Generosity (Dana) is the first Parami. It is one way to begin to cultivate an open response to life.

I’ve just returned home from a lovely visit in New Zealand where my family and I spent part of our time in the home of a local family that we barely knew. I can easily say that we experienced an open-hearted gift of shear generosity and hospitality.

Imagine, inviting into your home four virtual strangers – from a different country, a different culture and expecting nothing in return. In fact, quite the opposite, this beautiful New Zealand family opened their home, feed us from their bountiful garden, invited us to use their collected rainwater (their only source of water) to bathe and launder our clothes and gave us warmth of a fire from chopped wood gathered off their land. Their lives are much simpler than mine. Their commitment to preserving the environment and earth’s precious resources run much deeper.

These strangers greeted us with open arms; they looked past our initial ignorance of the need for discipline and conservation. Instead, these beautiful people indulged us with what precious little they have with ease and grace. I truly felt the generosity of a family I had only communicated with through email. They gave us a gift — not only a warm and inviting home, but also their generous and kind spirit.

I can only hope that I may take this beautiful example of generosity and embody and allow it to express it in my own life. May I find more ways to be generous to all people that I come into contact with: neighbors I haven’t met yet, people from other cultures, strangers I meet in passing.

Generosity and giving freely are keys to happiness and well-being.

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