Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Six Paramitas in the writing life, part 2

added to this blog - as I wrote about generosity, catastrophe was unfolding in Haiti - please consider making an online donation now, if you haven't, to an agency like the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders. I will make mine undirected as I always do - I'll let them decide where it must go for as we are well aware, even when disaster strikes in one part of the world there are still ungoing needs in other areas.
Here is Doctors Without Borders' URL -
The six paramitas are sometimes called 'the perfections'. The word 'paramita' is a Sanskrit word that means "that which has reached the other shore". They are the means by which we move out of our sleepy self-absorbed state into one which sees the conectivity of all. From selfish to compassionate, from asleep to awake - the worthy boats we take from one shore to the other are these six ways of being. The six paramitas are Generosity, Discipline, Patience, Exertion, Meditation and Prajna or descriminating awareness wisdom.
Yesterday I talked about discipline, the second paramita. Today I will discuss generosity and how it affects our writing life (and the rest of our life which is, of course, not separate).
It is said that generosity is the virtue that produces peace. Pretty tall order but try it - it really does. Of course, there are several ways we can be generous - it is not really about 'goods' but more about 'services'. And dedicating what we do to create enlightened society. There are several ways we can do this as writers. One of the ways is by sharing our knowledge - teaching - this is very alive on the internet with a generous population of bloggers, folks with web sites, free services like Wikipedia and other wikis. It is in our communities with writing groups - those funded by government agencies and ones that have grown out of individual initiatives. And it is in ourselves. When we practice generosity we are cutting attachment and the magical belief that if we give away our time, our knowledge, our money or our goods that we will not have enough for ourselves. Our experience tells us differently - the more we give the more we have. I'm not talking about idiot compassion here - we'll get to that in number six - but the notion that we create abundance, we magnetize what we need, when we are willing to offer it all up. In Nova Scotia this might be invoked by the phrase "what goes around comes around".
When I am stuck in my writing it is usually because I am fixated on the outcome instead of the process. If I can apply generosity to myself and my work and also to those that have obtained what I may desire - it frees me up to attend to what I need and LOVE to do.


Watery Tart said...

I wanna get some of that Prajna.

Generosity is such a funny thing. It seems the most 'obvious' of virtues, but of the list, it is the one that is hardest for me. I am an only child and so probably have as little 'other awareness' as a person who tries not to could have. Generosity doesn't come easily. I just don't NOTICE where it might come into play... my brain doesn't come up with 'this might be a nice thing to do for this person'.

Writing though, or the writing community, seems to offer what I'm oblivious to in the real world. I can offer encouragement to people (particularly young writers--I find that VERY rewarding), I can help spot what might improve a story for a writer friend, I can pass on little lessons. I think it gives an avenue for a person who doesn't exist in the real world on quite the same plane as people around her.

Is this still all Buddhist stuff? because I'm really loving it. Makes me think about things I ought to be doing in so much more gentle a way than a lot of what I see, and I am more inclined to try to absorb it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

WOnderful words and sentiment!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I love this post. The wisdom in your words rings true.

I have known so many designers (my OTHER profession) that are closed off, they fear their ideas being stolen to such a degree they won't even consult unless cold hard cash is on the table. I took another approach, I found that by imparting inspiration and enthusiasm I picked up clients of a like mind, working in a collaborative manner. I never thought about money, it just came into play naturally.

Our thoughts are our reality, if we fear a thing, it will manifest.

Jan Morrison said...

Yep Tartlett - it's all that 'booodist' talk! And you have it so don't need to look elsewhere! Your generosity is quite apparent, I do believe.
Thanks Diane - I like this post too.
Yes Elizabeth - that is exactly right on. When I've helped with writing workshops the fear is wild - they'll steal my idea - help help! Freezes ya up solid.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

I have so many friends called Paramita, but I never knew what it meant till you told me. And now that you mention it, I see it only needed a bit of imagination for me to figure out the meaning of the word - both 'par' and 'mita' are common words in Hindi/ Sanskrit.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

And I am with Tart. As an only child, this is a rather difficult paramita for me. There are things I am very possessive about, mostly physical things, but always things that are seeped in memory.
But I am generous with my time, and I am generous about giving myself to anyone who needs a part of me, so I guess it balances out.
Do need to work on it, though.