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  "2003 Holiday Message"

By Cheri Huber

Many of us learned growing up, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The Buddha taught that greed, hate, and delusion power this world of suffering. According to Christmas Humphreys, "We are punished by what we do, not because of it." I feel confident Mr. Humphreys would have agreed that we are also rewarded by what we do, not because of it. The Golden Rule encourages us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. I think all these teachings point toward a basic law.

In Buddhism this world of suffering (samsara) is called "the world of opposites." We are constantly here wishing to be there, doing this wanting to be doing that, trying desperately to be the right person while believing ourselves to be the wrong person. With a practice of paying attention to what is rather than what we have been taught to believe, we begin to realize that old expression about "two sides of the same coin" contains essential information for those of us wishing to end suffering. In Zen we are encouraged to realize that body and mind are one. Form is not different from emptiness. It is not either/or. We can't have a this without a that, a good without a bad, an us without a them, a right without a wrong. Those perceived opposites exist as one thing; a duality is one, not two.

Recently, as I was making a huge effort to connect with a neglected muscle during a Pilates lesson, the teacher said to me, "The more you give, the more you get." Now, this was not an unfamiliar concept for me, but the simplicity of the statement was striking. It summarizes and clarifies the issue of duality in the spiritual person's pursuit of an end to suffering. In that statement there is no room for questions such as: "How much should I do?" "How much is enough?" "Am I doing more or less than my share?" "What's fair?" Instead the questions become: "How much do I want?" "Do I want a lot or a little?" "Do I want it all?" Because whatever I decide to do, whatever I choose to give, that's what I get.

I get what I give because giving and receiving are not separate things. They are one. What I do is what I get. What I get is who I am. If I love, I feel love, I feel loved. When I give with an open heart, the open heart is what I get. There are no limits, no amounts, and no standards in this business of giving and receiving. Whether it is offering a blessing to the person in such a hurry that cutting you off in traffic seems their best option, or meeting a stranger with a smile, or picking up a gift for a child who might not otherwise receive one, or complimenting someone who has brightened your day, or remembering to say thank you to a loved one you might tend to take for granted, what you give is what you get.

So, this holiday season and every moment of life, I wish you a heart filled with the joy of giving/receiving. And whether you decide to put this sticker on your car or your bathroom mirror or your bulletin board, I hope it reminds you that you, and only you, are in charge of what you receive in this life. Your heart holds all the joy, love, goodness, and kindness that is life, and each time you give your heart the slightest opening, it will give you lavishly of its great treasure.

In loving kindness,

Copyright 2003-2011 Cheri Huber