years ago, something unusual happened: Things began to appear
in my life, seemingly out of the blue. A necklace with a heart-shaped
crystal, which I had never seen before, turned up in the wrapping
of a gift I was preparing to give. A book I had not bought
appeared in my shopping bag with others I had purchased. It
happened often enough that I could call it a pattern. At the
same time, other things "disappeared": a book, a shoulder
bag, a shawl.. These occurrences felt mysterious to me because
the objects were here one minute and gone the next. Or not
here one minute and present the next-with no apparent means
of arrival or departure.
Of course, I could think of plausible explanations
for all of them. A store clerk inadvertently adding someone
else's book to my bag, someone accidentally scooping up
my shawl in the cloakroom. but that didn't change how the
experience felt to me, or how I made sense of it. Being
something of a mystic at heart, I take the view that events
can hold meanings that may not be readily apparent.
The puzzle was that these events did not
seem coincidental; the patterns were repeated too often,
and unambiguously: physical objects were coming and going.
Regardless of all logical explanation, it felt almost as
if they were being moved by some unseen hand, as if they
were being "given" and "taken away." Like a Zen koan, the
questions posed by these comings and goings jumbled my mind.
What did it all mean? What was I to do with these "gifts"?
Was I supposed to keep them? Give them back? Give them away?
Why were some things being "given" and others "taken?"
Earlier in my life, I developed the habit
of viewing events that I don't understand as if they are
a dream carrying a camouflaged message. So I asked myself,
"If this were a dream, what would it mean?" As I contemplated
this question, these words stole quietly into my awareness:
the land of the heart
there is no giving
and no receiving.
It is all One.
that, all of my questions were silenced, and my mind came
to rest in the quiet of the heart.
me, those words capture the essence of the art of giving.
In the land of the heart, there is no giving and no receiving.
It is all One.
As Wayne Muller said in a previous issue
More Than Money Journal
: "When giving and receiving
are done really well, the line between giver and receiver
begins to dissolve a little. When you see someone throw
their arms around someone else in a great big hug, who is
giving and who is receiving? Both benefit."
issue on "The Art of Giving," some related themes emerge:
the role of connection in artful giving, such as connection
to self and others, connection to something greater than
ourselves, connection to forces that move us in ways we
might not predict. When giving is artful, there seems to
be a natural recognition of a profound bond, which causes
our sense of separateness and isolation to diminish and
which honors the natural dignity of both giver and receiver.
Perhaps, in its essence, artful giving is heart-full giving.
journal issue you won't find much of the vocabulary customarily
heard in the philanthropic world. You won't find a lot of
talk about "effective" or "strategic" giving, about "risk
and reward," or about how to measure the outcomes your giving
is trying to achieve. There is certainly a place for that,
but, interestingly enough, those words didn't show up when
we asked people these two questions: Is giving an art? And
if it is, what makes it artful?
interviewees reflected on these simple queries, their spontaneous
responses covered a wide range of perspectives, including
the importance of listening when giving, the personal authority
one develops by participating in the giving process, what
it takes to give together harmoniously as a family, what
it can mean to give your time and passion to those you love,
practical tips for giving artfully, and how adopting innovative
business practices can be a way of giving artfully.
people represented on these pages offer both philosophical
musings and practical advice. You and I get to listen in
as they reflect out loud about their own experiences and
observations of giving. I suspect that their words speak
so eloquently to us because this is a realm in which we
all have profound experience. We have all given. We have
all received. And we continue to give and receive every
day, with our time, our attention, and our resources.
season of giving, I hope the reflections inside this journal
will inspire you to your own ruminations on the art of giving-and
lead you to greater meaning and fulfillment in your own
Policy: The views expressed in More Than Money Journal are
not necessarily those of More Than Money. We encourage and
support respectful dialogue among people of diverse viewpoints.
In each journal issue, we provide a range of perspectives
on a topic to stimulate reflection, conversation, and inspired
"Think Big, Think Small: Two Models for Giving Effectively,"
An Interview with Steve Kirsch and Wayne Muller, by Pamela
Gerloff, in "Effective Giving: Finding Your Own Path," More
Than Money Journal, Issue #26, Spring 2001, p. 27.
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