Giving and Receiving


In every interaction there is a giving and receiving that happens simultaneously at multiple levels. Each level of giving and receiving constitutes a unification. The base level is when the giver gives what is to be given and the receiver receives it. The giver gives a vessel and the receiver receives and takes possession of the vessel being given. This is how conventional street wisdom understands giving and receiving.

This base level is not unified when the transaction is not complete. That is, when the receiver does not take possession of what is given. But this is not the only level. For the giver gives not only the vessel but also gives a spiritual essence along with the vessel. The spiritual essence is the essence of the giving from the giver’s point of view. The essence is relative to the giver’s intent of the giving and to how the giver hopes the receiver will be able to utilize the given vessel for both physical and spiritual purposes.

When the receiver receives what is being given, the receiver not only receives the vessel, but also receives the spiritual essence of what is given, as this spiritual essence is interpreted by the receiver. In the complete transaction, the receiver indicates to the giver that the receiver has received the spiritual essence of the giving by giving back to the giver the acceptance of the giving. For the receiver, in accepting what is given, is also giving this acceptance to the giver. To complete the unification at this level, the giver must accept the receiver’s acceptance.

This second level of unification is easily understood by thinking about the usual social etiquette in the giving of a gift. The giver gives and the receiver receives. The receiver says something like, “Thank you, it is just what I wanted.” indicating such an acceptance of what is received that the receiver’s acceptance constitutes the receiver’s giving to the initial giver. Then the initial giver says something like “Enjoy and use it well.” This constitutes the initial giver’s acceptance of the receiver’s giving the receiver’s acceptance of what the initial giver has given. Because the receiver has already told the giver that “it was just what I wanted,” the giver’s statement, “enjoy and use it well,” completes the unification.

But when the receiver does not accept what the giver is giving, the transaction is not complete. Instead of a unification there is a disunification. The giver will feel rejected or angry. And unless the giver is able to control these feelings, the giver will initiate an entire new action sequence that in effect rejects the receiver’s giving that consists of a rejection of the initial giver’s giving. It would not be unusual for the initial giver’s rejection to be emotionally raw and initiating a new round of disunifications.

There is yet another level to the giving and receiving that is not necessarily apparent from the verbal social interaction. This level is a higher spiritual level and has to do with the more global understanding and intent of the giver and the receiver. This level is activated when the giver understands and feels that the giver has been the receiver of Divine giving and as an agent of the Divine, the giver chooses to pass along the giving. The giver’s understanding and feeling that the giver has been the receiver of the Divine giving constitutes the giver’s acceptance of the Divine giving. For this the giver thinks or says a blessing. This level is unified when the receiver understands that the giver is in fact acting as an agent of the Divine and therefore, the receiving is not just a physical/spiritual receiving, but a spiritual receiving from the Divine as well. For this the receiver thinks, says or gives a blessing. And this constitutes the receiver’s acceptance of the Divine giving.

There is one higher spiritual level. This is the level at which both giver and receiver make a conscious choice to understand everything happening in their lives starting from the point of receiving the Divine giving. This is the level of so aligning their individual wills with the Divine will that the giver and receiver are always evaluating and understanding, not from their individual point of view, nor from their family’s point of view, nor even from their country’s point of view. But they are evaluating and understanding from the point of view of the Creator. The issue is whether the act in question will in its direct and indirect effects be of greater benefit to the universe than any other act that could be undertaken.

We call this level the level of cosmic consciousness. It carries with it a central internal calmness and peacefulness, an equanimity, that cannot be shaken. For at this level, the ego is nullified. There is no reason for reacting or getting upset about the seemingly bad things that others are doing. There is no reason for being upset about a giving that is not being received. All this is understood as the hand of the Divine setting up situations that make possible the revealment of the highest level of virtue that we, to whom the badness is done, or we whose giving has been rejected, are capable of revealing. For it is in these situations that we have the possibility of bringing into manifestion (open revealment) the virtues of a tzaddik.

The challenging or difficult situations are precisely those situations in which a special Divine spiritual giving is occuring to us. The issue is whether we are open for receiving it. When we are, we are deeply thankful for this possibility. We complete the transaction by completely receiving what has been given and we do what must be done to reveal the highest level of virtue that we can. Our center is not moved and we experience indescribable delight.

Let us consider the situation where the giver forces the receiver to receive something the receiver does not want to receive. The receiver may not want to receive the given vessel itself or may not want to receive the spiritual essence given along with the vessel, or may not want to receive either. For example, what happens when the giver gives an insult to the receiver or when the giver-merchant overcharges the receiver-buyer. In these kinds of giving the receiver has been wronged and the unification of the complete-giving/complete-receiving will not happen, unless the receiver acts in a specially virtuous way.

The insulting statement not only is a put down, but it is not true. The overcharging merchant is not fair. We engaged in the transaction with an implicit understanding that the exchange was to be a fair exchange. We had no desire to get from the merchant either more than what is proper or less than what is proper for the fair exchange. We, the receiver have been violated by the bad thing given to us.

Let us look more closely at the situation. The giver was in control. The giver was the initiator and was responsible for the wrong doing given to the receiver, a wrong doing that has a dimension of vessel and has a dimension of spiritual essence. And the receiver must receive the bad thing the giver is giving. How can the receiver completely receive such a giving? For the giving by nature was not complete.

