Selfish generosity - the best of all worlds

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When I was about five years old, my parents took a vow of poverty, and pledged to give away most of their income for the rest of their lives. Which was hard for me as one of the older children, expected to participate in giving and giving and giving, without having needs of my own. I was to be a giver, not a taker.

Over time, I developed a love/hate relationship with generosity. I wanted to be generous, but I was upset that it came with so much pain. I wanted good things for myself, but was afraid of being selfish.

It's been a long journey, still in progress, getting to a beautiful place of generous giving with loving boundaries. This quote from Toko-pa Turner's gorgeous book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home helps me a lot: 

"It is the way of all nature to be of service to something greater than one's life alone. Real worth can only be achieved in relation to the greater whole. The apple tree, for instance, is generous with its fruits, offering those gifts to anyone who wants to be fed by them. But it also serves itself in that the apple-eater becomes a carrier for the tree's seeds to proliferate. When we tune into our belonging with all things, there is a similarly combined urge to both succeed in life and to make our life an offering unto the commons."

An apple tree, giving away apples, with all the orchards they contain inside, is a symbol of the ultimate, generative kind of generosity, which is part of the reason we've chosen a very fruitful tree of life as our Awaken logo. 

And at the same time, the apple tree flourishes as it gives. It is not chopping off its roots, or drying up the nearby stream. Quite the contrary, it requires nourishment, sunshine, water, and careful tending for its generosity to be so deliciously bright and juicy. 

What's so scary about letting go?
What's that knot in my stomach saying?


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