Generosity in Times of Coronavirus

Written By Deepa Iyer

Earth’s the right place for love, I don’t know where it’s likely to go better – Robert Frost

It is the small things in life that bring joy to one’s heart. It seems as though each person desires an experience of greater and greater amount of solitude, peacefulness and beauty in one’s life. But the experience of day-to-day living is often so crowded with disharmony that it throws us off the seat of our inner peace. At present, the Coronavirus crisis has descended upon us like a sudden darkness that threatens to eclipse our sense of harmony. Yet, there are those in such times who refuse to let this happen. And they are not just extraordinary people of means, but every day heroes living ordinary lives, shining in places nobody would know about. One such story comes from our own school, Vinay Mandir, located across the Gandhi Ashram where girls from Standards 9th – 12th study. Many of these girls come from interior villages of Gujarat from economically challenged backgrounds.

One of those girl’s Gayatri, comes from a small village called Bakrana in Sanand District of Ahmedabad.  She is currently a student of Grade 10th. Her father, Ganpatbhai, happens to be the owner of a small grocery store in their village. When the virus brought life in the village to a halt, Ganpatbhai felt a calling to act. He wasn’t a person of great wealth. But he felt he wanted to do something to be of service to his villagers, especially those who were economically disadvantaged. Having lived in the village for a long time, he knew the people who lived there well enough to know who was most in need. He identified 50 families that were really struggling to survive and put together a grocery kit for each of them. The kit contained a month’s worth supplies of rice, atta, dal, cooking oil and washing soap/detergent, which he contributed from his own pocket. Inspired by his idea, his family members enthusiastically joined along to prepare the kits and go around the village to supply it to the beneficiaries personally, following appropriate social distancing measures.

“I have more than enough for myself and my family at this time. If I can do something to feed those who don’t have food, I am more than happy to share. I cannot let anyone in my village go hungry on my watch.”, said Ganpatbhai, when asked about his action.

What is the spirit that makes us mindful of such things as gratitude and generosity?

The spirit, from the moment that it awakens on Earth until the moment it leaves the body feels a range of positive and negative experiences. Amidst this mixed bag of experiences, its search for thankfulness seems to begin in earnest as a search for self. The essence of us is so close to us and yet, it is not our body. It is much more a part of our breathing, our very heartbeat, the rush of blood in our veins. And yet, this identity is the only explanation for praise and thanksgiving that we can find. When one realizes, even momentarily that deep identity within, that congruency with the cosmos, she is able to see herself as love itself. When one is able to begin with this insight, the attitude of service to others automatically comes upon us like a divine responsibility. Then one has stepped into a moment of beginning from a place of love where the ‘I am’ inside us is the same as the ‘I am’ in the other. Then the story of oneself is being created in rhythm with a higher force that one sees as destiny.

Ganpatbhai’s story is not of someone whose generosity came from wealth, but from a spirit of gratitude that is in connection to this higher self. If each of us can see the spirit that lies beyond our personality at any moment, and find rest there, our profound identity can reveal itself to us. Gratitude comes to us as a natural emanation from the soul which is willing to be still and allow the world to find its balance within.

Gazing at life from the standpoint of the everyday self, there is hardly ever a completely trouble-free or worry-free experience. There is hardly ever a reason to feel completely or profoundly grateful. And yet if we can move back into our higher self that is always coming home, we may see that all of our experience is such that the only response in any given moment is that of thankfulness and praise. From such a place, generosity is the most natural action.

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