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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Guidelines On The Value Of Giving

Posted by patrick

By Masami Sato

A new development is revolutionizing many lives in the hamlets of India by bringing brightness where there used to be blackness.

The New York Times published an article titled, "Husk Power for India". Electricity, which is prevalent in the lives of many in developed nations, is a pure luxury in remote areas of developing ones. What was once fed to animals now is used to generate electricity - rice husks.

Being brought up in the pastoral Bihar State, Manoj Sinha knew what it was like to be without light at night. Being an engineer with Intel Corporation he had all the competence to bring a life long idea to fruition. He led the creation of his power generation equipment from rice husks and other wastes from farms and now he sells power to rural areas across India.

Sinha is what could be called a social entrepreneur because he feels business is a solution to key social issues. "Business leaders must realise that the world's poor need investments more than handouts," he says, adding, "these are customers, not victims."

The article motivated me to think about offering things in a different way that made me ask myself, "what is the most perfect form of giving?" Is it edification, commerce or disaster aid? There are so many ways to create a difference. One way of giving can seem more productive or practical than other ways depending on the way it is given expression, viewed or put into practice.

I then came to identify there were eight sections to giving as a form to perceive this. So, let me outline the eight methods; which in effect are often 'phases' of giving as well.

Stage one: Necessity - saving and helping others who are afflicted by natural catastrophe, contagious diseases or other unmanageable conditions.

Phase two: Respite - providing respite from enduring need, poverty, ill-health, disadvantages or prejudice which otherwise would continue or deteriorate because of the lack of awareness, training or resources.

Phase three: Curing and defending - morally, bodily and spiritually. Many people carry scars that may be invisible but strongly constricting their lives. Giving the cure to release the long-standing suffering creates more chances for them while giving necessary defense gives them a feeling of security.

Phase four: Edification - giving better edification, awareness and skill imparting to create empowered and innovative solutions to generating resources while helping people to discover their exclusive talent to succeed.

Stage five: Inspired investment - giving a help, capital or resources to those who have great talent to alter the situation. This gets used many times as the resources become more and passed on to other people who again produce more out of the prospects given.

Stage six: Tenability - working together with the people in the local surroundings, creating tenable groups - ambience-wise and reciprocally.

Phase seven: Empowerment - enabling and motivating the people to release their true ability and power to make a change. In this group of sharing, the aim of giving changes from 'giving to the people who want' to 'giving people a chance to give to others' and to the society.

Phase eight: Caring - just doing whatever we want to do to cherish and care for others. No tactic or expected result exists in this phase of giving. 'Giving' does not even exist here in the conventional sense of the word, as there is no sense of ownership or reasoning or yearning to alter anything. This is where we do not even have to worry about anything, we give as a part of our own delightful sense of being.

What we also find is that at each of these eight stages of giving there are different things that the giver receives.

One: Sense of relationship

Two: Sense of wellbeing

Three: reprieve from ache (our own)

Four: Thankfulness for our own ideas, gifts and conditions

Five: Long-term sense of involvement and fulfillment for our own life

Six: Better ambience for our own life and for the lives of others we treasure and revere

Seven: Soul fulfilling inspiration and dedication to our own purpose

Eight: Love

Sharing has many stages and sensations based upon the donor and getter. And the 'phases' do not detail which one is of more importance than the other. All are mandatory.

I was fortunate to have an experience early in 2008 while travelling with a group of dedicated businessmen through India to see how we could be more useful in our giving. I was blessed to have one exceptional happening that made me think about what 'effectual giving' actually meant.

We were in a little town one day. Four of us had just booked a taxi to take us to another town nearby. We negotiated with the driver carefully as our hotel staff had warned us in advance about the rip-off we might experience seeing we were not local.

We stopped in front of the local train station for a short break on the way. While the others disappeared off to use the bathroom, I started a conversation with our taxi driver standing next to the taxi. With very limited English and a full smile exposing his blackened front teeth, he told me that he had a house on the outskirts of the town and he had a young wife and two children who went to the local school - I started to feel connected to him.

I patted him on the back for having an affectionate family and told him that I also had two kids of the same age as his. When the others came back the driver instantly asked us to come to his house for food. I thought it was just a formality he wanted to convey at first. However, after leaving us at the centre of the town, he was particular that he would wait for us till we were done with our traveling around the town. And he actually did. I was in fact quite taken aback to see him still standing by the side of the road next to his taxi even after an hour. We hopped back into the taxi and he whizzed off up the road to where his home was.

When we reached there we were really quite taken aback to see how he was living. It was more or less similar (if not worse) to the standard of people dwelling in slums we had visited before. From the gleaming new taxi he was driving, who could have thought this

As he drove into the narrow unsealed street between small houses that were made with roughcast concrete blocks and mud painted walls, we almost regretted about saying yes to his invite. For a brief moment I felt pangs of guilt. "How could I go to this man's home who didn't seem to have anything and I didn't even bring any food or gifts for his family", I thought.

As we walked into his house, we saw a pan and small stove on the mud floor. His very shy wife nodded blushing in surprise and disappeared into the small storeroom (a cupboard size) next to it. As I looked in, I saw the next-door neighbours handing over some teacups to his wife over the crumbled concrete fence. They didn't even have extra teacups in their house. There was only one small room fitted out with one single bed and an old galvanised chest next to it.

The cab driver swiftly took out three hand-woven rugs from the galvanised box and placed it neatly on the small space of the mud floor keeping one on the bed.

Steaming cups of tea and hot snacks arrived soon. Both his kids as well as kids from the neighbouring houses came to see us and remained at the doorway. The six of us could just squeeze into the tiny room. I was curious to know where his children were sleeping. I thought maybe they had another space somewhere. To my astonishment, he just pointed at the chest and said with his happy smile that it was their bed.

He gleefully told us that he was a dancing champion in town and pointed to some trophies on the shelf above the bed. Keen to show us his dancing skills he suddenly dashed outside. From nowhere music filled the tiny room. He didn't have any music system in the house, it was coming from outside. I was curious so I stood up to see him reversing his taxi right against the back wall of his house with the doors wide open with car radio on full volume!

The time quickly passed (dancing together and having more cups of tea) and it was finally time to say thank you for their great hospitality and head on our way. As we stood up to leave and thank him and his wife, he reached to the best looking rug on the bed, rolled it up and handed it to us. It was one of the only few things he had. I could not believe he offered it to us.

We all courteously begged off his gift and moved out waving goodbye to all the people waving back at us. We got real baffled about the whole affair. Should we have paid them something as they surely had only too little money? Should we have consented to take the cherished gift he made us?

As I was thinking about this awe-inspiring experience after a few days, I considered our begging off his gift. He looked crest-fallen that we didn't accept the gift. It wasn't only the rejecting of the gift that remained in my mind.

I realised that the sense of discomfort I felt was actually coming from perceiving him as less fortunate. I was thinking that I couldn't possibly take anything from someone who had so little.

But did he actually have modest means? Maybe he had other things - a lot more.

Maybe the real present we could have given him then was to receive his present in utmost deference and thankfulness.

Every act of sharing and taking are indispensable for us to fill our world with profusion and satisfaction in equal measure for both sharer and taker. We can start doing this instead of evaluating and validating one over another. The beautiful act of sharing and taking requires no additional elucidation.

Manoj Sinha's words echo in my mind once again, "these are customers, not victims." I can imagine the smiling faces of the villagers who are now proud to have electricity in their villages and the children who now can read books and learn in their homes at night.

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