Dear Reader, As I began discussing in my last post, the gift world is a subjective experience of life in which your genius is fully supported and welcomed in its expression, and in which your needs and authentic preferences are joyously met by a provident universe.
I might elaborate on that by saying it's also a condition in which you don't need to control or manipulate anything, nor are you subject to any control or manipulation. It's a state wherein you offer yourself fully as a gift and experience yourself likewise fully supplied with everything-- also as a gift. The gifts which supply you come to you through a variety of people and circumstances, but they simply come. There's no struggling and striving involved, no need to force yourself to do work you don't want to do, no sense of barrier or disconnection between you and other people. In other words, the gift world is a lot different than the mad world we currently live in.
What's the mad world? It's the state in which we apparently need to strive and do drudge work in order to support ourselves, or, conversely, we need to manipulate, lie to, and exploit others in order to spare ourselves from drudgery (i.e., do business). It's a world in which we must exert control and force over ourselves (how else do you get yourself to go to work in an ugly office other than through forcing?), where we feel painfully alone and disconnected from our own vital souls and from the other people that surround us. It's something wrought upon us from the time we're very young and made to go to school in a thoroughly corrupt and increasingly pointless educational system. I think Gary Jules' cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" in Donnie Darko sums it up pretty well. But then again, the original Tears for Fears version is way easier to dance to:
The mad world is a condition in which we're desperately trying to control ourselves, other people, and all the factors which surround us out of an intense survival anxiety. Charles Eisenstein sums it up very well, blow by blow, in his book The Ascent of Humanity (which is available online in its entirety-- as a gift, because Mr. Eisenstein knows what's up). The mad world is a world in which technology and science, surveillance and laws, discipline and punishment are used to maximum effect in order to produce a very tenuous and unsustainable version of security in which we're not only not actually safe, but we're also now bored and depressed.
In the gift world, since you have no need to control, there's no fear. As the teacher Adyashanti has observed, fear is just a by-product of frustrated control. In the gift world, you do things, but nothing you do is "work" in the sense that we've come to think of it, because your security and your identity don't come from what you accumulate as a result of your effort. Instead, you give your efforts freely, accruing no obvious security or bolstering to your seperate ego-self. As you give in this manner, your wants and needs are subsequently mysteriously met in delightful and miraculous ways by the universe.
This miraculous movement happens because, as Lewis Hyde observed in his seminal work The Gift, when gifts received are consumed or passed on, the spiritual power at work in the gift grows-- more is drawn forth, more gifts flow to you. When gifts received are hoarded, stored up, or used only to accrue individual gain, the spiritual power at work in the gift departs-- it dries up, and no more gifts come to you. The gift spirit as it moves creates connection and joy, satisfaction and fulfillment among a circle of givers and receivers. The gift as it is hoarded creates disconnection and ennui, alienation and discontent.
Our genius (talent, intelligence, creativity, soul-- whatever you want to call it) is clearly a gift given to us by the source. We didn't manufacture our genius deliberately, of our own clever device. We didn't make it out of duct-tape and cardboard. It came to us freely, from outside our own will and effort. When we use our gift of genius only promote ourselves, only to make ourselves as individual egos more secure and safe in a seemingly threatening universe-- we then betray the spirit of the gift. We become hoarders. The genius then stops giving us ideas and inspirations and means to carry those out because we've proven ourselves ungrateful. When we wrongly use gifts graciously bestowed upon us as possessions to which we are entitled, the spirit of the gift dies.
It was a revelation to me when I learned from Lewis Hyde about the need of the gift to move. While it made deep sense to me on one level, on another it contradicted the perverse notions of gift reception that I'd learned in childhood: gifts are given to me on my birthday and at Christmas and they are MINE all MINE. I was taught that to give away a gift that I received as a birthday or a Christmas present was rude. Not only this, but I was prevented from actually formally reciprocating the gifts given to me. When I was invited as a guest to the birthday parties of other children, the birthday gifts bestowed on my friends by "me" were toys bought by my mother. I was not allowed to give the pine cones and twigs, the flowers and quartz pebbles I really wanted to give. The toys my mother presented did not come from me-- they had nothing to do with me. I was deluged with gifts and yet kept out of the circle of giving-- and perhaps unsurprisingly, the gifts I was given in this fashion meant nothing to me on a deep level. They represented nothing to me but a hoard of "my" toys. The ethos of giving and receiving taught to me thus denied the actual spirit of the gift.
As I practice the path of virtualizing a great universe and surrendering into my innocence, I can more and more clearly perceive that what I'm virtualizing is the gift world-- and as the gift world is more and more coming to be my reality,I'm growing increasingly excited. In the coming days, I'll be sharing more regarding what it takes to move from the mad world to the gift world.
Image Attribution: Photo "Presents under the tree" by VancityAllie, borrowed from Flickr under Creative Commons licensing.