Sorry to upload so much at once but i rarely get a chance to access the internet and wanted to share some more thoughts specifically about my process with working with generosity and the paramis in general..
One of the the things that immediately strikes me about the paramis is how interelated they are and how they relate to other wholesome mental qualities. In particular I have been finding that considering generosity I keep encountering the need for an accompanying sense of gratitude that seems to complete and facilitate generosity.
I struggle a bit with assessing exactly where I am at in regards to generosity as a parami. I think I am a fairly generous person. I have always loved giving and serving other people and genuinely delight in being there for others and helping them through difficult (and good) times. Im usually very ready, willing and able to offer my time and support and what material resources I have to help others. The problem I have is that if I look more deeply into the conditions surrounding my generosity a few red flags keep popping up that make me question the authenticity or purity of my willingness to give. I am often aware of a need to be seen to be generous, kind, helpful. I think I have incorporated the ideal of generosity and kindness into my personality structure and so am not sure how much of my generosity is prompted from a wholesome base and how much from an unwholesome base or from my personality as opposed to my character. In other words I am finding that there is a more subtly pervasive presence of self inherent in my giving than I had previously realised. This becomes particularly apparent when I feel like I have given a lot and seemingly freely and joyfully at the time, and the experience has lightened and opened my heart, but then subsequently I find myself feeling let down and taken for granted and angry when that generosity doesnt seem to be reciprocated or recognised or acknowledged. This can even result in recourse to recounting in detail what I have given and how generous I have been. This doesnt seem like the sign of quiet selfless giving without expectation of reward that we are looking to cultivate does it?, and yet at the time of the giving it did. It seems to me that there are a lot of mixed states underlying my motivation to act and to serve. Therefore whilst I totally see the value in and welcome the practice of generosity as an actively or consciously engaged outer behaviour I am at the same time reminded by my reflections on my motivation that purifying the base from which such behaviour arises through the practice of insight is ultimately necessary in order to reach a place where generosity becomes a natural spontaneous part of our character, untainted by our sense of self with all its “needs”and its tendency to hijack the show. At present I wonder whether a large part of my generosity is actually part of my personality and not part of my character. Can it really be considered a true parami if it is part of a personality pantomime? Is it real generosity if it is performed out of ego? My feeling is that uncontrived, natural generosity as a quality of character,whatever our personality looks like, is the real parami. However I recognise that we need to work with these qualities and their expression as they are in us now, to work with the more relative and mixed motivations and use the practice of giving as a means/opportunity to reflect and see more deeply into what it is that is really motivating our actions. I am excited to be starting to really look at how we apply our meditation to living reality in the world amongst all the messiness of relationships and personalities, and how the worldly life , far from being a distraction or hindrance to meditation and spiritual growth can be a rich field for deepening into insight, perhaps in some respects more so than in a monastery. So thank you Burgs, I think this will prove to be very useful course for me. I do still often get a strong urge to take up the monastic life though!?