The Generosity of Easter

April 1, 2010 § 18 Comments

“Give so you have no regrets.” All year long,  I’ve been contemplating this statement, which I heard attributed to the Buddhist meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein.   Someone asked Goldstein how much they should give in “dana,”  which is the Pali word for “generosity.”  In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, there is basically no set fee for teachers or retreats.  Students and retreat participants are to give what they can in the spirit of “dana.”  Not surprisingly,  many students find this challenging (which is why they have had to impose a minimum).

“Give so you have no regrets,”  answered Goldstein.   Beautiful, right?  Don’t give so much you can’t pay your bills and cause yourself all kinds of suffering, including resentment.  Don’t give so little you suffer remorse later over what a cheapskate you are.   All year, I’ve considered what it can mean to give so you have no regrets, in money and life.

Now Easter is here, and once again I find myself thinking of the boundless love and generosity of Jesus Christ, giving himself as a sacrifice for the whole world.  What an utterly free act, no guarantees, every attachment relinquished in the moment of sacrifice.   This year,  however, I have a heightened awareness of the difference between that act of divine love and the way we must love, giving (and taking) so that we have no regrets.

Here’s how Richard Smoley puts the issue in  “Love and Money”  (from the current “Love” issue of Parabola: “What, then, is love? Here is one answer: love is that which unites self and other.  This is as simple and naked a characterization as I can imagine, but even so one refinement may be needed.  After all the lion loves the lamb so much that it wants to make the lamb one with itself.  Perhaps, then, we should add this modification:  Love is that which unites slef and other while maintaining the integrity of each.”

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§ 18 Responses to The Generosity of Easter

  • Scott Pitz says:

    Ahhh, Miss Tracy…much to comment on here.

    First, the Lion and the Lamb. This alone is packed. As you likely well know, the Lion and the Lamb are both symbols for Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Moreover, the Passover Lamb was a tradition in ancient Judaism. An unblemished lamb would be sent out into the wilderness to die, taking with it the sins of the village. For this reason, Jesus is known as the Paschal Lamb, the lamb of spring and of Passover. He died for our sins in an act of atonement, so that we could have everlasting life and a life of abundance, spiritual abundance, that is. Jesus is also known as the Lion of Judah which refers both to his power and alludes to the name of the tribe of Judah in Genesis. A lot in this little reference you made.

    Now, as far as the Love being something that unites one with the other…perhaps rather than uniting with integrity it could be said to unite with dignity. The Lion eats the Lamb so as to sustain life. He does not eat the Lamb while maintaining its integrity so much as he does it to sustain life in dignity for both the Lion and Lamb. Jesus, the Lamb died for us and we EAT him with dignity in the Eucharist, taking in his body and blood to remember his sacrifice for us. Also, we all have dignity because we are made in the image of God. We love each other because of this simple fact, we are all sons and daughters of God and for this reason, we are ALL deserving of dignity.

    More later,
    Scott

  • Beautiful thoughts from both of you!
    After reading one of the gospels for this week (Catholic Mass), I was struck with the timing of the Passion. Jesus was able to celebrate the Passover with his disciples, and then he became the sacrificial Lamb…for the”New Passover”, so to speak….thus we are all “saved”.
    Our God is a God who walks with us at all times. that is real love to me. He isn’t a “pie in the sky”, but a real God-Is-With-us “Emmanuel”l
    Every time I read scripture, it becomes more alive for me.
    I hope that someday I can have the same love that Paul had when he said, it is not me, but Jesus who lives in me.” (Paraphrasing).
    However, I am still “on the road” for another day….
    Home in time for Holy Saturday.
    Blessings.
    e

  • Donny Duke says:

