22 September 2011

Precept VIII

I'm still kicking around the question that came up for me the other week as to whether I serve enough.  The answer is still the same as before – "Not by a long shot.  Not even close." – but I'm finding more and more to chew on in the vast space between the question and the answer.

I'm not thinking about finding more and more activities to fill in the gap, because I'm not sure that's what "serving" is about.  That isn't to say that I'm not considering adding some volunteering to my weekly calendar; the weather's only going to get colder, and there are warming and overnight shelters that are going to need some extra hands in the months ahead.  It's just that busying myself more and more doesn't necessarily mean serving more and more.

I'm seeing that it's more about my – what's the word here? – attitude or approach to the serving that's most important, and I can't but think of Bodhidharma's formulation of the Eighth Precept:  "Self-nature is subtle and mysterious.  In the genuine, all-pervading Dharma, not being stingy about a single thing is called the Precept of Not Sparing the Dharma Assets."

Not being stingy about anything.  Not being the least reluctant to just throw myself and my stuff and my time in.  Not weighing and measuring and calculating cost-to-benefit ratios.   Not being stingy at all in everything from wiping up a coffee spill without holding back to spending time with someone who needs a sympathetic ear without looking at my watch.  (I don't even know that there's room for upāya considerations here, since we're talking overflowing, not calibrating!) 

I'm aiming at this from the other side of the equation Christians have in the Gospels: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Lk 6:38)  I've already been given more than I could ever possibly have merited.  I want for nothing, and there's plenty to share.

Time to remember that and to start pouring and pouring – and pouring and pouring – into others' laps and into every situation that comes up.  I don't have to worry about running out, that's for sure!

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