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.