Generosity practices

 

We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness, and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain - although what we gain should not particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens naturally, automatically. -Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Host a book drive

While not everyone has a lot of money to give to local charities these days we all tend to have old books sitting on our shelves collecting dust. These are treasures long forgotten and not likely to be read again. Why not offer them to someone who will make good use of them? Why not donate them to a local school or library?

If you have children this is a great way to inspire their own generosity by asking them if they would like to give any books away to a local elementary school or children's hospital.

For added generosity why not organize a book drive at your local Shambhala Centre? Just place a large cardboard box somewhere visible in your community room or post-meditation hall and include a sign indicating what the box is for and where the books will be going. For added effect include the news of your book drive in any newsletters or e-mail announcements that go out from your centre.

Here are some good organizations to give your books to:

www.booksfirst.org

www.pageahead.org

www.bookends.org

www.booksforamerica.org

If you want your books to go to a local cause, search your area for a literacy organization near you!

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Host sangha members visiting from out of town

Often when a visiting Tibetan teacher or acharya comes to town sangha members are inspired to travel to your local centre to hear them teach. Why  not offer your spare bedroom, couch, inflatable bed, or floor to these individuals to save them the cost of staying in a hotel?

You can include a page on your Shambhala Centre's website that makes it known that certain sangha members in your community would be happy to host people visiting from out of town for a Shambhala Training Level or a late night talk. Let your Centre Director or Coordinator know if you would like to offer your home in this way and talk to friends who might follow suit.

By offering your home not only are you saving someone who would already come money but you might be inspiring people who were on the fence to make the trip and experience the dharma. Often it's newer students who do not already know of sangha members they can stay with who might be unsure as to whether or not it makes sense for them to come to your local centre. Consider opening your doors to the greater sangha; you may find it's like hosting your own family.

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Art exchange

This generosity practice came to us from sangha member Jim Katz in Boston. Thanks Jim!

This practice is along the lines of the book exchange from last month. We all have many beautiful pieces that might not have a lot of intrinsic value, and that we have grown so accustomed to seeing around the house that we don't see them anymore.

You can host an art exchange either at your home or at your Shambhala Centre where you encourage sangha members to bring in these art pieces. Each item is put on display and is offered for long-term loan or as a general offering to an interested sangha member who also brought something in. We can borrow and lend each other our objects of art.

As an act of brave generosity, people could bring their own work that may or may not be gallery ready and show it, with the possibility of others seeing it in a new home.

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Holiday gifts

Like other non-profits, many Shambhala Centres and Groups are suffering as a result of the economic crisis. This holiday season consider asking friends and family to put money normally spent on birthday, wedding, or holiday gifts towards a Shambhala entity or charity of your choice. Both you and your friend/family member share in the good merit of accumulating less stuff and contributing more towards uplifting your local community.

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Carpool board

For many of us, it's hard to get to the cushion. It's even harder to get to the cushion when your Shambhala Centre is a thirty minute drive away! In order to encourage more participation at your centre consider posting a carpool board in your lobby or community room where people can offer or ask for rides to the centre for classes and major events. Not only does carpooling save money and our natural resources it is a great opportunity to get to know fellow sangha members.

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Join Team Shambhala on Kiva

There are ways to be generous to those in need through making loans as opposed to an outright gift. For example, Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Shambhala has recently developed a giving team on Kiva which can be found by clicking here.

When you join Shambhala's team on Kiva you are empowered to make a loan of your own money to people embarking on business ventures overseas. Your gift supports them in growing their business and is paid back over time. You can also see which other projects Shambhalians are supporting and make a contribution if you are so moved. Through Team Shambhala on Kiva we can support one another in our giving.

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Donate used clothes or household items

While not all of us have money to donate to worthwhile organizations there are many that will put old clothes or household items to good use. Career Gear, for example, will accept your professional men's clothing, shoes, accessories and products that are appropriate for a job interview and give them to men seeking employment. Operation Give is another charity that collects items for distribution to families in war-town areas.

Even if you don't think you have clothes or goods to donate check out Recycle for Breast Cancer. This organization will take everything from furniture to old ink cartridges and provide you with free prepaid shipping labels, envelopes, collection boxes or send a truck for your donated items. If you feel a connection with any of these charities or have one that strikes close to home for you consider organizing a collection drive at your local Shambhala Centre. Everyone has something to give and there are many charities looking to facilitate your generosity.

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We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness, and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain - although what we gain should not particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens naturally, automatically. -Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 

Click here for more teachings on generosity

 

Click here for information on giving to Shambhala

 

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