Giving and Taking by Khalil Gibran
Once there lived a man who had a valley-full of needles. And one
day the mother of Jesus came to him and said: ‘Friend, my son’s
garment is torn and I must needs to mend it before he goeth to the
temple. Wouldst thou not give me a needle?’
And he gave her not a needle, but he gave her a learned discourse
on Giving and Taking to carry to her son before he should go to
Why don’t we give? How do we decide when to give or not give? Recently, I was chatting with my friend Yvette about an incident in which a person selfishly held back giving an opportunity to another friend. It was a classic dog in the manger event; unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to share the details but you get the point… We wondered loudly about what people gain from selfishness and discussed the magic of giving and how it benefits both the giver and the receiver. When we develop the habit of giving freely; performing random acts of kindness, we trigger a chain reaction of giving that comes back to us like a boomerang. In giving, we must also learn to receive. Khalil Gibran, one of my favorite mystic poets, writes beautifully on the subject… I remember when I was first introduced to his brilliant book “The Prophet,” I couldn’t put it down. I inhaled every page and detail and then read it again.
“For in truth it is life that gives unto life – while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.” Khalil Gibran
Giving Chapter V by Khalil Gibran
Then said a rich man, “Speak to us of Giving.”
And he answered:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the over-prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving
And is there aught you would withhold? Contd below
Why do we give? Do you have a personal philosophy about giving and receiving? The initial prompting to give is often an innocent one; we volunteer to help others, we share our extra food with friends and family, we give to the poor, we send donations and gifts to uplift our fellow man. In all that giving, we nurture ourselves, fulfill our desire to make a difference, and we grow in compassion. Ultimately, we are the beneficiaries of our giving. More below. 😉
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give…” Khalil Gibran
All you have shall someday be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life – while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers – and you are all receivers – assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be over-mindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father. Khalil Gibran
And what about that biblical warning of not throwing pearls to swine…? I think it has more to do with the company we choose to keep than the giving nature we share with others. Our lives are a reflection of the energy, the people, and the things we surround ourselves with. We must be vigilant… yet we must not hold back from the opportunity to give. In life, there are naysayers and those unappreciative of giving/receiving. With wisdom, we learn how tackle such situations.
What are your thoughts? Have you read Gibran’s writings/poems? Which one comes to mind? Do you have a personal philosophy about giving and receiving? How do you decide when to give or not give? Do share! Thank you. 😉
Positive Motivation Tip: The more we learn to give, the more we open our hearts to receive; in the giving, we are already blessed to receive…
- #2: Sand and Foam by Khalil Gibran (1year100books.wordpress.com)
- Film: Newswire: Salma Hayek is going to make Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet into a movie somehow (avclub.com)
- Rumi: Seeing The Unseen… (eof737.wordpress.com)
- Nana’s Calligraphy (reemfaruqi.com)
- Khalil Gibran: On CHILDREN (spiritualdenizen.wordpress.com)