Following My Feet (written 2002)
The opening of the heart makes some things seem even more complicated than they were before. Or maybe it's adapting to this process of opening the heart. Because, I think maybe the reason it all seems more complicated is that I still too often move into planning mind and analytical mind, rather than letting my toes guide me. They have pretty good communication with my heart.
For instance, all of us who are affluent in this society and we are many, we members of the comfortable middle class, have more than we need. Ok, so some are struggling to pay a mortgage, others still paying for last year’s new car or the family holiday in Hawaii. But that’s my point, isn’t it? If we think we need more, it’s because we keep driving toward desires, thinking that getting there is the key to happiness. But, if we accept first the idea that we have enough, and then accept our interdependence with all beings, there is another need there. That need is to give back in some way. One way is through money.
It’s never been easy for me to say no. And the result is a constant bombardment of “charity” requests for money. These arrive by mail, by phone, at my door and by e-mail. And I generally give a little here and a little there, recognizing the legitimacy of the needs these charities represent and also feeling that by giving I honor my own connection to all of this. The poverty, the environmental issues, the diseases, the social ills. I have a share in their creation and so a share in their easement. And I have wondered so often as I give these piddling amounts, like a prince sprinkling nickles among his starving people, just what does this achieve? And if I were a celebrity, one of those who throw their name and weight behind a particular cause, what would that cause be? How do these people choose? Is there a measuring stick? For their involvement makes a significant difference. They aren't just throwing nickles. And so I become confused.
I’ve started research projects to try to select some one charity so that I could give a significant amount that might have real impact. And I’ve abandoned these searches more troubled than ever by the setting of such criteria. It isn’t, after all, a matter of a checklist and logic.
I think what I need to do is learn to follow my feet. They know what kind of path beckons them. They know their own capacity. What I mean is that we each have gifts and skills. We each have experiences that pull and shape us. And so each finds the direction of giving most suited to his/her capacities. This means not only how much money and how much time to give. But where to give it. And I do not need to find some ultimate “best” place to aim my efforts. The web of being connects all of us. The myriad needs, the multitude of skills and the masses of funds that are available all fit somewhere in this network. And when I follow my feet, whatever strand I follow, the gentle vibrations of these movements will impact the whole. Thus, if I am mindful and it is my open heart that guides those steps, I need only walk on.