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Generosity

In develop a philosophy of the world or “reality,” one can be led astray quite easily by apparent contradictions. Whether or not our senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste) help us to understand reality itself, we must acknowledge that we are (generally speaking ) not impervious to and in fact heavily influenced by sense perceptions. Any philosophy must be practical – in that it can be practiced. A philosophy concerning itself only with metaphysical and ontological questions is perhaps fascinating, but worthless. To ignore the world we sense and the reality we “know” is to not fully understand reality itself.
One truth about reality is interconnectedness. Nothing stands alone. Thus, any practical philosophy must take interconnectedness into account. This is where we will begin with the notion of “generosity.” “Generosity” is seen as an act of giving, and often at a personal sacrifice. Indeed, one cannot give without making a sacrifice. For example, if I give a pencil to someone, I have sacrificed the pencil itself and the time spent giving the pencil. As we are interconnected, generosity – or the sacrificial giving – is the way to a balanced stated of mind. Why must I be generous in order to have a balanced mind?
First, do not confuse “balanced” with “happy” or “satisfied.” Nor should “balanced” be thought of as being “unhappy” or “unsatisfied.” The term “balanced” means “even” or “level.” A balanced mind is thus a mind that does not veer to any particular extreme, be it good or bad.
The natural world is replete with evidence of generosity. Anything can be viewed in the light of being generous. A lion hunting and killing a zebra to feed the pride shows the generosity of the lion (sacrificing time and energy) as well as the (unwilling) generosity of the zebra (sacrificing its life). A plant being nourished by the sun is another example of generosity at work. The sun must lose some of its sunlight in order to give it to the plant. The plant, in turn, grows and sacrifices parts of itself to animals, such as pollen for bees or leaves for caterpillars. Everything in the natural world takes part in generosity. It would be impossible to describe all the ways in which generosity is present in the natural world, as no human can write a book of infinite pages. We humans are also a part of the natural world. Whether or not we wish to view ourselves as equal to other components of the natural world is irrelevant. The undeniable fact ist hat you are as much a part of the natural world as is a rock.
This is not to diminish being human, but simply to point out that like a rock, we belong to the natural world. We (humans and rocks) are parts of the same whole. Understanding that we are not only for ourselves, but also part of something is key to understanding the importance of generosity in attaining a balanced mind. If we are not generous, then we take without giving. Such action leads to an unbalanced state of being. One may think of a scale used to compare two weights. Suppose we begin with ten apples on one side and ten on the other. IN this thought experiment, each apple is the same weight, one pound each. If we move one apple to the other side, the scale becomes unbalanced.
In the same way, if we constantly take without being actively generous, our own inner scales will become unbalanced. The mind is the scale of human individual self-reflection. If all are equally generous, it follows that all are equally receiving. Generosity, when applied by all humans, leads to balance. For, if everyone were to give, everyone would receive and thus the mind, aware of this equal give and take, would be balanced.

How can one be generous?

Generosity takes many forms, but can be divided into four categories:
a).positive unwilling generosity
b).negative unwilling generosity
c).positive willing generosity
d). negative willing generosity

It is important now to define some terms. The term “unwilling” means something that is done to one. It is giving by virtue of being taken from. “Willing,” conversely means that the giving causes the taking. By “positive” is meant something pleasing to the person who is generous. “Negative” conversely means something that is not pleasing as result of generosity.
It behooves us to take a look at each of the four categories more closely
A.Postive Unwilling Generosity
This type of generosity refers to generosity prompted by being taken from that results in the generous person feeling better than before. An example of unwilling positive generosity would be being surprised by a spouse’s kiss in the morning. As there was no premediated kiss on your part and the kiss was a result of first being kissed, it is unwilling. Of course, such generosity is positive as one’s spouse expressing love for the other leads to feeling better than before. It should be noted here that this example is concerned only with spouses who truly love each other.

B.Negative Unwilling Generosity
This form of generosity happens when there is a resulting decrease in a person’s sense of well-being. An example of this is the case of forced rape. Forced r ape is when the perpetrator has sexual intercourse with the victim in spite of a victim physically fighting back. Such generosity undoubtedly results in a loss of well-being for the victim – both physically and mentally.

C. Positive Willing Generosity
This category refers to giving that causes taking and results in a greater sense of well-being. An example of positive willing generosity would be surprising a spouse with a kiss. Another example would be doing something to help another person. This is the greatest form of generosity humans may reach. Who would argue against generosity that is mutually beneficial?

D. Negative Willing Generosity
Although as in the previous example, giving causes taking, the result is a loss in well-being for the person who is generous. An example of this is unforced rape. It is important that the reader not see “willing” here as a synonym for “desiring.” Willingness, in this case, refers to a victim who gives in without struggle – as when a victim allows sexual intercourse to a rapist holding a gun for fear of being murdered. Nothing about his can be termed desirous on the part of the victim – other than the desire to live, or more properly, not be killed.

As we can see from the above descriptions, only one form of generosity is positive and completely within our control. Every other example cannot be said to be fully within the control of the individual. That is to say, positive willing generosity is brought monetary by one’s desire to do good. It is thus logical that since only this form of generosity is fully dependent on us, we should be generous in this way to achieve balance of mind. If the mind must account for a greater amount of eternally-caused generosity than generosity that comes completely from within, it will be unbalanced.

If one is extremely happy, does it follow that one must suffer in order to balance the mind?
No. Once again, having a balanced mind is not about being happy or unhappy in the conventional sense of either word. If there has been an equal give and take, the mind is balanced-if not, they are the remains unbalanced. If unbalanced, it could mean that one must be more generous. It could also indicate the need to be more receptive to the generosity of others.
At this point, it is going to clarify further what is meant by being “generous.” Some people-perhaps most people-will think that this refers to monetary generosity, e.g. giving money to the poor. While helping a person financially is certainly generous, it is only one aspect of generosity. The original meaning of “generous” was “of noble birth.” Thus, a “generous man” was an “aristocratic man.” Due to the idealized concept of nobility- the chivalrous knight, the polite noble, the educated aristocracy, etc., the term “generous” came to refer to anyone who exhibited such qualities, regardless of status. It is from this definition of “generous” that we get “generosity” as pertains to this essay. Furthermore, the term is narrowed further to simply mean an act of giving that results in a loss (sacrifice). Therefore, to be generous in a way fully within our control is to do things for the benefit of others.
Thus, generosity helps us to achieve a balanced mind by us giving as we have taken. Furthermore, when we accept the generosity of others, we help them to achieve balance. For this reason and for the above reasons, generosity is a quality we should all strive to have.