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Karma yoga focuses on the adherence to duty (dharma) while remaining detached from the reward. ~from Wikipedia

I’m soooo not into Christmas. But it’s a ritual that my family adheres to, and I’m expected to take part. So I do what I can to spend responsibly. I don’t buy outrageously expensive presents, and I try to make them things people actually want, or will like and use. Or experiences – dinner, gold class movie tickets etc.

However, it really doesn’t sit well with me, this spending spree at the end of the year. Just on family members alone, I can end up spending several hundred dollars (especially now that my nieces are here – I am weak when it comes to spending on them!).

This bothers me. And inevitably, all this shopping for Christmas presents leads us to buy ‘presents’ for ourselves, too. I’ve done it.

As if to emphasise the point, I’ve just finished watching Heart of Yoga – a marvellous DVD on Swami Satyananda and the fabulous work he did for the small town Rikhia in India. Did you know that before he established his ashram there, it was one of the poorest towns in India?

The DVD documents the annual Sat Chandi Festival, which is all about love and giving to those in need. It includes plenty of interviews with Swamiji, and also his closest disciples. There are two other sections of the DVD – Satsang (spiritual discussion) and a little footage of the Tantric Panchangi rite that Swamiji performed non-stop for almost a year.

I’ll write up a review of the DVD another time. For now though, I want to focus on the giving aspect.

Swamiji talks about how giving is not the same as charity. And that we should share what we have with others. We should not be stingy. He points out that there are millions of people around the world in need of care and no one is looking after most of them. And that there’s no reason why this should be.

Swamiji was not a rich man. He simply created a community where giving was a part of the culture. And so people came and they gave. As one example, this giving enabled young girls from poor families to get married by providing the all-important dowry, without which Indian girls can not get married (in traditional society).

He says we have to give what people need. That giving must be practical.

Then, I thought about Linda-Sama and her attempt to raise money for the Seva Foundation. She was planning on giving them $108 from each American yogi who signed up to support the Kilimanjaro Center for Community Ophthalmology, in Tanzania.

To help people with sight problems (in terms of Christmas presents, that’s kinda hard to beat, isn’t it?).

Things didn’t quite work out like that – every place on Linda’s retreat was filled by locals in Tanzania. And maybe the Tanzanian yogis needed to be there instead. Who knows? However, that did put a bit of a dampener on Linda’s plans for donations.

BUT – what about me? And you? And you, over there? We can still give.

Even if it’s only $5, $10 or $20. Or if you can manage it, the $108 Linda planned to donate per American yogi.

I tend to think that most people who can afford a place to live, buy clothing and enough food to eat, can afford to give some amount of money to someone else.

So how about it? This Christmas, I’m asking that you share some of your money with others who are less fortunate. Just because you can.

Read Linda’s post about how to donate.

Also, ask other people in your life if they would like to show some Christmas generosity to others, too.

Blessings to you all!

~Svasti

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