Giving and Receiving

The flower gives nectar. The bee gives pollination.

The bee receives nectar. The flower receives pollination

Nobody is –
We just fool ourselves.

– Sri Chinmoy 1

Some people find it easy to give, but very difficult to receive; they feel they should remain aloof and independent.

Some find it difficult to give because they worry they will be worse off or gain no benefit.

For example, some people may be willing to offer support to friends, but when they are in difficulty they will feel they shouldn’t bother other people and refuse any support or help.

It is good to be in a position to give; but if we don’t allow ourselves to also receive, we can’t complete the circle. We deny others the opportunity to get joy from giving. We consciously deny ourselves the opportunity to get what we are happy to give others.

Giving is an opportunity to transcend selfish motives and feelings. But receiving is also an opportunity to transcend our pride and ego. Often we refuse to accept support from others out of a sense of personal pride. It may arise from a subtle sense of superiority. When we give, we may feel, perhaps unconsciously, that we are superior to the person who we are giving to. But, if we feel superior about giving, then we will also feel inferior when receiving. That is why we only want to be in the position of giving.

“Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which
most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have
to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting
things, which can be much harder than giving…
Accepting another person’s gift is allowing
to express his feelings for you.”

– Alexander McCall Smith

However, when we learn to both give and receive with equanimity, we will feel neither superior or inferior. We will get joy from both.

“Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted.”


Don’t Keep Count

Another mistake is to think life is like a weighing scale. If we give 10 units to person A, we shouldn’t wait expecting 10 units in return. It is best to just give and receive in accordance with necessity and follow your heart’s prompting. If your giving and receiving is calculated like a weighing scale, you will lose all spontaneity and joy from the process.

Receiving and Dependency

There is a big difference between receiving genuine support and becoming dependent on the efforts of others. If we are in a difficult position, we should happily receive from others, but we should not abuse this help and become a drain on the other person’s good will.

It is the same with giving. Often when we give love, support and aid to others it can help. But, we shouldn’t be giving without discrimination. We have to keep asking ourselves is this actually helping the other person? If we give support which encourages them to have better self-esteem and self-confidence, then we are facilitating them to solve their own problems. But, if we just give sympathy and try to solve their problems for them, we may not be helping them to learn what they need to know. There is no right answer for how to help others. But, we should be careful of our motives in giving to others.

Beauty of Giving and Receiving.

As John Donne said ‘no man is an island’. When we give and receive unconditionally we remember our extended consciousness our inseperable link with other people. There is a beauty to giving and receiving.

“Beauty is in giving. Beauty is in receiving. Beauty is in giving and giving alone. Beauty is in receiving and receiving alone. When I give, I see that before I have given anything, Heaven is already smiling through my offering, my self-giving. When I receive, I see that earth is smiling in and through me.”

– Sri Chinmoy 2


photo: Tejvan

  1. Sri Chinmoy, Seventy Seven Thousand Service Trees #40,823
  2. Sri Chinmoy, Fifty Freedom-Boats To One Golden Shore, Part 4, Agni Press, 1974.