The Importance Of Receiving And Interdependence
As I was going through some of my old albums, reminiscing about my traveling days, I came across a photo of the Buddhist monks. One of the only possessions that monks are allowed to have is their alms, or what come people call “begging bowls”; and every morning they’d go out to collect donations. As part of their advanced spiritual training, they can only live off of the support of the communities, off of what they’ve collected in their bowls during the day. This is an advanced spiritual lesson because as light workers we usually know how to give unconditionally – to be generous, charitable and compassionate – but what about receiving? Receiving is a lot tougher than giving – it demands a lot more of us spiritually than to give. Receiving requires humility, trust and surrender; it is a sacrifice of ego. And it is also about building a deeper relationship to ourselves, to one another, and to life itself.
And I wonder –
How many of us have this kind of trust in the universe? How many of us can go with open palms to live off alms; how many of us truly have such deep trust that life will find its way to channel through the right people on our path who will support us; to completely surrender and renounce the material and accept the interdependence of humanity; to accept that we will still survive even without our “control”.
If we ever thought that we’d overcome our ego, we should ask ourselves whether we can get that bowl and go outside – because that’s the moment when we’ll realize we didn’t overcome it at all – that we are very much still, even if slightly, attached to it. During the alms, the monks do not engage in eye contact and conversation, because this is about learning that giving and receiving should be done unconditionally and freely – without expectation. It is about learning that “the exchange” is equal in intention and vibration.
The lesson of receiving is in the growth of the spiritual attribute of humanity as we transcend the ego and self image, and bring into direct awareness the mutual interdependence of human beings.
One of our biggest struggles as human beings is the fear of being perceived as “poor” – this is a fear deep within us but once externalized it becomes visible. It becomes visible when we need the support of others. It becomes visible that as much as we get brainwashed about falsely-understood-independence, we are in fact, all interdependent. Through the humility and trust of receiving, we get to experience ourselves outside of ego and self-image – and to confront our own perception of who we are and what we value on a deeper level.
Receiving is about energetic exchange. For energy to flow freely and harmoniously there needs to be an equivalent energetic exchange. What is equivalent? It does not have to be in the same shape or form – it is energetic; it is equal in value. Equivalent energetic exchange is when the intention of the giver and receiver are balanced. And receiving is not taking. In the old days, when you’d enter a church or spiritual temple of any kind, you’d leave some donation at the front door – because energetically you were being given something as well: you were essentially receiving spiritual support and blessing. There was an exchange; and exchange is about building, deepening and sustaining a relationship.
Nowadays we live in a consumerist society where most people just take and take, and when they do give, even if just a compliment, it carries an expectation. Many people have had open palms throughout their life, but those that “gave” them something had expectations assigned to it – and so in time, they just closed off. Because the truth is – nowadays – most people just don’t know how to give unconditionally, perhaps because they never learned how to because no one ever taught them how to. But regardless, sooner or later, even the most generous of us will close off if energy isn’t exchanged. In the days of the follow/unfollow social media culture, immediate validation and endless expectations, and swiping human faces on apps – how much is a human worth? How do we value time and energy? How are we being grateful and giving back to those who’ve given us more than money; to those who touched our hearts; to those who shifted our perspectives; to those who gave us their time to listen to us, or even just to reply kindly?
We will not sustain humanity if we continue to take, disregard and burden even “good deeds” with impure intentions and expectations. Eventually things will fall. And those who did have the kind energies, of giving of themselves to others, will eventually close off and pull away because they’ve been burned too many times, or because they’re exhausted pouring into something not returning to them anything.
In its essence, receiving is about building a relationship of more depth and meaning. It is like breathing, for breath is the soul of life, the spirit of life.
Breath is powerful; it is how we are alive. It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs but breathing is done by our whole body. In The Voice of The Body author Alexander Lowen explains how the lungs actually play a more passive role in the respiratory process, as proper breathing involves the muscles of our head, neck, thorax and abdomen. The depth of breathing waves varies with emotional states; breathing is shallow when we are stressed and it is deepened through pleasure, sleep and relaxation.
