Updated: Jul 12, 2022
A Paradoxical Result
What the miser fears,
that keeps them from giving,
is the very danger that comes
when they don't give.
— SN 1.32 (Samyutta Nikaya)
This is really quite a profound statement. Not just in a Dharma context, but in all aspects of our lives. What generally keeps us from giving is the fear of not having enough. While that fear may be temporarily allayed by acting on it, we actually strengthen the fear. Its roots grow deeper in our heart and mind, and spring up again at another time and in another situation. Our fear of not having enough remains and grows stronger.
Furthermore, when we don’t give to others, we cut ourselves off from connecting with them. We isolate and cut ourselves off from our connection to this life. Our fear in not giving is the fear of not having enough. When we feel cut off from life, it is not a feeling of abundance. Life is incredibly abundant and when we are not connected to it, we feel a lack of abundance. Again, our fear of not having enough comes to fruition.
We can look at this phenomenon through a social lens. Let’s say that we are afraid of being rejected by others and ending up alone. Therefore, we don’t take any chances with our speech and behavior. We don’t express ourselves fully. We don’t allow ourselves to be fully known. The end result of this is that we won’t have many friendships, and the ones we do have will be on a surface level and not very fulfilling. The aloneness we were afraid of ends up manifesting.
It’s really quite amazing to see this play out in our own lives. It’s very important to see, because it’s the seeing of this that will support us to lean into the difficulties in our lives. When we don’t engage with what is difficult in our hearts and minds, our unconscious, habitual reactions kick in and shape our behavior such as to bring about the very thing we were trying to keep away. Seeing the truth of this gives us the motivation to turn toward and meet the challenges of our hearts and minds.