The Diamond Sutra, one of the prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom) sutras of Mahayana Buddhism, has the Buddha say this concerning the giving of gifts, an insight which can be quite helpful this time of year:
...when bodhisattvas give a gift, they should not be attached to a thing. When they give a gift, they should not be attached to anything at all.
Here is what I wrote concerning this idea in a commentary for my college course in Buddhist Philosophy:
We give gifts for many reasons. Sometimes we give gifts out of love for a person. Sometimes we give gifts because we wish to be seen giving gifts. Often we give gifts because it is socially acceptable, or somehow required of us. But, whatever our motive, we often have expectations for the person who receives our gift. If and when they fail to meet our expectations for them, we manufacture suffering, both in ourselves and in others. Therefore, when we give a gift (as in all situations) we should not be attached to anything, but simply give our gift, for the sake of giving our gift.
I had hoped to write more about giving without attachment, but I got distracted by an excellent comment by Crystal on my last post, so I fritted my writing time this morning away on my response to her. I suppose that was my act of giving without attachment.
May your gifts this season sow only good in both the giver and the receiver. Give mindfully, and without attachment.
Merry Christmas, and make merry this Christmas.
Happy Holidays, being holy on these sacred days.
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