"The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life." (Rabindranath Tagore)
When you do someone a favour, do you expect them to reciprocate? Or do you give freely, without expecting something in return?
Some people expect to benefit every time they do something. It doesn't matter whether they go out of their way for a friend, perform a chore at home, put in extra hours at the office, bend over backward for a customer, or console a neighbour in a time of need. And even though they might not express their expectation right away, you know it's coming. That's because they're keeping a mental tally — and they have VERY good memories. Not just that, some folks manipulate others by using The Law of Reciprocity. This powerful psychological principle states that if you give someone something, the recipient will feel compelled to return the favour. It doesn't matter if you give someone a gift, a kind gesture, or a material possession. The result is the same — they'll feel that they owe you! If you think this type of giving is disingenuous, it is.
When you give something with strings attached, your focus is on how you'll benefit personally. On the other hand, when you give of yourself without expecting something in return, your entire focus is on pleasing the recipient. You're not really giving if you expect something in return.
Giving with Strings Attached Isn't Really Giving, and you say, I am helping you and in return take money, that's not helping.
Selfish people have one eye on giving and the other eye on calculating the return. That's unattractive.
Give with No Strings Attached.
People who adopt a "What's in it for me?" attitude are obsessed with benefitting every time they do something. This mind-set has significant consequences.
First, this attitude is unproductive. Some folks get frustrated if they don't benefit from their efforts. This can lead to anger and resentment — causing friction in the best of relationships. Second, this attitude is ugly. If you think being selfish isn't blatantly obvious to others, you're kidding yourself. Think about folks you can trust or count on. Do selfish people come to mind? Third, this attitude is depressing. When everything you do has strings attached, you never experience the uplifting feeling that comes from giving without those strings attached.
Give for the Right Reason
If you think people benefit from a selfish mindset, you've got it all wrong. Giving shouldn't come with demands, conditions, a hidden agenda, or a scorecard. When you give of yourself and expect something in return, it's a transaction not a kind gesture. You have one eye on your actions and the other on what you'll get in return. That not only takes you away from the moment, but you can't do your best or be your best when you have a hidden agenda.
You might not always benefit from giving of yourself. But you can take great pride in knowing that you're making a positive difference in the world. While takers may accumulate a lot of things in life, they'll never experience the joy of being a giver. Here's the secret: Give for the right reason — and that is, give for no reason at all.
Everybody has duties in life. Some duties are given to you, you don't have a choice, for example, your duty as a citizen, as a member of society, as a son/daughter, as a brother/sister, etc. Other duties you choose yourself, for example, your duty as an employer, as a husband/wife, as a friend, etc.
In Karma Yoga it is important to prioritize your duties; to know what is most important and which duty you should give more importance over other.
Expectation of reward
When we do something we rarely do it without expecting something back. For example, at the office, we do our work because we get a salary at the end of the month or for the praise or position. We take care of our partner or child, but we expect love and appreciation in return. When you do something without the expectation of reward, the outcome of your action doesn't affect if and how you do your duty. You do it because it is your duty, not because you get something out of it.
It is also important to fulfill your duty at your best. For example, if you are given a room to clean, you don't clean it very well because no one is watching or you think what you get paid for it is very less. Another example can be when your employer asks you to do something at work you have 2 options: you can do what he asks, nothing more, nothing less. You could have done it better and more detailed but because your working day was almost over you quickly finished the work and went home.
The concept of trees is also similar. Since the beginning, trees have furnished us with two of life's essentials, food and oxygen. As we evolved, they provided additional necessities such as shelter, medicine, and tools. Today, their value continues to increase and more benefits of trees are being discovered as their role expands to satisfy the needs created by our modern lifestyles.
Community & Social Value
Trees are an important part of every community. Our streets, parks, playgrounds and backyards are lined with trees that create a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Trees increase our quality of life by bringing natural elements and wildlife habitats into urban settings. We gather under the cool shade they provide during outdoor activities with family and friends. Many neighborhoods are also the home of very old trees that serve as historic landmarks and a great source of town pride.
