Sometimes it so happens that you when wake up to a new dawn, your body feels light, the mind is like a free bird in the sky, and the freshness you feel is like a miracle. Nothing specific has happened in your sleep, or before it. You wonder, who or what put you on Cloud Nine. This shall remain a mystery, because the source of this energy will be unknown.
These thoughts cross my mind, as I think of the gift one choses lovingly, but is refused. ‘No give, no take,’ may be a good policy in formal relationships, as it may save time and effort. But beyond that, a gift is an expression of love and gratitude. And love and gratitude are the qualities of the ‘Loving Heart,’
There are many spiritual practitioners who refuse gifts as it puts them under obligation of another person; it becomes the cause of your karma. Swami Vivekananda in his commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra writes: “Whoever receives gifts, his mind is acted by the mind of the giver, and makes us mere slaves. Therefore, receive nothing”.
But then, one is tempted to ask, ‘why does Sri Krishna in the Bhgawad Gita say: “Bring me a leaf or a flower in devotion and love and I shall accept it.” Even Krishna is happy with a gift or two, though it may be as small and as natural as a flower or a leaf or Sudhama’s rice. Sindhis believe that when you visit a saint, you do not go empty handed. We visit a holy place or saint to seek blessings. When we receive, we should acknowledge in gratitude; one way to do that is to offer something.
Giving is natural. “Give, give, give till it hurts,” is the sentiment one grows up with. What Patanjali or Vivekananda write is true, but it is applicable to those who are either tapasvis, or those who wish to dissolve their karmas without creating new ones. Those who live within the parameters of human society are bound to mingle with others and in the process create new karmas. And if gifts can bring joy, why not give? Anything given with love is uplifting.
How does one expresses one’s love to those who don’t accept gifts? Living as we are in the fellowship of other human beings, bonding at various levels of social interaction is inevitable.
Here is the answer: It is our basic nature to love. Love is pure energy. To express it, to gift it, without obligation, and without creating new karma is difficult. I had put this question to my vedanta teacher who had asked me to stop giving or accepting gifts for three months, which wasn’t difficult, for I had found the solution in postponing the obligation of return gifts for three months. (The return gift is not an Indian tradition as we practice nishkama karma — giving from the heart without expectation; there is no quid pro quo in a loving relationship).
Yet I would be upset whenever ‘would be receivers’ refused to accept (material) gifts. Love does not lie in these trinkets, I was told. Then how to gift love, so beautiful and uplifting? Much later I found the answer: Pray; prayer is also a soul quality: pray for that person’s welfare; for his wellbeing and happiness. Yes! It is someone’s love prayer which puts you on Cloud Nine!