Saturday, February 21, 2009

Etsy, Blogging And Acts of Generosity

I am thinking about generosity today.  It is one of the ten perfections in Buddhism.  My heart was warmed last night as I cruised the internet.  Can you believe that?  I was kinda surprised myself.   Mostly on the internet I expect to find enough information to make my head burst open but I'd never really thought of it as a place to experience generosity.

When I first joined etsy and the blogging world in December, I was bowled over by the creativity that's out there.  Not only was creativity alive and well in this age of mediocrity it seemed boundless.  Maybe the world wasn't go to hell in a hand basket as my mother likes to tell me.

My first experience of  computer generated generosity came from some of the forums on etsy, where people with lots of knowledge about etsy were sharing it freely with "newbies" like me.  Then I found Timothy Adam's websites, including Handmadeology which struck me as both clever and generous.  This guy has built up a wealth of knowledge over the years selling his gorgeous metal art on line and he has websites dedicated to sharing this info and promoting other artists.  Now, sure it helps his sales (this is called 'enlightened self interest' in Buddhism) but it is also an act of generosity.  He doesn't have to do this.  In fact some people might think they were better off if they kept all their hard won knowledge to themselves.  Does Walmart offer free 'How To' tips to the little corner hardware store on how to run it's business?  But  Adam has figured out a  win/win way to do business.  He shares.  People visit his sites.  He makes a living doing what he loves.  We're all wiser and happier.  And a new cooperative paradigm for making a living evolves.

Sylvia Boorstein in her book "Pay Attention, For Goodness" Sake" says this about generosity:  "Generous acts are a relief because they connect. They are always in relationship. They can't be isolating.  And generous acts don't require some thing to give away.  I understand the Buddha's statement "We all have something we could give away" as including in addition to material possessions --companionship, comfort, encouragement and care."

So Adam is offering encouragement and care.  As are the people who have created the "Sneak Attack" on Etsy.  I saw the title on a forum and had to check it out.  What the heck is a sneak attack, I wondered.  Sounds kind of like a swarming.  Well it is, but it's a swarming of generosity!  On the sneak attack website, they post an etsy seller who is new and/ or has low sales and as many people as choose to, go and sneak up on the seller at an appointed time and buy stuff from them.  Now how cool and generous is that.  This is real empathy combined with action ... the will to offer encouragement and support to people you don't even know, who you understand through your own similar experience, are probably feeling a bit down at the mouth.  Another tenet of Buddhism is exhibited here, recognizing that we're all the same.  If I suffer, I can expect that you experience suffering as well.

Then I discovered the "Etsy Stalker" whose byline is "where internet stalking is a good thing".  The esty stalkers find sites that they like and promote them on their website.  This helps visibility, traffic and sales for the "stalked" and gives some profile to the stalkers as well.  Needless to say another creative two headed act of generosity.  There are other people out there on the forums doing similar things and many I'm sure I have yet to discover.

I do find the artists I've encountered on the blogs and etsy a most generous bunch, willing to share artistic tips and knowledge and marketing info.  It's a whole different business and living paradigm. .... creating a kinder more generous business environment.  Like Buddhism that says hey, we're all in this human experience together; I get the same feeling, for the most part from the  handmade movement .   We're all in this together, let's support each other.  Lots of bartering and hearting and generous ratings go on.   

And the final words go to the Buddha:  "Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression.  We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous.  We experience joy in the actual act of giving something.  And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given."   Pass it on.

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