In another kind of situation, we may be the giver who gives essential and important information to a receiver. But the receiver actively rejects the information. Here, the rejection by the receiver constatutues a giving to the initial giver and the initial giver becomes the receiver of the initial receiver’s rejection of the initial giver’s giving. This rejection by the receiver constitutes the receiver’s giving back to us. Our perception of this giving is that it is not a good giving. We have received something bad. When we receive a bad thing we feel bad for having been wronged; we get angry. An injustice was done. Our essential being has been violated.

In every situation that we do not completely receive, we judge that in some sense we have been violated. When we are violated we get angry. As the receiver, our problem is to completely receive a violation! How can we do that?

We must think as follows: We must think that the giver of the violation is the hand of God. Perhaps the bad we have been given is spiritually similar to a bad that we had earlier given to someone else. Or perhaps it is a bad that we were about to give to someone else. Or perhaps the bad we have been given carries within it a spark of Godliness and the situation has been expressly created for us to provide an opportunity to bring into action a virtue, to manifest a quality of Godliness, that is beyond what might be ordinarily expected. For example, God might have expressly created the situation for the purpose of providing us the possibility to manifest the appropriate virtues which would help the giver become a complete giver. If we, the receiver, could do this then since the giving would be complete, the receiving would be complete and the violation and hurt would disappear from existence. Or God might have expressly created the situation for the purpose of providing the possibility for us to manifest the virtues required to enable us to be a complete receiver of what the hand of God has given us. This latter case commonly happens for the purpose of bringing the realization to the receiver that the receiver must change the way the receiver makes judgements so that the the receiver might learn how to be more correct in interpreting the spiritual essence of what has been given.

Our first step to completely receive the bad is to accept the hurt and move on to take action which brings out the sparks of Godliness concealed within the bad, i.e. to act as the tzaddik. When we do this, something very interesting happens. Because we begin to engage in an action to reveal Godliness, the hurt goes away. It dissolves.

Initially it is the ego within us that yells: hurt! hurt! hurt! Return hurt to that which has hurt us! Withdraw from, isolate, conquer or destroy that which has hurt us! But as soon as we engage in an action to reveal Godliness, the ego becomes occupied as the coordinator of the activity we engage in to bring out and reveal the spark of Godliness. The ego which had been yelling hurt no longer is in existence.

With respect to the giver of the wrong, there is more. For the giver has not become a complete giver. To facilitate the giver becoming a complete giver the receiver must try, in a proper way, to make sure that all the facts are known by the giver. For perhaps if the giver more fully understands what actually happened, the giver would have acted differently. Doing this properly means that the receiver must fully understand the giver’s assumptions, perspectives, and framework of operation, so that the receiver can engage a dialog with the giver and do so from the giver’s point of view. This kind of dialog can straighten out mistakes made by the giver at the level of vessel or mistakes by the giver at the level of spiritual essence of what is given, or mistakes made by the receiver relative to the interpretation of the spiritual essence of what has been given.

If this level of action does not work, the receiver may initiate actions which catalyze social pressure to be put on the giver to right the wrong. Or the receiver may take legal action. Or the receiver may take no further action and just drop the situation. But for the receiver, the essence of what the receiver does is to help facilatate the giver to become a complete giver and for the receiver to become a complete receiver.

Now let us consider the situation from the point of view of the giver. How does the giver completely give in this situation in which the giver has just given a bad to the receiver. First the giver has to come to a recognition that a bad had been given. When the giver recognizes that the giver has made a mistake, the giver must immediately stop any other activities that involve making the same mistake and resolve not to make similar mistakes in the future. Then the giver must right all the similar past wrongs that the giver committed. This level is the level of nullifying the bad vessel of what had been given. The amount overcharged the receiver must be returned to the receiver. The giver must explain to the receiver that the giver made a mistake and that the giver will not make the mistake again. The insult must be taken back. The giver must go to the receiver and explain to the receiver of the insult that the giver no longer feels about or judges the receiver in such an insulting way.

Finally, the giver tells the receiver that the giver is sorry for having made the mistake. This is important because it is the action which undoes the giver’s intent of giving the bad to the receiver and/or undoes the receiver’s judgement that the giver had intended to give the bad to the receiver. This level is the level of nullifying the bad spiritual essence of what had been initially given.

The receiver completely receives the giver’s taking back of the giver’s mistake and completely receives the giver’s regrets by telling the giver that the receiver has forgiven the giver. Everything now is all right. All is forgiven. The giver receives or acknowledges the receiver’s acceptance of the giver’s taking back of the giver’s bad by telling the receiver “thankyou for understanding.” This level is the level of unification that completes the nullifying of the bad spiritual essence of what had been initially given.

This process of recognizing the mistake, stopping all other such mistakes that may be in process, resolving not to make such future mistakes, righting all the wrongs, and telling the receiver of the mistake that the giver is sorry constitute the process of return. The bad, both the vessel and its spiritual essence, which had been brought into existence is completely taken out of existence. It is returned to non-existence. We call this process Teshuvah, whose literal meaning is reply, answer, response, rejoinder, return, or repentance. It is related to the root שוב and associated with the passage:

And you shall return unto the Lord your God and hearken to His voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul.{Deuteronomy 30:2.}

When we have made an error by incompletely giving or incompletely receiving, Teshuvah is our response, our reply, our answer, to the repair which must be done. It is the way we can recover from a mistake and continue on the mission of completely receiving and giving that we are called upon to do. Completing this mission is our return to a greater nearness to God, to a greater God-consciousness. Completely receiving and giving is how we unify God’s name.