Our volunteer Swami Gurubhaktananda penned his thoughts on the art of receiving, please read his article below:
The Art of Receiving
We recently published an article on “The Art of Giving”. It was in keeping with the ABH’s motto of “Caring, Sharing and Serving”. But there is another virtue that giving has to pair up with, without which we cannot truly appreciate the greatness of the act of giving. If that second virtue is not forthcoming, the act of giving loses some of its lustre.
What is this second virtue? The Art of Receiving!
Giving and receiving are both capable of reaching great heights of nobility, heights that depend entirely on the spirit in which these simple-looking acts are done. Without the spirit behind the giving, this virtuous act lies in danger of becoming an ordinary mechanical act, the conveyance of an item from one hand into another. A conveyor belt also achieves the same result – it conveys an item from one end of a belt to another end some distance away. The belt is not interested in what it is conveying, nor to whom it is conveying it. It is a merely mechanical conveyance. If giving and receiving become as spiritless as that, they will not generate the happiness of the heart that we know them to be capable of.
When we give something to someone needy, we dare not imagine that he has nothing to give us in return. If his heart has been touched by the gift, he does respond. It may just be a heartfelt smile; that is just as valuable as the gift of the giver. The receiver’s heartfelt gratitude in receiving is just as noble as the giver’s heartfelt charitable nature.
Giving and receiving are acts that mirror each other. A genuine need generates a genuine act to meet that need. In this way, nobility in the receiver is reflected in nobility in the giver. The two unite into one divine act of tender ‘caring’ and ‘sharing’ that is worthy of the name ‘serving’. Nobility of heart is the magic ingredient that raises both giving and receiving to heights which the human mind can hardly imagine. The heart then “outreaches” the mind, as it were, and great joy is experienced by both the giver and the receiver.
In this article we are focussing on Receiving. When we want to know more about the receiver, we do not look at his hand or his words, but at his heart. The heart is not perceptible to the human senses. How are we to tell the nature of the heart that receives? Fortunately, the effects produced by a heart full of gratitude are very visible and very different from a heart that lacks it. Here is how a discerning person can tell the difference.
A “glimpse” of the receiver’s heart may be seen in the gesture of his hand as he receives, but that is not the whole picture. We get another “glimpse” in his words, but that too may be deceiving. Hands and words aren’t sophisticated mediums to convey the rich feelings of gratitude that well up in a noble-minded receiver.
We are compelled to turn to more subtle “glimpses”. We look at the eyes, and there we see an unmistakable glitter, a sparkle that expresses both gratitude and joy. We look at the forehead in which we see a radiant shine that is free from all creases of anxiety.
However, the best of all “glimpses” is seen in the receiver responding promptly to the act of receiving. A food consignment from a chain supermarket was received with the instruction to distribute it at once to the children and the elderly residents. Promptness in responding is a key indicator of how grateful we are in receiving a gift.