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What Paropkara Teaches About the Spirit of Giving

In a previous blog, we discussed that Paropkara, the Vedic tradition of acting selflessly to help others, is the point of this human existence. Leading a life of giving in this way may feel daunting, especially if we face material or emotional challenges. How can we give materially if we cannot provide for our own basic needs? How can we be giving emotionally, if we have no emotional support to heal ourselves?


Paropkara, however, is not rooted in the shame of "not-having." It is instead deeply rooted in the pursuit of recognition of what can be shared, and then moving from a selfless place to give or share that thing. In other words, Paropkara is based on the selfless sharing of something you surely have in abundance — it could a smile, for example, or a positive attitude. In this same way, it could also gee a special talent or gift from the universe.


If, for example, you have the talent of being able to plant vegetables that ripen, what we're really asked to give or share is that talent with our community, so that everybody can grow their food. Acharya Shunya explains in this way:


"Because I have the talent of being able to understand spiritual scriptures — draw on their very essence — and then forward that meaning, I do all my work in teaching and writing from that spirit of Paropkara. Paropkara is the spirit of whatever I'm doing. Even if you charge a fee, even if you charge something minimal, the intention is way bigger than what you're given. And the intention comes from this compassionate heart that recognizes that you're not giving to the other you're giving to your own self."


It is in this attitude that the Vedas ask us to give what we have in abundance. If this is a smile or talent, that is enough. If you have wealth or material assets to share, the imperative is to share these with the community. The important thing to remember here is that merely sharing material wealth — merely writing a check or making a donation — is not necessarily giving in the spirit of Paropkara.


There is a Vedic law associated associated with giving, which purports that the universe believes in complete balance, and to the degree which you give, you will also receive. To say: if you want to receive, give; if you want to give, you must be willing to receive. Living a truly holistic life comes from these deeper deliberations of the Vedic wisdom.

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