With each breath, a wave can be seen to ascend and descend through the entire body. The respiratory waves begin deep in the abdomen with a backward movement of the pelvis, which then allows the belly to expand outward. The wave then moves upward as the rest of the body expands, and eventually our mouth opens. The expiratory wave begins in the upper part of the body and moves downward, the chest collapses and the pelvis moves forward, which creates a pleasurable sensation. In adults, this sensation has a sexual quality even though it doesn’t induce genital sensations. Throughout the entire body, breathing is experienced as fluidity and lightness.
The breath is the spirit or the soul of life. In all mystical philosophies, it is the breath that holds the secret to high bliss, which is also why it is the dominant factor of many spiritual traditions and practices. Some people focus on the breath as a way to receive energy from source, however, it is about building a relationship to our body, and to life itself. The inhalation of air, like the ebb and flow of waves, moves our body as we engage in a continuous giving and receiving, and deepens our connection to self, within and without.
This is actually similar to a lover’s kiss. In a kiss, lovers inhale together the air of their beloved; they inhale each other’s spirit of life. When we inhale air, particles of breath enter our nostrils together with the inhaled air and they also reach our brain, and the lungs in the breast, and from the lungs to our heart, and with that pulsing to all parts of our body merging with our blood and flesh. As we already discussed, every part of our body rejoices in breathing and through we kiss, it attaches with another body like a memory. This also raises the temperatures of the bodies and our soul follows this temperature. The love and emotion that arises through that process grows and increases with time; this deeper connection harmonizes the souls. Each spirit in contained in the other and nurtures their love; breaths unite into wholeness.
This concept on containment is essentially about building a dynamic union. In this containment, or space holding, we can also unveil who we truly are and thrive in our essence; we can be who we truly are. This also plays out in our intimate relationships – male energy bonds when it gives, and feminine energy bonds when it receives. The feminine energy is then able to give back to the masculine even more, and so they continue to feed one another and strengthen the bond in the devoted sacred space they share, called the relationship.
When the feminine energy feels safe in this space by her lover, she can surrender fully, fall into trust, fall into her beloved’s arms, and then nurture him, give to him, and offer herself in her full beingness and pleasure. The masculine is fueled by the feminine; the feminine is freed by the masculine. This intertwining and interdependence is what creates life itself; and healthy dependence is what creates true independence, of spirit. In the same way, we build a relationship to our self through breathing, and we build a dynamic union as we engage our energy, and our entire body, in the continuous movement and flow of giving and receiving. Otherwise, energy will become stuck, just like water becomes polluted when it doesn’t move.
Love itself is a surrender like the alms of monks; we open our palms in humility and vulnerability, offering of ourselves to another, selflessly and unconditionally, when we tell them how we feel, not knowing where it will lead us, but we choose to allow expectations and layers of identity to fall away, so that we can fall in love. Because a heart that expresses love is already grateful, is already filled; it is in this opening of our palms, it is in this heart opening, it is in this first kiss of souls, where the surrender is already held within, and love is already experienced.
How are the concepts of receiving and interdependence important for our relationships?
Relationships that are healthy thrive on interdependence. It is important to realize that we need others just as much as they need us – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as it comes from a place of understanding rather than lack. This understanding doesn’t make us needy, it doesn’t make us incapable, it doesn’t make us weak. It is what life is all about – as human beings we are interdependent on one another, and on everything else surrounding us, because everything in life is a relationship and a dynamic union. I mean, we are dependent on nature also; if it rains, it rains, there’s not much sun bathing we can do then.
We need people to support us just as much as we support them – just as much as we are there for them, so we too deserve to have others here for us. This requires trust and vulnerability. This requires expressing our appreciation towards our partner and telling them how much we treasure them, even for their ordinary gestures of care every day, like perhaps doing the laundry or cooking because we were tired, or giving them a heart-felt compliment, or just telling them “Thank you for listening to me during my hard moment.”
This also requires that we ourselves understand that relationships are not a one way street – that we too need to be appreciated and taken care of. And for the generous and helpful souls out there – it is remembering that “helping doesn’t mean taking crap”. If someone mistreats you, you need to walk away, because this is not what a healthy loving bond looks like. Love doesn’t hurt. It is just people that are hurtful because they just don’t know how to give love – they don’t know how to love – but it is not your job to teach them that or “fix” them.
