I nipped this off 'superheros' site today and posted it here because I liked these thoughts very much.......
it is customary for the monks to wake up every morning around 4am, collect their alms bowls and set out into the community to receive whatever offerings they get. Some rice here, some curry there, they graciously accept whatever they are given.
What I found interesting is that the monks never actually ate what was placed in their bowls. They accepted it graciously, but had plenty of food back at the monastery. This tradition was kept alive for one reason and one reason alone- to give their community the experience of giving.
So who is really giving to whom? Or as Aretha Franklin says, Who's zoomin who?
Only after I heard this story did I realize that I do this instinctively with my parents. They may offer advice or a story (one that perhaps I have heard many times before!) but I let them tell me afresh because I know how important it is to be able to give.
Or do you remember that feeling when your mom gives you a gift and you know that in a million years of hell freezing over you will never wear it? But in that split second you imagine her carefully picking it out and spending her hard-earned dollars and you just know in your bones that the right thing to do is to exclaim, "Oh thank you! It's beautiful!" We do this because we want her to experience the joy of giving and we know instinctively that receiving is the only way to keep the whole machine working.
To receive graciously is giving a gift. To give graciously is really receiving a gift.A funny little paradox.
I suppose if we follow the wisdom of the Buddhist monks, one of the greatest gifts we can give is to bow and say thank you.