Using trees in cities to deflect the sunlight reduces the heat island effect caused by pavement and commercial buildings. But have you ever wondered who planted these trees? The person who planted may not be alive till now but his actions are benefitting the community. This is the true meaning of life when you expect nothing in return.
Personal & Spiritual Value
The main reason we like trees is because they are both beautiful and majestic. No two is alike. Different species display a seemingly endless variety of shapes, forms, textures and vibrant colours. Even individual trees vary their appearance throughout the course of the year as the seasons change. The strength, long lifespan and regal stature of trees give them a monument-like quality. Most of us react to the presence of trees with a pleasant, relaxed, comfortable feeling. In fact, many people plant trees as living memorials of life-changing events.
Trees help record the history of your family as they grow and develop alongside you and your kids. We often make an emotional connection with trees we plant or become personally attached to the ones that we see every day. These strong bonds are evidenced by the hundreds of groups and organizations across the country that go to great lengths to protect and save particularly large or historic trees from the dangers of modern development. How many of your childhood memories include the trees in your backyard or old neighborhood? The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable.
The tree is seen as a sacred symbol, which carries significant meanings in both religious and spiritual philosophies. While the Tree of Life symbolizes many different things, there are some common themes that the symbol represents within multiple cultures.
THE MEANING OF THE TREE OF LIFE
A Connection to Everything: The Tree of Life commonly represents the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. It symbolizes togetherness and serves as a reminder that you are never alone or isolated, but rather that you are connected to the world. The roots of the Tree of Life dig deep and spread into the earth, thereby accepting nourishment from Mother Earth, and its branches reach up into the sky, accepting energy from the sun and moon.
Ancestry, Family, and Fertility: The Tree of Life symbol also represents the connection to one's family and ancestors. The Tree of Life has an intricate network of branches that represents how a family grows and expands throughout many generations. It also symbolizes fertility as it always finds a way to keep growing, through seeds or new saplings, and is lush and green, which signifies its vitality.
Growth and Strength: A tree is a universal symbol of strength and growth as they stand tall and strong all over the world. They spread their roots deep into the soil to ground and stabilize themselves. Trees can weather the toughest of storms, which is why they are such a prominent symbol for strength. The Tree of Life represents growth as a tree starts out as a small, delicate sapling and grows over a long time into a giant, strong tree. The tree grows up and outwards, representing how a person grows stronger and increases their knowledge and experiences throughout their lifetime.
The Tree of Life symbolizes one's individuality as trees are all unique with their branches sprouting at different points and in different directions. It symbolizes a person's personal growth into a unique human being as different experiences shape them into who they are. Over time, trees gain more unique characteristics, as branches break off, new ones grow, and as the weather takes its toll - all throughout which the tree remains strong and sturdy. This is a metaphor for how people grow and change throughout their lifetime and how their unique experiences mold them and enhance their individuality.
Immortality and Rebirth:
The Tree of Life is a symbol for rebirth as trees lose their leaves and seem to be dead during winter, but then new buds appear and new, fresh leaves unfurl during the spring. This represents the beginning of a new life and a fresh start. The Tree of Life also symbolizes immortality because even as the tree grows old, it creates seeds that carry its essence so it lives on through new saplings. Peace: Trees have always evoked a sense of calm and peace so it is unsurprising that the Tree of Life is also a symbol for peacefulness and relaxation. Trees have a relaxing presence as they stand tall and still while their leaves flutter in the breeze. The Tree of Life serves as a reminder for the unique, calming feeling that one gets from trees.
THE HISTORY OF THE TREE OF LIFE SYMBOL
As a symbol, the Tree of Life goes all the way back to ancient times. The oldest known example was found in the Domuztepe excavations in Turkey, which dates back to about 7000 BC. It is believed that the symbol spread from there in various ways.
