Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Gift You Can Give Anywhere, Anytime & Its Free!

In our culture, part of the season's ritual includes exchanging gifts. A lot of us have mixed and contradictory feelings about this. I have jokingly heard the season referred to as "the winter shopping festival." It is the commercial pressure circus that makes us recoil in disgust. Something gets lost in the foofaraw of black friday and cyber monday and the cry for us to buy, buy, buy, now, later, on boxing day. Sometimes the things we are urged to buy are are so incredibly unnecessary,as to be amusing; things that have caused me personally to nominate "useless gift of the year"; things such as electric jewelery cleaners, hot dog cookers. I'm sure you have a few nominations of your own.

So here's a different kind of exchange we can engage in at anytime, Christmas or not, that might seem more meaningful:

"In order to become used to caring for others more than yourself,
You should bring to mind the essential points and integrate in your being
The visualization for exchanging self and others,
While riding the horse of the breath.
from "The Great Medicine That Conquers Clinging To The Notion Of Reality" root text of Shechen Gyaltsap Pema Namgyal

Here is the wonderfully clear commentary on the practice by Shechen Rabjam:
...Breath out while thinking, "May all my good qualities, happiness, merit, and realization go out with my breath and benefit all beings." Think that all beings receive these benefits. Then breathe in while imagining that you inhale all of their suffering and its causes, their negative thoughts, and so on. Imagine that you attract these afflictions and negativities like a magnet, and by dissolving all that you inhale into your heart, others are freed. Then while briefly holding your breath, transform all the suffering and negativity that you inhaled into joy and happiness."

Happy gift exchanging!


  1. Ahhhh...hummmmm.....

    Lovely practice for this time of year. Your description of the demands to gift our performance of giving is bang on! We stopped going to my brother's because the idea of giving "only stocking stuffers" became a farce of filling giant stockings. The most beautiful moment for us this year was to watch my mother put her pink bedroom slippers on her hands as gloves. This may be the last Christmas we have with her and that's a sweet, quiet memory to carry into the next year.

    Thank you for all you give, Carole. Precious gifts in every post.

  2. I love this Carole!!!! BEautiful teaching!

  3. I'm standing with 108zenbooks and Laura...this is an enriching post full of wisdom...your breath practice takes me to the difficult power of Tonglen and your Rejoice post on with a balanced skilled you are as teacher of peace...I bow in your direction and say...
    thank you


  4. Thank you Carole for gift of this practice that goes so much against the usual grain. Normally, we push away what is not pleasant, and try to take in as much as possible of the fun stuff. Here I love that the conscious taking in of the hard stuff renders it harmless, purified, transformed. I see lots of applications for this in the family arena where interactions are so pregnant with such moments :)

  5. 108ZB - I love the picture of your mom with the slippers on her hands. So wonderful to be able to savour this.

    Laura - Thanks and I suspect you do some of this already?

    merci33 - yes I thought of Tonglen too when I read this practice. Bows in return.

    Marguerite - It is so true, when I first read about tonglen I thought how can I do this? It is so contrary to our habitual behaviour. Ah the family, yes! Opportunity awaits me!