    Tracy you are polite in your manner, even warm, and I’m sure that your friendly tone is not without sincerity, but it’s being used to brush me off. You are not showing here in your unwillingness to engage me the growth of human society in the growth of its friendship. It seems to me that the larger picture you’re looking at is not humanity as a whole or even as a nation, its need for growth in understanding relations within itself, its aims, its origins. Stating the obvious, you are more a representative of Parabola here, of its aims and opinions, than an individual pioneer opening a blog to further human knowledge of the sacred and the spiritual, than one seeking a common ground on which all the competing faiths can stand together and wonder at the miracle of it all.
    Of course it’s not out of line to represent your magazine, I’m addressing you as such, but in being such a sounding board for Parabola, there are things you seem to want to avoid. The questions I have raised in regards to open faith, the relatively shallow sounding of the depths of the inner reach by your magazine and in human media in general, and lastly your unwillingness to consider unsolicited poetry, you’ve simply not answered them and have quickly gone off into something else, made a fresh new post. Perhaps if you hadn’t a dialogue would have developed in the comments section that would be an eye opener.
    Speaking to the blogger, I would urge you Tracy to be that independent pioneer at least a little bit because you as a person foster a comfortable blog to talk about things usually quite difficult to lay out on the table, the question of our differences in matters of belief and faith. You seem to have the needed tolerance and the warmth. With things in the realm of communication happening so fast now days, I don’t think we yet appreciate the comments section of someone’s blog, nor even yet do we value for what it’s worth a blog itself. We are in such a hurry to move on to the next topic we don’t grasp the topic at hand.
    At the moment you are putting together the new issue, and it’s about death and the afterlife I believe. I have two poems I would like you to read. Although I could be wrong, I doubt that Parabola would publish them since they are quite iconoclastic in nature. But you do want to read them I’d imagine, as they are each a good example of the new form of poetry my style represents, Reconstruction Poetry or Classical Modern Poetry. It’s a soul and spiritual verse in the vernacular. It’s really nothing new, but I don’t think we’ve had many examples of it these days. Putting aside whether a poem of mine is a good poem or a bad one in terms of poetic quality, the good point is its point of view. It’s usually composed of a host of speakers and each one presents their perspective on things. The difficult thing for the reader to accept is that the speakers are real and are speaking from whatever plane of reality they are on, be that the here and now or in the afterlife or even in divinity. Reading the poem you will see that it’s pulling on you to accept that. The voices in the poem can be so very real.
    The first poem is called A Suicide Bomber’s Broken Arrow is Broken. The I of the poem, in this case the almost exclusive one, is a such a person. He is speaking from the heaven of Islam and narrating his journey from the time he blew himself up to the present moment of the poem. It is solely spoken from the afterlife. The poem climbs from hell to heaven. In that climb the speaker reveals why he decided to be a human torpedo and what in Islam today pushed him to be that. It touches on a very iconoclastic question in matters of religion: does a prophet get it all right, is the communication from the heavens recorded exactly as the heaven would have it spoken it? Does a prophet ever make mistakes? Suicide bombers, what went wrong?
    The second poem, A Conscious Rose, is about the afterlife. It parcels some of the journey through it. It bounces back and forth with the fundamentalist Christian view of the matter. In doing so it questions major tenants of the Christian faith. Hence, it is quite iconoclastic. But it is a good read.
    Now you can brush me off again kindly as you did last time, or you can provide me a way to send these two poems for your magazine to consider. Because they would be deemed controversial I’m not going to simply post them as a comment on your blog. I gave you the Romance poem to introduce you to my style of poetry. I don’t plan on posting more. And yes if you tell me outright that you decline to review my poetry for publication, I will politely take the hint and just drop the matter. I might still read you blog though from time to time, and if I saw a copy of Parabola somewhere, be that on a newsstand or as a link on some web page, I would probably pick it up and read it or click on the link to check it out. You do good work.

  • Scott Pitz says:

    Donny,

    I have to say that this blog is a blog for all of us to share ideas in a friendly environment. I would hope you could share in that environment with all of us. Tracy commented earlier that she is busy getting out a new publication so out of necessity her thoughts were shorter and she clearly has less time to respond.

    I enjoyed your poem but simply did not have the time to read all of it or to fully comprehend it. It’s obvious that you want to be heard but your stridency frankly is a little frightening. You may want to try a gentler tone, my friend.

    Peace,
    Scott

    • tracycochran says:

      Thanks, Scott. I had an extraordinarily vivid memory yesterday of being a child on the afternoon of Good Friday. I was lying in the grass in the backyard, looking up at the blue sky, probably thrilled that it was spring after a long winter. Of all things, I was singing a song about “Thumbalina,” the Hans Christian Anderson story about a teeny tiny tinkerbelle-like character. Then my mother called me into the house because it was time to be solemn. I marveled that there were certain hours to think about the ordeal of Christ dying on the cross. I remember not knowing how to be with it…nor the next day, a day of waiting. Then Easter came, and I got an Easter basket and got dressed up, including white gloves and a hat. But those hours of silence on Good Friday left a lingering impression….

      • Scott Pitz says:

        Tracy, you have a wonderful memory of events from your childhood…I wish my brain was wired like yours sometime. I had never been to an Good Friday vigil service until a few years ago and I sat there for the three hours as the local clergy went through the seven last words of Christ. The church was wrapped in black and a wonderful soloist sang one of the most affective songs I have ever heard.

