25 whatever is noble

Our second quest is for nobility, in the traditional sense of noblesse oblige – those who have caring for and supplying the needs of those who have not.

As with the quest for honour, it’s a journey from ego – or the false self, to eco – our true Self.  And as in the classic protagonist’s story, in order to find what we are looking for, we must face challenges, cross thresholds, overcome obstacles, and finally obtain what we desire – which is never was we imagine it to be at the outset.

A false view of ourselves can lead us to a wrong idea of what we deserve.  Greed is involves believing we don’t have enough.  This is a worldview of scarcity – If I don’t get it, someone else will.  As with pride, greed is considerably more subtle than we allow: I cannot give to another because I don’t have enough yet.

Our response to greed is gratitude, which is about seeing how much we do have.  Not only in bank accounts but in friendships and family and in the things around which we enjoy for free.  What we’re beginning to see is how we really live in a universe of abundance.  Parker Palmer spoke about abundance being an expression of community.

When we see what we have rather than what we have not, we’re moving towards wholeness.  Brené Brown calls this “enough-ness.”  Just as integrity is not about perfection, wholeness is not about completion.  Gratitude acts like the gold- and silver-infused resins used in the Japanese art of kintsugi, making repaired ceramics even more beautiful than they were originally.  Wholeness is generative, as integrity is in the quest for honour, able to make far more than the separate elements might suggest.

We are able to give to others because generosity isn’t what we do so much as it is who we are becoming.

SOMETHING TO DO: The four points in this journey – Greed, Gratitude, Wholeness, Generosity – relate to what we have mentioned as autopilot (greed), opening the mind (gratitude), opening the heart (wholeness), and, opening the will (generosity).  Where do you feel yourself to be on this journey and what is your evidence?

The Gift by Lewis Hyde
Helping by Edgar Schein
Nipun Mehta’s TEDtalk Designing for Generosity


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