Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

A Simple Way to Cultivate Generosity

A lack of generosity often stems from fear and insecurity, especially in these economically challenging times.  Yet giving is the path to letting go of attachment, which is crucial for a happier and healthier life.

Whatever the root cause of stinginess, the eminent spiritual teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche shows us how to perfect generosity, one heartbeat at a time, in this simple guide to learning how to give.

“If we persist long enough, we can learn to do anything.  Once a rich man came to see Lord Buddha, suffering from such miserliness that he was unable to give away even the tiniest thing.  To accustom him to generosity, the Buddha taught him to consider his right hand as himself and his left hand as someone else, and to think that he was making gifts while passing small objects from one hand to the other.  When the miser had slowly become used to the idea of giving in this way, Lord Buddha told him to make small presents, such as fruit, grain, and the like, to his wife and children.  Then the Buddha told him to give charity, first to the poorest of his neighbors and then to others more distant.  Eventually, he became capable of giving away all his riches, clothes, and food to the poor of the whole province, and at that point the Buddha told him that he had achieved true generosity. ”  ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones

These are the essential lessons, I’ve gathered from this story:

  • We can change!  We have the capacity to train and transform our mind.
  • Start where you are.
  • Start small.
  • Persistence pays off.
  • Apply this same approach to eliminate any negative pattern of thinking, cultivate positive qualities, and overcome bad habits.

Do you find value in generosity?  How does generosity help you?  What blocks generosity?

Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this post please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love,  Sandra


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  1. Wonderful, simple story full of wisdom. Thanks, Sandra. I agree with you–lack of generosity stems from fear–that there won’t be enough to share. I’ve been working with the concept of “enough” a lot over the past year and it’s miraculous.

  2. I like the practicality of this story better than its Christian version, where Jesus advises a rich man that since he has behaved with religious piety all he needs to be assured of a place in heaven is to give away his possessions to the poor. Since he didn’t explain how to accomplish that, the man leaves frustrated, though the implication may be that he will think about it and change.

    The best training I ever got in generosity was having to take the bus and then walk to my job in downtown Los Angeles. Each day I would be approached by different poor people asking for money. I had little myself because it was a low-paying job, but their desperation wore down my initial resistance and I began carrying singles to prepare for them. After awhile it no longer made any difference to me how they had ended up in these dire straits, whether they were addicts etc. It wasn’t my function to judge their worthiness. I was being put in their way, and they in mine, to produce a moment’s hopeful transaction.

    • Hi Mike,

      I found this story very practical too! Thanks for your helpful personal story, which illustrates so clearly how our initial resistance can be worn away to reveal a more giving place within. We never know when giving might actually make a real difference in a person’s life.

  3. I do find value in generosity … it is freeing and helps one develop compassion for others. It opens our hearts to joy. But here’s another thought … generosity can also be applied to our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it seems that the world is angry and that people aren’t being generous in thought. We can cultivate a generous heart by giving a smile or giving a silent wish for the other to have a good day. It’s compassionate thinking … having good thoughts about others instead of negative ones. Wonderful post … thanks for sharing this with us! 🙂

  4. Hi,

    I’m fully on board with generous, compassionate thinking. I love your suggestion and I find these simply expressions of kindness make a big difference for me and others. I really appreciate your suggestion1

  5. Yes Sandra we can all change and we do want to believe we can and want to make changes. As someone who loves change I know I get frustrated when others can’t see how by being generous what I call practicing gratitude each day and seeing the abundance we already have as being the first small step to making that change that then leads one to feeling generous and giving from one’s heart.

    • Hi Suzie,

      Practicing gratitude for the abundance we already have is another essential element for developing our ability to give! Thanks for raising that up. It reminds me of what Charlotte said in her comment, practicing knowing that we have enough and even more than enough. I love the way you leading us in practicing gratitude!

  6. I find tremendous value in generosity, especially of time and energy. When I share my knowledge and time with others I am fulfilled.

    Those who aren’t generous are fearful and have a scarcity mentality. I believe just the opposite. The more I give, the more I get. It’s a wonderful way to live.

