My take on The Perfection of Giving
From what I understand there are 10 qualities under the Buddhist concept of 'Perfection' and ‘giving’ is one of them. The Perfection of Giving is the act of generosity without expectation. You give for the sake of giving. You see a need, so you help and you don’t get anything back. However, the irony of the Perfection of Giving is that you do get something back, but not if you are expecting it. What you get is happy. That’s right, just when you thought happiness was unobtainable in the modern world through means such as wealth, sex, success, relationships or owning the latest piece of tech, along comes an ancient idea. I’ve been to Nepal twice with Hector Marcel and 108 lives. Our first trip in 2012 was a small group who set about reconnecting with many of the street people Hector had first met in 2008. We also spent time making new connections with local agencies and preparing for the larger volunteer projects in the years ahead.
Like everyone I have my challenges and my responsibilities in life. I was apprehensive about making the trip, feeling that my absence would mean others back home would have to cover my work and family responsibilities but also I had no idea about what I would be doing. Once I was there however, it was the idea of the Perfection of Giving that helped me park concerns about my own life and it gave me access to the unexpected. I went about doing work for people that needed my help. It was difficult at times. I’m not a social worker, I’m not a professional aid expert. I’m just a person who wanted to help and that sometimes meant turning off helping in ways I was good at and breaking through my own sense of what I could do. Looking and listening to what people really needed and doing things without judgment of others or myself.
I met people in desperate situations and sometimes there was little I could do to help them. I saw children being used as begging props, I saw teens addicted to glue sniffing and alcohol, I saw women and children with acid burns, the victims of domestic and political violence. At times I had to look beyond failing to help some people and keep a focus on the bigger plans. I saw one women at a temple who had terrible burns and when our eyes connected I was deeply moved by her despair. All I could do was give her some food. I had no other means in that moment to help her further, though with all my heart I wanted to do more.
In our short time in Kathmandu on that first visit we met with many people living in the streets. We discovered Mount Summit School and have since helped countless students. We connected with the Quilts for Kids program and the Boudhanath tent community, we found the Rokpa group and have provided many meals and medical clinics through them. We visited Sano-Sansara orphanage and have made a difference to many children’s lives. I know that what we have done collectively has helped many people avoid some of the terrible fates I’ve witnessed.
I’m not telling you this so you’ll think I’m a good person. I’m not asking you to like me or think I’m in anyway way special. I just want to share my experience because giving without expectation first and foremost helped people, but as a side effect those actions made me happy. Focusing on the needs of others evaporated the daily concerns that previously filled my life. This was further consolidated on my second trip where I became deeply aware and incredibly grateful for what I have available to me in my life. Returning home and incorporating a shift in mindset has had its challenges but I can honestly say that while I have the odd moment of frustration I never lose sight of the joy giving brought to my life.
I’m truly grateful to Hector Marcel for creating the opportunity for me, which in itself was a perfection of giving. The wonderful thing about 'Perfections' is that they are perfectly simple and easy to enact. All you have to do is show up, silence that doubting voice and help.