Reciprocity

ancestral stones

Hands grasp, but also give.
Mouth tastes, but also speaks.
Nose breathes, but also smells.
Eyes see, but also show.
Ears hear, but also balance.

The hands teach us not to be selfish.
The mouth teaches us to give thanks in word and song.
The nose teaches us to learn from our environment.
The eyes teach us to show compassion and sincerity.

All parts of ourselves both give and receive. They function on a principle of reciprocity inherent in their very character. If our senses are so noble, shouldn’t we be as well?

The eyes of a dedicated person show an inner fortitude and charisma that the eyes of the ordinary do not. Scientifically, we know that an eye is an eye, a mere organ, yet experientially we know that the eyes are virtual windows to the soul. For us to achieve similar depth of character, we must live according to the inherent nobility of our natures. Each one of our senses is not simply an information-gathering faculty but is a channel of expression as well.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

It’s what you do with what you got. It’s the eye that’s seeing. It doesn’t much matter what it sees, if the eye is a seeing eye. And if it isn’t a seeing eye, then of course, you can wander all over the world like some of those poor souls on tours, with eyes that have never learned to see at all. — Ursula K. LeGuin

I am always fascinated with people who are fully aware. Their presence is unmistakable – their eyes shine in a way that other people’s do not. With many people, there is just a dull glow to the eyes, but with someone who is awake to life, there is a spark in the eyes that says, here is someone who is aware. They see the remarkable in the ordinary, and do not need to go touring or exploring to find something extraordinary – they know it is all around them.

I think a lot about reciprocity these days. In ancient societies, people gave and took freely, and the society was based on mutually sharing for the good of the tribe. We see that as communism today, and label it as a bad thing. We laud the virtues of capitalism in western society, and allow the rich to dominate society while the poor suffer. But where is the giving back? If our society has become so corrupt that there is no giving back from the well off, no desire to support those less fortunate, then it will fall. Not from any outer forces, or disasters, but simply from its own imbalance. The lessons of history teach us this all too clearly – when empires become unstable, they fall.