    • Hi Flora,

      I feel a sense of wonder from your post and the feeling of how much you have embraced this generous spirit. I love this sense of confidence that you are exuding.

  7. Hi Sandra, I’ve been reflecting recently that, when I’m in a mindset of appreciating myself and others, as opposed to a mindset of trying to protect myself, people around me have a different experience of me, even before we exchange any words. The more relaxed and comfortable with myself I am, the more they feel free to be the same way. I think generosity can come through our way of being in the world as much as it can show up through the specific acts of giving that we do.

    • Chris,

      I’m so amazed by the unique responses to this post. You’ve added another special element. In many ways, this gift of being centered in ourselves in comfort and relaxation is really one of the best gifts we can give. I appreciate this reminder so much. BTW, I loved your song about blogging!

  8. Hi Sandra…I see generosity as a way to acknowledge that we are all one. When we give something away we are really giving it to ourselves…like when the man in the story gave from one hand to the other…what a great symbol.

    Generosity is also an acknowledgement of abundance…I don’t need to fear giving something away because there will always be more and what I give away will all come back to me. Thanks for your insightful post.

    • Celeste, This is another unique perspective! That we are all one and there really is no separation. What a difference it would make if we all had that view. Thank you for taking a moment to share your wisdom.

  9. jean sampson

    What a timely post, Sandra, because I have just been on the receiving end of a friend’s great generosity. I have noticed that it is an energy which, when you receive it, gives you a generous spirit, too! I always need to remember how wonderful it feels to give without wanting anything in return, which is the spirit in which she gave to me.

    • Jean, This is a wonderful perspective! When we remember how it feels to receive, it inspires us to share as well. There’s such a warm feeling in your experience. Thank you.

  10. Sandra, I do agree that a lack of generosity stems solely from fear. It baffles me to see people with so much who cannot or will not give to others and the obsession our society has with security when it is an illusion. If we all shared the resources, there is more than enough to go around which would offer more security than the current system. It is because of pervasive fear, that there is lack.

    I have less than I have ever had financially, yet I give to others more than I ever have because I have learned to live in gratitude and faith instead of fear. It is amazing how this can turn enough into more than enough.

    • Debbie,

      That is such an amazing idea that if we share the resources there would be more security for everyone! I’ve never really thought it through that way, but it truly makes so much sense. Radical probably for many people but a beautiful idea. I’m so glad you mentioned this idea as it has the power to really inspire a more generous approach to life. I love the idea of enough being more than enough!

    • I like how Debbie characterized this too – more security for everyone. Living from gratitude and faith is something that I continue to try to live more and more each day and it is a wonderful place to be. Posts like this Sandra help inspire generous living – thanks for the super practical tips.

      Starting small is the key to all big things in life:)

      • Vishnu, I’m with you on learning to live from gratitude and faith. Not entirely there yet, but am taking this advice for starting small so big beautiful things can come! Thanks for sharing your inspiration.

  11. Hi Sandra,
    I think generosity only has value if it is shared in a context of unconditional Giving. If one gives (whatever it may be) and expects to receive something in return (whatever it may be), that is not being generous and that is what blocks true generosity: the expecation of something in return because we might feel its only fair!
    I know sometimes it’s not that simple especially when it comes to the Emotions realm, as I have experienced it myself… nevertheless we must practice it if we wish to be free.
    Stay well and Happy!

    • Hi Tree Spirit,

      This is an excellent point! It’s hard to be fully unconditional, we’re still human, but I agree practice makes perfect. I’m really happy you added this point! Thank you.

  12. Hello Sandra!
    Only read your comment in response to mine tonight. I’m so glad you saw interest and value in my point. That’s makes me so happy 🙂
    You know something? I would love to meet one single person who manages to be FULLY (with all the capital letters) unconditional. I would ask him/her soooo many questions… would you not? 🙂

    On a different note: I must catch up with your recent posts as I haven’t visited here as often as I wished. I’ve starred them in my Inbox for later reading.

    Hope you’re having a beautiful September.
    Love & Light,

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