I was having a conversation with a friend who expressed how grateful he was to this mutual friend we have; how she had thrown a life line to him when he was at his downiest, and thereby felt he owed it to her, leading him to do something that did not resonate with his heart upon her offer. Of course, at that point when he agreed, he wasn’t fully aware that what was offered to him did not resonate until much later. All he thought at that moment when she called was that it was a chance for him to ‘repay’ her kindness. And yet, that guilt ‘tortured’ him within the doldrums of his mind, of whether he ought to proceed to do what was offered to him, or not; when he did not feel inspired. I know how that feels, I have been there.
The thing is this. Our lessons or entitlement are always unfolded through stories, and we need casts and a plot to open us up for our learning. Many a times, after we ‘survived’ our most crucial moments, we are left with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation towards a person, or some persons if you will for uplifting us; and it’d be so because of that, in times of their needs or requests, we’d feel compelled to accommodate them, even when it is very much, not what our hearts say so. But why do we do it? “Oh, she has helped me so much, I need to repay her”; “oh, I am so grateful for without her support then, I wouldn’t have made it”… whilst these stand true in one way or another, let’s look at the real mechanics of it.
Many a times, we are caught by having to listen to, or comply with others’ request because we feel that it would redeem ourselves of receiving from those of whom we are grateful to. We fail to see that whatever we receive is our own privilege and seriously, if what is given is not received, what is the point then of an exchange?
It is the same as giving someone a gift; if I was giving a gift because I wanted the person to say thank you to me, I am so relying on another to give me an appreciation, which can only be translated to as a form of self betrayal. And if I am receiving, thinking that I have to give back fifty, so to make it worth the while of what I have received, then what is the point of having?
I remember sending a gratitude message to my teacher last year and asked if I could do anything to complete the cycle of ‘giving and receiving’. I was so grateful to his teachings, you see. My wise teacher replied,
There is no reason to reciprocate as what you receive is your entitlement. And even if you are the receiver and yet you get nothing out from it, what is the point of having? Thus what you receive and understood is all your doing. You can give out of gratefulness but not because you want to complete the cycle of your receiving. Rejoicing is already giving. Expressing thanks is also giving.
And I would add to this, give out of gratefulness, to which resonates with our heart – at our own pace, at our own will – not by overextending ourselves.
Let’s give thanks for the experience instead, and recognize that whatever we receive is because we are willing to be given to, and that no repayment is required. If the need to reciprocate arises then let it be from the space of love, of inner authority, so true to our own space that not even a word of ‘thank you’ is required.
It is because we keep focusing on the form, on the body or rather the person out there, failing to see what is true in our own space that time and time again, we are off balance of our own footing. But can we now begin to see that, being balanced on our own footing and staying true to ourselves is really the best gift we can give to anyone at all! For when we tell others that we are willing to honor ourselves, we are too telling others they are free from us – that there is no need to live for us, whether in a minute way or not. The bondage then becomes released.
Having said that, I am not meaning to say that we don’t appreciate the people who present these gifts to us, whether it is in a form of a teaching, an experience, a helping hand, a gift and etc. All I am saying is – really, a simple ‘thank you’ will do, and to fully appreciate and honor another, is to fully appreciate and honor ourselves. There is no way around it, and it cannot be otherwise. If the person doesn’t see it yet, it is only because the person has not realized it, and it is ok too, because we are no longer seeking approval or love from anyone else, or having to give anyone else anything that we are not inspired to! We are already Love, and are already approving of ourselves; what greater gifts could you give to another, except that?