        This one event made me realize that Easter is nothing without Good Friday, or as many Christian theologians have said, “It is all about the Cross.”

        Was it an angel or Tinder Bell?

        Shalom and Happy Easter to all,
        Scott

      • tracycochran says:

        I misspelled Thumbelina, who was a benevolent little sprite, I think. The impression was of being full of thought and emptied, stilled, shrouded, like a church on Good Friday. Easter is nothing without that.

        Happy Easter to all!

        Tracy

  • Scott Pitz says:

    Donny,

    I might add that the shorter your entries, that higher the probability that busy readers will be able to get through all of it.

    Peace,
    Scott

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Wow, there is certainly a lot to take in here on a Good Friday. I’ll just offer this simple response and let you read it if you wish, or not.

    http://ronstarbuck-poet.blogspot.com/2009/06/on-third-morning-john-20-1-18-luke-241.html

    Have a great Easter weekend.

    I do like ….

    “love is that which unites self and other”

    It sounds a bit like Paul Tillich or Martin Buber, even Julian of Norwich.

    Love,

    Ron Starbuck

    • Scott Pitz says:

      Ron,

      I enjoyed your something about being an Episcopalian. I share that with you.

      May the grace of our Lord Jesus rain down upon you on this day when we remember his death and wait in grief, like his followers, for what is to come!

      Shalom,
      Scott

  • Donny Duke says:

    Scott up until the frightening part I heard you. By your phrasing things so you make it sound as though I might be a threat to you. I wish you no harm. I have some business here to try and get some poems published, and, like you, introduce ideas into a blog discussion from my own personal spiritual experience. I haven’t broken any rules only bent those unspoken ones about the length your comment should be on someone’s blog, about not taking advantage of the blog in order to promote your art and your own ideas in its comment spaces, and so forth. Don’t worry this is only a short interruption. Interruptions are not always a bad thing if they are neither vulgar nor foul. Now I’m only waiting for Tracy’s response to the suggestion of reading a couple of my poems. I should say this is probably my last word on the matter too, as the response will most likely be negative.

    • tracycochran says:

      Peace, friend:

      I meant no offense in posting a new blog entry. I wished to experiment in writing shorter and more frequent posts, since we are frantically getting the new issue ready to be uploaded this week. I do wish for this to be a warm and safe place of exchange of ideas, and I also want Parabola to be good and deep and useful to readers as possible. You are most welcome to submit material of all kinds to Parabola for consideration. The deadline for “Desire” is mid May, and submissions should be sent to the editor offices. This is not the place to send poetry submissions for the magazine. Warmly, Tracy

  • artxulan says:

    Love, for me, is something much easier to talk about than to understand. Years ago a long term relationship with another person ended for me. I had thought if I ‘loved’ enough it would solve all problems. When the relationship ended It also shattered my belief that I knew what Love was. I engaged in readings and experiments to try and understand. In time I came to the definite understanding that ‘being in love’ is not love at all but rather an emotional addition.

    I still did not know what Love was. Then my sister’s German Shepard named Ginger began to accompany me when I was at the farm. And suddenly I realized she did so because she Loved me. I was shocked to discover that I was being taught about Love by a dog.

    I began to question how ‘to have love’ or ‘be loving’. I discovered that one cannot ‘have Love’. It cannot be possessed nor ‘given’ to another person.

    It seems to be something which comes from the higher worlds and which at times bathes us. And under its influence my actions are loving toward others. But how to be open to its’ influence more?

    Although I feel that love cannot be given I do believe we can be ‘caring’ and attentive toward others. We can see them as they are and suffer that they suffer or lack what they need. We can also take practical actions on the behalf of others that are intended to help. This comes with a great responsibility. My manifestations towards others affect them and I do not always know what the affect will be. Only when I am present to them (even silently), as best I can be, and of myself at the same time can I be certain that the affect will be beneficial both for me and them.

    • tracycochran says:

      Do you think we can experience the Love of a person who has passed away?

      • artxulan says:

        Yes. There are moments when I feel that I have been given something by someone who is no longer alive on Earth. I am certain they are not disconnected from us.

        What is your experience?

      • tracycochran says:

        Sometimes I feel as if I have been provided for in advance, as if I am coming into a kind of legacy of love that was left for me in anticipation of my coming…sometimes I feel as if someone is with me right here and right now. Sometimes both!

  • Ron Starbuck says:

    Hmm. I just posted something, I hope it got through.

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