Generosity and the giving of time: a talk for Buddhist Action Month

As part of our Buddhist Action Month series on Generosity, this week I gave this talk on Generosity and the giving of time.

The official description from the Auckland Buddhist Centre’s website is below (thanks Mary Anna for writing these up!)… but it actually ended up shifting into something a bit more esoteric once I started pondering: what even IS time?!

A finger is sometimes pointed at Buddhism accusing its practitioners of sitting on their cushions, wishing everything to be well and happy but not actually doing anything practical to achieve it. Yet in Buddhism the Bodhisattva ideal exists, where Buddhists dedicate their lives to the alleviation of suffering of all, and tirelessly dedicate themselves to this task.

In this spirit Buddhist Action Month (BAM) was born. Buddhists commit to taking action in areas of concern, usually around the degradation of the environment or issues around poverty and other social concerns.

Most of us have intentions to act with care for the environment and a desire to help those less fortunate. However, many things seem to get int the way of translating this intention into action. For some, feelings of scarcity and lack shrink their perception of the resources they have available to offer. Others are overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness or dissuaded by feelings of hypocrisy from giving their resources to a cause.

This is where the “Perfection of Generosity” – one of the practices of the Bodhisattva, serves us well. Generosity is an act of love, and out of love comes the spaciousness, energy and resources to act. Generosity connects us and imbues our lives with wellbeing and meaning. Generosity provides the resources to act in any situation, so that we take action not only in Buddhist action month, but we live Buddhist action lives.

Over the month of June, we will cover the following themes:

  • evoking Ratnasambhava and the spirit of generosity
    • giving money
    • giving time
    • giving to the care of the environment
    • how generosity makes us happier, creates more meaningful lives and the science that supports this idea

29 June – Elizabeth U – generosity and the giving of time

Elizabeth gives her time to many unpaid causes. She will talk about the factors that enable her to give her time for free and for the service of others. She will speak to the busy-ness of our lives, how we need to evaluate how we spend our time and what makes time well spent. She will also touch on time scarcity and the perception of “enoughness.” She will explain why we need to make space for generosity in our lives and how we can do that.

No Surprises: a Regina Spektor Radiohead cover that’s perfect for these times

A couple weeks ago Triple J’s Like a Version re-released this 10-year old performance of Regina Spektor’s rendition of Radiohead’s No Surprises, with much better video quality this time around. It’s definitely near the top of my list of favorite covers, and it’s so perfect for these times.

If I were savvier with audio editing I’d release a version without the criminal audio stings at the beginning and end, alas! Here’s a link that starts after the initial sting, or click play below; either way, be ready with the volume control so you’re ready to bring it up after the initial sting and down again before the VERY mood-killing sting at the very end of the song:

If you liked that, there’s also an alternate audio version of the cover, also recorded back in 2010 as part of a fundraiser for post-earthquake Haiti and Chile and (via?) Doctors Without Borders. May we all find ways to be generous in troubled times, no matter what we have to contribute!

And of course, the original:

…plus the lyrics (source):

No Surprises
by Radiohead

A heart that’s full up like a landfill
A job that slowly kills you
Bruises that won’t heal

You look so tired, unhappy
Bring down the government
They don’t, they don’t speak for us
I’ll take a quiet life
A handshake of carbon monoxide

No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
Silent, silent

This is my final fit, my final bellyache with

No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises please

Such a pretty house, and such a pretty garden

No alarms and no surprises (let me out of here)
No alarms and no surprises (let me out of here)
No alarms and no surprises please (let me out of here)

These are generous times: some online yoga offerings from my favorite teachers (etc)

Be Kind Stay CalmAs tempting as it may be to focus on what’s falling apart, I’m in awe of the generosity I’ve experienced and witnessed lately, and doing my best to pay it forward.

Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says
To the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look
What happens
With a love like that.
It lights the
Whole
Sky.

Ashley Sharp invoked this twice during the yoga class she streamed yesterday from her Pudding Creek refuge. Whether written by Hafiz (Hafez?) or Daniel Ladinsky, these words released an enormous sense of… relief? gratitude? after weeks of feeling so incredibly fortunate while also wondering: “Am I doing enough to help?” Not to mention the more frequent thought, “I know I could do a LOT more, but wow I’m exhausted.”

I am beginning to recognize that my desire to keep doing more and more is an attempt to avoid feeling certain emotions: anxiety, grief, confusion, overwhelm. I would like to trust that we’re all doing as much as we can with whatever edible, technological, financial, and emotional (etc) reserves we’ve got available.

A remarkable gift emerging from these times is that we suddenly have unprecedented access to healing practices offered from afar, so we can continue to fill our own cups! I am so grateful to many of my favorite yoga teachers from my California days for making their teachings available online (see list below).

Last weekend I had the immense privilege of taking Devi Daly’s first remote yin yoga teacher training course — thank you thank you thank you Devi for a lovely and inspiring three days! — and yesterday I taught my own first remote yoga session ❤

If you feel you would benefit from a bit of yoga instruction in your living room, here are a few resources from teachers I love:

I haven’t actually tried these yet, but you might find the yoga offerings on these sites useful?

  • Yoga for the People offers free live-streamed classes, videos you can watch whenever, and even a podcast if you’d prefer a simple voice to guide you.
  • MyYogaWorks has a massive online class library, and you can sign up for free for the foreseeable future using the code “ONLINE“.
  • DoYogaWithMe is offering their premium subscription for free for 2 months.
  • Down Dog (and all associated fitness apps) are offering their courses free through May 1st for most of us, and through July 1st for K-12 teachers and healthcare professionals.
  • Yoga with Adriene has been teaching yoga on YouTube for longer than just about anyone… check out this awesome Yoga for Uncertain Times playlist! ❤
  • Fitbit offers streaming yoga classes through their app as part of their premium offering; if you haven’t already taken advantage of the trial offer for newbies, you can get 90 days free at the moment.

There are probably many, many more online yoga options available; I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments and I’ll be updating this post as I hear of new resources 🙂

Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life

vicki
Of course this woman is one of my role models (Source: yourmoneyoryourlife.com)

I finally had a chance to read the new edition of Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, a book that had a huge influence on me when I first discovered it back in the late ’90s.

With this book, co-author (and now friend!) Vicki Robin sparked the FIRE, or  “Financial Independence, Retire Early” movement… though few people were aware of this until relatively recently. She is a huge inspiration to me, and I definitely aim to be like her when I grow up!

The new edition includes a wider range of examples from Millennial types, and the chapter on investing is FAR better aligned to today’s investing climate.

YMOYLIntrigued? Vicki has generously shared a VERY detailed summary on the fancy new YMOYL website, but I still suggest you buy the book, and spend some time with it!

In addition to calculating how much money we’ve earned over our entire lives, and what we have to show for it (aka our net worth; this is Step 1), we’re instructed to calculate our real hourly wage, a function of our life energy, and track every cent that comes into our goes out of our lives (Step 2). And we get into the habit of tallying up our spending by categories that are relevant to our lives, and we regularly convert those monthly spending totals into hours of life energy (Step 3).

But my favorite step by far is Step 4: Three Questions That Will Transform Your Life: Continue reading “Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life”