It has been a rich and intensely social learning time for us. Crises have provided opportunities for profound inner change and served as an initiation towards further spiritual growth. In my longing for community, for a language of the heart and an education that touches the spirit, I met Linda and Dan Propov, founders of the “Virtues Project”. Linda’s belief that the light in each of us creates the community reminded me of how important it is to recognise and acknowledge each other’s gifts and possibilities.
The Propovs have gathered and described simply with practical use in mind 52 human characteristics or qualities, like truthfulness, kindness, purposefulness. They hold meaning and value across all cultures and religions and are an innate part of our human nature.
Virtues are used to encourage peaceful character development in children, families and communities across the world, so we can learn to become authentic, responsible, morally conscious, soul guided beings.
Virtues are used to acknowledge, guide and correct. In a recent virtues workshop I was acknowledged with specific virtues attached to specific actions that I had taken. Having those mirrored back to me gave me a sense of really being seen. They were meaningful because they were specific and reflected accurately positive things I know about myself.
As adults, we can use the virtues language to correct our children without shaming them. Example: Mother to child: “I see your kindness in helping your sister”, will help the child to recognise her behaviour or strengthen and awaken a quality she needs to develop. Whereas telling a child, “you are so kind”, labels her and may leave her under pressure to perform or uneasy about receiving it because it isn’t always true.
“You forgot to be kind”, can be a way to correct a child, rather than, “how can you be so mean?”
I believe children need routines, rituals and rules that are based on naming qualities rather than blaming or labelling. It gives them a framework to measure their own behaviour against and to correct it. As Linda says, “the world needs people who are willing to take personal responsibility. Let it be this generation.”
SOME THOUGHTS ON GENEROSITY
“Generosity is giving and sharing. It is giving freely because you want to, not with the idea of receiving a reward or a gift in return. Generosity is a quality of the spirit. It is an awareness that there is plenty for everyone. It is seeing an opportunity to share what you have and then just giving for the joy of giving. Generosity is one of the best ways to show love.” (Virtues Cards)
It is time for me to step out of the dark of deprivation mode into the light of abundance. The war that my parents suffered is long gone. We live in a time and a place of plenty, if not too much. Now it is time to find abundance in my spirit, to find abundance in my soul. As I am freeing myself from a long-term habit, a companion for most of my life – my pleasing pattern – I gain the freedom to love. This then enables me to give freely, not compulsively. What is freely given is enjoyed. The act of giving, the act of love (Erich Fromm) is in itself fulfilling. There is no hidden expectation as there is with compulsive giving from a pleasing place of mind.
To be aware that there is plenty for everyone, including myself, helps me to relax. I notice the franticness that accompanies the thought that I have to fight for my space. Fast talking, too much talking is the result. Hectic atmosphere, always wanting without necessarily knowing what. A grasping clinging gesture. Holding on to, fear of letting go. Fear of letting be. I end up putting pressure on myself, as I pressure everyone around me. Fear is the driving force.
Just relax. There is plenty for everyone. If only we could trust and share.
There is enough time, as I take my time. The slower I go, the more time I have. The more time I take, the more time I have. Time is a paradox. The more I try to grasp it, hold on to it, the faster it runs through my fingers like sand that I can’t hold. It wants to flow.
As I join in with the flow, as I allow myself to be present with what is, time becomes this spaceless, endless moment, the infinity of the non-dimension of a dot. Now, that’s all there is. Here is where my power lies (Eckhard Tolle). That’s where I can be. Just be.
There is plenty for everyone, including myself. I can relax, observe my breath, open my heart and feel the natural flow of love. Join in with the natural flow of love.
Love is not a human invention. You can see it everywhere. The way adult birds protect their nest with the vulnerable young ones. Their impulse to feed them. The keenness of the bees to collect pollen for their offspring. The abundance of blossoms that the fruit tree produces to create a better chance for reproduction.
Love is all around us. It is deeply connected with life.
Generosity is an expression of love. Generosity is a way to connect with the stream of life, to fulfil my purpose.
First I create internal space, for breath to flow, for spirit to glow, for soul to settle. I feel into my body, I connect with being alive. I open up to receive the gift of life, again and again, with every breath I take. I receive life as I breathe in life sustaining oxygen. I breathe out nourishments for the plants that they transform back into oxygen. As I breathe, I connect with living entities around me.
I relax as I feel one with nature. I am part of nature, and life and love flows through me – as I make space for it, as I allow for it.
Generosity starts with letting myself be a vessel of love and life to flow through. I practice trust. All I can do is trust, as I breathe out that the next breathe-in will follow. As I give, I open up to receive.
A virtue to reflect on:
“Peacefulness is an inner sense of calm that can come in moments of silent gratitude or prayer. It is a way of getting very quiet and looking at things so you can understand them. It is facing your fears and then letting them go. It is trusting that things will be all right. Peacefulness is giving up the love of power for the power of love. Peace in the world begins with peace in your heart.” (Virtues Cards)
Copyright © 3/2004 by Rumijabu | Originally published in “Partners in Dialogue” March 2004