The ability to receive doesn’t get much air time. Giving, that’s all over the airways. Receiving not so much. That’s why for August I picked it as the topic of the monthly dojo meeting I have with my Reiki practitioners. It resonated overwhelmingly and I’m sharing some of that here, as well as other thoughts about it since.

While I write, I’m listening to NPR’s stream of the Newport Jazz Festival. This too is a form of receiving through the ears and the soul. As a longtime jazz aficionado, I’ve never been to this historic festival but since I’m open to technology and noticed updates on Twitter about the streaming, my weekend is being enriched.

Receiving is traditionally pooh-poohed. Probably because it’s a developing nation, Hindu spiritual teachers invariably advocate feeding the poor. In Christianity there’s the ethic of charity. Even on social media, the blogosphere and new business models, the mantra is give, give, give! Giving is vital. Giving is a great way to live. It’s necessary, powerful and inspirational. We’d be nowhere without givers.  The question is, can there be true giving without also receiving?

Culturally, morally and spiritually we’re programmed against receiving. There’s a lot of judgment against receiving. It’s deemed unsavory. Receiving has been made “wrong.”

  • Help and serve others.
  • Share and give.
  • Don’t be selfish.
  • If I accept something, I’ll be expected to return in kind.
  • Accepting something is a sign of weakness.
  • Be self-sufficient.
  • Don’t be indebted to anyone.

This is all one-sided. The ‘flow’ is absent. Without flow there’s stoppage, blockage, constipation and rigidity. We become dry and humorless. Our edges get sharper and sharper and pretty soon everyone is pointedly staying out of our way!

And it goes against natural law. Flow can’t be one way. Penetrating and yielding, action and stillness, the lingam and the yoni, giving and accepting, speaking and listening, pushing and pulling… the list is endless.

Another layer of this is that we all have broken parts, parts that say, “I don’t deserve,” “This will never happen for me,” “Everyone else has better luck!”

The universe will fill your cup — if you carry a big cup, a little cup, or a thimble!

— Sonia Choquette

There’s this too: Imagine you’re a person who has a one-way flow, outward… You like to meditate, enjoy spiritual practices, are into healing, want to be a better human being. Yet after sincere attempts your practices seem to hit a wall, time after time. There’s an opening, a great sigh and then the same humdrum returns. It’s discouraging and confusing.

The divine qualities you so want to engage can’t enter if your ability to receive needs work. If that’s the case, take that into your practice, bring the light of awareness to that until there’s a balance. Then see how your inner experiences broaden. Notice the wisdom and power that comes through, the sweetness of unattached love, the mesmerizing light and arcing joy.

Rumi says it really well:

Open the window of your heart

Do not worry if our harp breaks
thousands more will appear.
We have fallen in the arms of love where all is music.
If all the harps in the world were burned down,
still inside the heart
there will be hidden music playing.
Do not worry if all the candles in the world flicker and die
we have the spark that starts the fire.
The songs we sing
are like foam on the surface of the sea of being
while the precious gems lie deep beneath.
But the tenderness in our songs
is a reflection of what is hidden in the depths.
Stop the flow of your words,
open the window of your heart and
let the spirit speak.

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The Wisdom of Receiving

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