December 26, 2011

On Giving

Posted by sumitra at 10:11 PM
One of my favourite poems written by Khalil Gibran, is called “On Giving.” It pretty much sums up everything I would want to say on the topic at hand. Nevertheless, it is quite a long poem, so what I’ll do is talk about a few verses/phrases and what they mean to me.

And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

I can relate to this, especially in terms of the ideology of savings that middle-class Indians follow. I don’t believe in saving everything I earn, simply because it is a futile exercise. Lakhs and lakhs (maybe even crores) are stashed away in the name of savings, while millions die of hunger. Neither does the owner enjoy it, nor does the poor man. Do we really need to horde money for our future generations? Savings can be made, in moderation. Beyond that, money needs to be put to better use.

And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

Those who give today, will be taken care of tomorrow. In other words, what goes around, comes around. Therefore, we need never to fear in giving what we have. It’s true.

All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

Just like we say in India, we aren’t taking any of our wealth to the grave. We have to give it all up at some point. So give now. Not when you’re 40, not when you’re dying, not when you have ‘enough’. Giving can start now.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.

They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.

I cannot talk enough about this. I have met countless people who say “But will it reach the right people?”, “Oh, it doesn’t make a difference, the middle men will steal it away,” “That beggar’s got arms and legs, he can work for himself,” or “That beggar is old/handicapped so I can give him money”…

What is our strange sense of attachment to wealth that we feel what is ‘ours’ should go only to someone ‘deserving’? What would happen if the mango tree decided to give its fruit only to the deserving? Aren’t we all allowed to climb up, just the same? If a person is worthy enough to be alive, I am no one to judge if he is worthy enough to receive. It’s the giving that counts, nothing else. What the receiver does with the money is entirely not up to me.

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

I am not the real giver. It’s life giving to life. I’m merely the instrument. This is a beautiful, profound thought that I wholeheartedly subscribe to.

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

Truly giving of myself is perhaps the toughest thing for me. It’s easy to say, but quite opposite in reality. Especially when I have to give of myself in my own home. When I realize that life and situations would be easier if I swallowed my pride, showed kindness to the people who I feel are getting on my nerves, when I have to put my needs aside and pay attention to those of others. Letting go of my wants, desires, needs, habits, in the interest of everyone at stake, is how I attempt to give of myself. These are very trying situations. I try my best, I fail, I try again.

Of course, these are my own opinions, what I choose to follow. You may have your own and I will be glad to hear them. Please fee free to share!

Read the full poem, here.


CookieCrumbsInc. on December 27, 2011 at 12:08 PM said...

That's a lovely poem, indeed. Very apt for the discussion.

And I agree when you say start giving now. People wait till they have 'enough' which is a Utopian concept in itself.

Keirthana on December 27, 2011 at 8:09 PM said...

Lovely poem and lovely explanation Sumi :)

A content heart is a pre-requisite for giving, which is lacking in most people. They think that they do not have enough and hence save the giving for later! Sad, but true.

Sunitha Vijayanarayan on December 28, 2011 at 6:51 AM said...

Loved the poem. And the way you explained it , shows just how good a person you are.

sumitra on December 28, 2011 at 7:20 PM said...

@PeeVee: I'm glad you liked the poem. Thanks :)

@Keirthana: Thanks! "A content heart is a pre-requisite for giving" - very true words there.

@Sunitha: Ahh, no I'm not that good :D but thanks for liking the poem and my explanation :)

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