jiǎn. The way of the world is to take as much as you can for yourself and give as little as possible in return; it is to account for everything within a measured value structure that places more value on yourself and your work, and less on others. This is the very drive and definition of profit-mind. And the systems of our world are totally profit driven. This makes even the best of us suffer the constraint of profit-mindedness, as it is taught to us from the first years of our lives, even by our own families, and unconsciously reinforced in our day-to-day relationships and rituals. And even when we liberate ourselves from such nonsense, it is non-the-less imposed upon us as a means to live in the world.
So, we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and Give to God what is God’s” — living in the world but not of it. The Spiritual Way, the True Way, is to give completely with no thought of return. Herein return arrives by the very Way in which it is given — because the receiver is free to give and free to receive. To achieve this, empty what is full and fill that which is empty. Practice and BE the Center. It is the only Way to Freedom!
Without the Center — and without Jiǎn — no clarity can be found in one’s Being, or in our world. Only mistaken thinking and corrupted reasoning can arise from this, and further only misapprehensions about love, joy, and the nature of attachment. Without the Center, the head is only capable of selfish and broken thinking, and the heart only attachment to deficient pleasures. As such, we see a world wrought with excess, waste, degradation, and insatiability.
Reason belongs to the head, and joy to the heart. Both are necessary but neither is the Source. The Center is the Source, and from this Boundless Foundation arises a wellspring of joy for the heart, and good, sound reasoning for the mind. So practice your practice , and go all the way! Wake up to witness the suffering of the world to which you yourself contribute. Shake off your fog and Awaken! Seek a Teacher to guide you, and engage the Right Effort and Right Attitude to deepen your understanding. Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is only suffering without the good sense to see why. Know the Center and Know your place Herein.
Awaken, weary traveler, and Realize the Free Refuge Within.
“Non-possession is allied to non-stealing. A thing not originally stolen must nevertheless be classified as stolen property, if we possess it without needing it. Possession implies provision for the future. A seeker after Truth, a follower of the law of Love, cannot hold anything against tomorrow. God never stores for the morrow. He never creates more than what is strictly needed for the moment. If, therefore, we repose faith in His Providence, we should rest assured that He will give us every day our daily bread, meaning everything that we require…. Our ignorance or negligence of the Divine Law, which gives to man from day to day his daily bread and no more, has given rise to inequalities with all the miseries attendant upon them. The rich have superfluous store of things which they do not need and which are, therefore, neglected and wasted, while millions are starved to death for want of sustenance.” -Mahatma Gandhi
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