Thursday, May 6, 2010

the giver should be grateful

True, it's open to abuse. But by the same token it is worth considering ... taken from 101 Zen Stories:

The Giver Should Be Thankful

While Seisetsu was the master of Engaku in Kamakura he required larger quarters, since those in which he was teaching were overcrowded. Umeza Seibei a merchant of Edo, decided to donate five hundred pieces of gold called ryo toward the construction of a more commodious school. This money he brought to the teacher.

Seisetsu said: "All right. I will take it."

Umezu gave Seisetsu the sack of gold, but he was dissatisfied with the attitude of the teacher. One might live a whole year on three ryo, and the merchant had not even been thanked for five hundred.

"In that sack are five hundred ryo," hinted Umeza.

"You told me that before," replied Seisetsu.

"Even if I am a wealthy merchant, five hundred ryo is a lot of money," said Umezu.

"Do you want me to thank you for it?" asked Seisetsi.

"You ought to," replied Umeza.

"Why should I?" inquired Seisetsu. "The giver should be thankful."

Today, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of canned and dried goods to put in a couple of bags that will be collected on Saturday and given to the local shelter.

While tooling up and down the food aisles, I felt as I feel at Christmas: I really enjoy buying things for others. And all the more so when it is something as basic as food. I was lucky to have enough money so I didn't really pay much attention to how much I collected in the cart was going to and did cost ... spaghetti, rice, canned peaches, coffee, Pop Tarts, soup, Ketchup, beans, Jell-O, brownies, peanut butter ... some stuff that made sense, some that was more frivolous. Everyone deserves frivolity, however small the frivolity may be.

And as I sat on the porch, sorting out what I had bought and figuring how to fit it in a couple of bags that had been left on the doorstep ahead of the collection by the local postal workers, I realized that people I don't know and may never know had done me a great favor.

I am not sure how I will repay that debt.


  1. The Pop Tarts didn't seem a good choice until I thought it through, thanks.

  2. "I realized that people I don't know and may never know had done me a great favor.

    I am not sure how I will repay that debt."

    My debts of gratitude simply grow larger as I live. Thank you. I was ready to hear this. Of all my debts these are the ones I am thankful for. How can this possibly be considered a viscious circle? Nothing viscous in it.