Being Fully Human Tip # 11: Receive Openly
“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others.” – Buddha
Earlier this year, I took a trip to India to explore spiritual places and ashrams I felt drawn to. This included meeting the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, spending time in an ashram in Rishikesh, and taking meditation classes at the Osho centre in Pune.
As part of my almost two month trip, I also had a chance to visit my relatives on both sides of my family.
I have a lot of relatives! My mom has three older brothers, and my dad is the youngest of nine children. You can only imagine how challenging it always is to attempt to visit all of my relatives and cousins.
Indian culture is known to treat guests as Mehmaan – to treat them with utmost hospitality, and to respect and meet all their reasonable demands.
Most of my family is still in India, and living in basic to modest conditions. I realize and feel my privilege of living in Canada all the time. Especially as a visitor from Canada, I get treated like royalty. My aunts will cook up a storm, repeatedly tell me I look too thin and insist I eat more, and serve me all the delicacies and treats they can arrange.
After my visit at a relative’s house, they always try to gift me some money; it is a way in Indian culture to give a blessing.
On this trip, I told my relatives that I wasn’t going to accept any money from them, that I had received all I could have asked for from my spiritual travels, and that their love and company was more than enough.
Naturally, there was backlash.
They protested and pleaded me to take their gift, used guilt to attempt to summon me to comply, or in the case of one of my aunt’s, outright got upset.
I enjoy giving, as it makes me feel good, and I like thinking of thoughtful and creative ways to do so. I naturally prefer to be a giver, and have always been awkward when it comes to receiving. In the past, this has ranged from not accepting Christmas gifts that I wouldn’t use, to occasionally not being willing to accept help on projects, and even having trouble receiving albeit constructive criticism.
Reflecting on my India trip, I realize that I have to keep practicing on being a better receiver. Not accepting gifts, help or advice in some ways isn’t allowing the other person to be a giver; essentially, not giving them the opportunity to give. When I view receiving through this lens, I realize that in order to be a better leader and person, I need to give this to others.
Receiving openly without judgment helps me in many ways.
It reminds me to let people operate they way they do, and to accept that. In the case of my aunt that wanted to give me money, that is the only way she knows to bless me, so I should respect her choice to give as much as I respect her.
It reminds me to remove my ego out of the equation, and to not judge or evaluate the gift. At the end of the day, whether it is an object or money, the gift is a token of value the person is attempting to transfer to me which I must be open to receiving.
It reminds me that it is better to have harmony and accept something in a moment someone else is giving to you, just so that they can have the feeling of giving. It doesn’t mean gifts can’t be returned or exchanged, that their advice will be perfect for me, or that their help will be complete. What outcomes happen after I receive are not as important as the act of receiving, and giving others to have the feeling of giving.
At the end of the day, I am a giver and am working on being a better receiver. But by receiving, I’ve learned to not question the outcomes of receiving, and to focus more on the intention of the person giving, to value it, and to accept their offer as a gift.
How could you be a better receiver?