Another important thing to remember is that givers must be in relationships with givers; this is because givers must learn to receive and being with takers will ultimately be abusive. And perhaps the most important thing to remember is that co-dependence is not interdependence. If we want to sustain a long-term relationship or a marriage, we need to accept that there would be interdependence. Allowing another to care for us in a healthy way is a gift of love we give them. Humility and vulnerability are strengths understood only by those devoted to their spiritual paths. It is understanding that beyond our physical self there is no place for the ego beliefs.
It is understanding that the bowl and the hands that give are both empty at the end of the day – but we are still whole and strong.
Making money or filling the bowl is not the point of the monks’ alms. It is to see that we are all dependent on the same Emptiness. This spiritual act of receiving reminds us where the true treasures are.
It reminds us that the bowl and the hand filling it are both empty; that walking silent gratitude notices the fillings of the heart.
Holding our palms open to others, and to life, does not mean we are incomplete within ourselves, neither does it mean we are asking for something that we haven’t earned. It teaches us harmony and exchange of energy – because giving and receiving are always measured by the intention of our heart – and that we too need support. It shows us that as givers, we need just as much support so that energy continues to flow. And it is also a way for all of us to connect more deeply and meaningfully. Do not suffice for anything less than that. Do not suffice for bread crumps or ingenuine “giving” burdened with expectations, especially in intimate relationships, as these are manipulation and control tactics.
Loving and giving must be unconditional and selfless; and though it is natural for us human beings to “expect”, we should at least be mindful of it when we do and be honest about what our true intentions are in the situation or the mutual exchange. Do not allow yourself to be mistreated or taken advantage of just because of your kindness and generosity. Remind yourself that you too should be supported and taken care of by others, whether financially, emotionally, spiritually and/or intellectually; and if you are not, you need to walk away for a chance to build something healthier and long-standing with someone as kind and generous as you. This is how we show respect towards our self and towards the life force energy we hold; this is how we nurture our creativity and sustain our vitality. Too much giving or taking can often times manifest as physical, emotional, mental and/or energetic ailments.
One of the hardest things being an artist, creator, writer, humanitarian, healer or any person involved on the spiritual path, is that often times, this work is given for free and that it is rarely appreciated. Spiritual work yields spiritual rewards, just like creative work yields creative rewards, and yet living in a material world, we all need to survive financially also; it is part of the energetic exchange, so that our creativity and connection continues to flow freely. This is why often times we will stop ourselves pursuing these creative and/or spiritual paths. We can sit there and wonder: should I pursue this, is it worth it, how would I survive? Follow your heart, is what we will hear people tell us. The truth is, it’s tough, it’s unknown and it’s uncertain. It’s about trusting our heart. To understand how to trust our heart, we must first understand how it functions, for it is not just an organ.
Our heart is an intuitive center. The first thing that it does is that it scans the collective consciousness and then it embodies that as a feeling, as an idea, as a passion or as an inspiration. In other words – by the time we get that desire, there is already a need for it created in our world, desiring us in return, yearning to be experienced by us. So don’t doubt; if you truly feel it, don’t doubt; if you truly feel you’ll contribute, don’t doubt; if it truly something you’re devoted to and passionate about, and it gives you joy, don’t doubt. All the messages that are truly coming from your heart are a part of what you came here to experience and contribute to this world as you express your unique self; in fact, we are already born with the exact body that will enable us to fulfill these soul desires.
In times of starting something new or walking a new path, the question shouldn’t be “will it be needed” or “will I be supported along my way” – because yes and yes – but rather the question should be “will I trust myself and believe in myself to show up?” Everything is interwoven in our world and our heart accesses it all. It is the vehicle to the cosmos; it is the initiatory pathway for higher consciousness. The heart knows, always. Yet often times we may not be hearing it clearly because it goes through the channel of our emotional body; this means that we must be clear in who we are, be attuned in our sensitivity, have a strong spiritual core and be able to discern emotions and thoughts.
And so dear reader, have trust; have trust in yourself and in life; have trust that life will find a way to channel through the right people who will support you on your path.
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