A similar depiction of the tree was discovered in the Acadians, which dates back to 3000 BC. The symbols depicted a pine tree, and because pine trees do not die, the symbols are believed to be the first depictions of the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life also has strong significance to the Ancient Celts. It represented harmony and balance and was an important symbol in the Celtic culture. They believed it had magical powers so when they cleared their lands, they would leave one single tree standing in the middle. They would hold their important gatherings under this tree and it was a very serious crime to cut it down. From here arises the question What does one have to do after surrender? The answer is, nothing. So does this mean one gives up doing one's duties?
That is not how the word 'nothing' should be interpreted. One must do one's duties as prescribed, but they should be performed in the proper spirit. One must be unattached to the fruits of one's actions. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that one must do one's duties, but one has no control over the fruits. Nor must one claim any right to the results. We should expect nothing in return for what we do. This is a difficultattitude to have, but it must be cultivated.
But service rendered in this spirit does not qualify to be called service at all. When we do something expecting something in return, does it not become a mere business transaction? And in any case, we do not ask the Lord for moksha. We ask for petty favours.
Even Sandipini, the teacher of Krishna, asked for the restoration of his dead son. He should have asked Lord Krishna for moksha, for who but the Lord can give us moksha? But Sandipini requested that his dead son be brought back to life. Asking the Lord for frivolous things is like asking Kubera for a mere loin cloth.
In the Katru Karavai verse of the Tiruppavai, Andal says that the Gopas of Gokula milked the cows. There was nothing surprising in their doing so, because they were cowherds. Tending to cows and milking them was their livelihood. So by milking the cows, they were only doing their duty.
Kindness is one of the greatest gift you can bestow upon another. Do not wait for a thank you. The kindness lies within the act of giving without expectation of something in return. Only by giving you are able to receive more than you already have. The act of giving without the expectation of something in return is the true definition of kindness. No one has ever become poor by giving. Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. If you are helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business not kindness.
Kindness in words create confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. If we all do one random act of kindness we might just set the world in the right direction. Remember, no act of kindness however small is ever wasted and you will never regret being kind.
Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life and the starting point of all your desire. Time and circumstances can change any time. Don't devalue or hurt anyone in life. You may be powerful today, but remember time is more powerful than you. One tree makes a million matches but only one match stick is needed to burn a million.
When we give without expectation or recognition, our hearts open to wealth of love. Real love begins when nothing is expected in return. Love one another, work hard and have faith. Be grateful. Use your manners be respectful and always tell the truth. Do your best. Give without expectation and forgive everyone. Use kind words, say your prayers, look for opportunities to serve and count your blessings. Blessed are those who can give without remembering." said Elizabeth.
Real integrity is doing the right thing that nobody is going to know whether you did it or not. Sure sign of spiritual growth is when you give without expectation, instead of wondering what is in it for me. A good principle for leaders and ministers: DON'T TALK, ACT. DON'T SAY, SHOW. DON'T PROMISE, PROVE.
You cannot give compassion without receiving it yourself. When you give it is never about them, it is always about you.
Five simple rules of happiness:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3.Live a simple life.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.
A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.
The same applies for community building as well and probably that was what Tagore was hinting at. When you plant a tree, and help it to grow, it may happen one day it will grow so big, and give shadow to many, that day you may not be alive, but it will serve many, give shelter to many, that should be the attitude towards life.
In business, when someone creates a large industry, while he/she is creating, it may happen it will take his/her entire life to make that happen, but in mind if intention is to build a shelter for the people, option to give food and money making process for thousands of people, that industry will always sustain and grow and I personally feel, that will never die; power of universe will always be with the "good cause".
A true community worker knows that he cannot get anything in return. Building a hospital or setting up a blood donation camp knowing that it will never benefit him is what life means. When we work without expecting anything in return the same comes back to us as a reward. However, expectations only put us in self doubt and depression.
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