The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign that we are holding on to something - usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy; we hold on tight.
Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering whatever we can - a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement - we are training in letting go.
There are so many ways to practice generosity. The main point isn't so much what we give, but that we unlock our habit of clinging. A traditional practice is simply to offer an object that we cherish from one hand to the other.
A woman I know decided that whatever she was attached to she'd give away. One many gave money to people begging in the streets every day for six months after the death of his father. It was his way of working with grief. Another woman trained in visualizing giving away whatever she most feared losing.
Giving practice shows us where we're holding back, where we're still clinging. We start with our well-laid plans, but life blows them apart. From a gesture of generosity, true letting go will evolve. Our conventional perspective will begin to change.
The causes of aggression and fear begin to dissolve by themselves when we move past the poverty of holding back and holding on.
The journey of generosity is one of connecting with the wealth of bodhichitta so profoundly that we are willing to begin to give away whatever blocks it. We open ourselves and let ourselves be touched. We build confidence in all-pervasive richness. At the everyday level, we experience it as flexibility and warmth.
- Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron