The only possession that monks are allowed to have is their alms or what people call “begging bowls” which every day they’d use to go outside to the near village and collect donations. As part of their advanced spiritual training, they can only live off of the support of the communities, off of what they’ve collected in their bowls during the day. This is an advanced spiritual lesson because as lightworkers we all know how to give unconditionally, to be generous, charitable and compassionate – but what about receiving? Receiving is a lot tougher than giving – it demands a lot more spiritually than to give. Receiving requires humility and trust.
I wonder –
how many of us have this kind of trust in the universe; that life will find its way to channel through the right people on our path who will support us; to completely surrender and renounce the material and accept the interdependence of humanity; to accept that we will still survive even without our “control”.
And if we ever thought that we’d overcome our ego, get that bowl and go outside – because that’s the moment when we’ll realize we didn’t overcome it at all – that we are very much attached to it.
During the alms, the monks do not engage in eye contact and conversation because this is about learning that giving and receiving should be done unconditionally – without expectation. It is about learning that “the exchange” is equal in intention and vibration.
The lesson of receiving is in the growth of the spiritual attribute of humanity as we transcend the ego and self image, and bring into direct awareness the mutual interdependence of human beings.
One of our biggest struggles as human beings is the fear of being perceived as “poor” – this is a fear deep within us but once externalized it becomes visible. It becomes visible when we need the support of others. It becomes visible that as much as we get brainwashed about independence – we are in fact, all interdependent. We get to experience ourselves outside of ego and self-image – and confront our own perception of who we are and what we value.
For energy to flow freely and harmoniously there needs to be an equal exchange. What is equal? It does not have to be in the same shape or form – it is energetic. Equal energtic exchange is when the intention of the giver and receiver are balanced. And receiving is not taking.
In the old days, when you’d enter a church or spiritual temple of any kind, you’d leave some donation at the front door – because energetically you are being given something as well: an exchange of spiritual support and blessing.
Things are not so black and white though. Nowadays we live in a consumerist society where most people just take and take, and when they do give, even if just a compliment, it carries an expectation. Many of us have had open palms throughout our life, but those that “gave” us something had expectations assigned to it – and so in time, justifyingly, we just closed off. Because the truth is – nowadays – most people just don’t know how to give unconditionally … and sooner or later, even the most generous of us will close off.
In the days of follow/unfollow social media culture and treating humans like generic bottles in a supermarkets, swiping their faces on apps – how much is a human worth? How do we value time and energy? How are we being grateful and giving back to those who’ve given us more than money? We will not sustain humanity if we continue to take, disregard and burden even our “good deeds” with impure intentions and expectations. Eventually things will fall. And those who did have the kind energies giving of themselves to others – will eventually close off because they’ve been burned too many times.
How is that important for our relationships?
Relationships that are healthy thrive on interdependence. It is important for us to realize that we need others just as much as they need us – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. No, it doesn’t make us needy, it doesn’t make us incapable, it doesn’t make us weak. It is what life is all about – as human beings we are interdependent on others as well as even nature. We need people to support us just as much as we support them – just as much as we are there for them, so we too deserve to have others here for us. This requires trust and vulnerability. This also requires that we ourselves understand that relationships are not a one way street – that we too need to be provided for and taken care of. And for the generous souls out there – it is remembering that “helping doesn’t mean taking crap”. If someone mistreats you – you need to walk away – because this is not what a healthy loving bond looks like. Love doesn’t hurt. It is just people that are hurtful because they just don’t know how to give love – they don’t know how to love – but it is not your job to teach them that or “fix” them.
Another important thing to remember is that givers must be in relationships with givers; this is because givers must learn to receive and being with takers will ultimately be abusive for them.
If we want to sustain a long-term relationship or a marriage, we need to accept that there would be interdependence. Obviously, codependence is not interdependence. Allowing another to care for us when we need is not weak – allowing ourselves to receive is not weak – we are in it together – we are in this third entity called a relationship and we care for it and us together.
Humility and vulnerability are strengths understood only by those devoted to their spiritual paths. It is understanding that beyond our physical self there is no place for the ego beliefs.
It is understanding that the bowl and the hands that give are both empty at the end of the day – but we are still whole and strong as ever before.
Making money or filling the bowl is not the point of the monks’ alms. It is to see that we are all dependent on the same Emptiness. This spiritual act of receiving reminds us where the true treasures are; that the bowl and the hand filling it are both empty; that walking silent gratitude notices the fillings of the heart.
Holding our palms open to others does not mean we are dependent upon society or incomplete within ourselves, neither does it mean we are asking for something that we haven’t earned. It teaches us harmony and exchange of energy – because giving and receiving are always measured by the intention of our hearts – and that we too need support. It shows us that as givers, we need just as much support so that energy continues to flow. And it is also a way for all of us to connect more deeply. Do not suffice for anything less than that. Do not suffice for bread crumps or ingenuine “giving” burdened with expectations. Loving and giving must be unconditional. Do not allow yourself to be mistreated or taken advantage of. As creators and writers, we do a lot of free work. As natural healers and generous souls – we always give to others – whether time, kindness or a shoulder to cry on. Remind yourself – that you too should be supported and taken care of by others – and if you are not, you need to walk away for a chance to build something healthier and long-standing with someone as kind and generous as you.
Have trust in yourself and in life; that life will find a way to channel through the right people who will support you on your path.
Much Love & Peace,
Cover Photo by me.
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