A Can of Beans

March 1, 2017

Generous is a word that is almost big enough to describe reality. After all, what could be more generous than this that allows everything to be everything? The hypothetical start of things — the Big Bang — that primal flaring forth was nothing if not Pure Generosity, no holding back — Here! A universe for you!


The nature of our sun is the same: its light given freely year after year, for billions of them! We live by the generosity of its light. Every glass of milk, every apple, every cup of coffee is given by its light, and we appear by the grace of that giving.

And what of this ever-unfurling spontaneous moment, how might we describe it but Purely Generous? Or this awareness that is the root of our being? We take our awareness for granted, we take the spontaneity of this moment for granted, and indeed they are just that: granted, given without our needing to ask.

This Vast Generosity we live within is free, unselfish, generative, unconditional — blessing us and everything with becoming. Its generosity is love itself. So if we need some guidance about how to live, this might be a good place to start — to contemplate the Ocean of Generosity we live in, and how every moment it makes its offering. There’s no need to go out of our way to do this — every given breath reminds us!

You might say this view of an Ultimate Generosity as a guide for living is overly simple, and it is. There is more to the story —

The Pure Generosity of transparent light is met by opaque matter. Light goes every which way yet doesn’t bump into itself. But matter, that other form of light, offers resistance. It absorbs and reflects. It waits in a form, and when it can sustain that form no longer it shape-shifts into another form. In each form it seeks to remain as long as possible. So now we have, in the midst of Universal Generosity: boundaries, self-definition, self-maintenance — that which does not to give itself away like sunlight, but seeks instead to maintain itself as itself.

Our lives are balanced right there — part of the Great Give-Away and yet charged to be these unique forms, for a time. Now the question of generosity as an ethic to live by has more depth. If you continually give away all the food on your plate, you’ll starve. If you never give, you’ll wither alone. How then shall we keep our balance between generosity and self-interest?