Monthly Archives: December 2011

Can Giving a Gift Land You in Debt?

GiftThe custom of gift-giving is one that is missing in the United States, even as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. Why? Gift-giving in other cultures does not stem from a capitalistic commercialism, but rather from the spiritual interaction between a gift giver and a recipient. It has less to do with what you give, and more to do with how you give and to whom you give. It is a practice of cultivating a generosity of spirit that includes rightful action to a community.

Dana

In Buddhist philosophy, dana was the spiritual practice of giving that helped to reduce the imperfection of greed in a person and improve their karmic score. Hindus give dana and have very elaborate rituals over what type of gifts will produce what type of karmic benefits. Give a gift of sesame seed to a temple and you get a karmic bonus of fertility. Beyond giving a gift, the recipient also has certain obligations. They must respect the act of the giving as a sacred act, just as the recipient offers it in that same attitude. If the gift is not respected, it is said to lead to the downfall of both the giver and the recipient. Also, giving certain types of gifts actually boomerang on you karmically, rather than raising your karmic score.

It is also suggested that you should not give gifts to people who are not in your spiritual lineage. Some traditions say certain people can only receive gifts. I’ve even heard of other teachings where women must always give, but never take. In Hindu gift-giving one should try to seek out Brahmins to gift as the act is considered “rightful giving” and reaps many spiritual benefits, unlike giving to someone who uses the gift but returns no spiritual teachings to a community. Obviously, I’m not here to argue over whether these traditions are correct or not. I am just suggesting that the act of giving is intrinsic to spiritual wealth, but it comes with some responsibilities. It also has to do with why so many people land into debt.

Generosity

There are supposedly five stages in the Buddist practice of dana. In the conditional giving stage, you give something because you expect something in return. That is not considered bad, but merely somewhat ignorant. You are expected to do this practice until you can give without expecting anything in return. In America, this amounts to our ideal of “earning one’s wage” or even a fair business transaction. It is tied into our beliefs about integrity and work. We expect that everything we work at will yield some result. However, that’s just not realistic. There are plenty of hard workers that never get the fruits of their labor, for various reasons. I am not about to dump more on them to suggest that they have bad karma either. There are plenty of people who give of their time and efforts working for companies that destroy our environment, steal from people with usurious interest rates, and generally have unethical business practices. And, they make a fortune at it while they’re doing it. I’m not going to suggest they are due bad karma either for doing it. For one thing, this type of teaching has no effect on people who willfully sow bad seeds and it does nothing to help those that have sown good seed, but failed to reap a harvest. Thus, for me at least, gift-giving is not about bettering my karmic odds at all.

Maybe I’m a Miser

I admit that I have no patience for a consumerist Christmas, whether it is giving out tons of presents or sending out Christmas cards. The earth is not going to jump up and down for joy because several forests were decimated over the practice of giving out Christmas cards. I don’t like the unspoken obligation that stems from our puritanical roots that when you get a gift, you’re supposed to give one in return. For one thing, some families have no understanding that the annual Christmas-giving frenzy is a horror for single individuals, with or without children. One family of four (a couple and two children) can give one present of high worth to one individual, but the expectation is that that individual should give back four presents of similar worth each because “the kids are too little to give.” This is despite the economic inequality of that family earning twice as much as the individual that is now responsible for four “gifts” of similar value. In a commercial and “equitable” way of looking at things, the gift recipient is a miser for not giving gifts to everyone on Christmas of similar worth. In a spiritual sense, the GIVER is the one committing a sin against the sacred act of gift-giving. Regardless, that gift-giving act then becomes something that puts both people in debt. The kindest thing one can do then is to opt out of this madness.

Proper Gift-Giving

Do I know what the proper way is to give a gift or receive one? I really don’t think our American culture has an inkling about that. It is something we need to learn from Asian or other similar gift-giving cultures. I know that I have plenty to learn in this area. For one, I have learned over the years that it is not proper to give for altruistic reasons alone. One MUST consider how the gift will be used and who is getting it. I suppose that’s rather judgmental of me, but I consider a gift given to a stranger of far more value than one given to someone who will feel obligated to return something to me. I consider my time at work a gift and that means that sometimes I don’t give as freely in some projects that I consider will produce a negative community result or uphold ideals that will bring down the company or harm others – despite them being framed in altruistic terms. On the other hand, sometimes I give way more than is expected because I know it will be of benefit to others, even when it is framed in commercial terms. In this respect, I do not believe giving one’s life in a fruitless war is appropriate gift-giving unless it is to defend a nation’s peoples. Similarly, some people who work in companies that are unethical are there to plant good seeds in a field full of thorns. You really can’t tell the wheat from the tares until it’s time for the harvest. You might think that an individual or company that gives lots of money to a specific cause is generous and altruistic, but later you find out that they are trying to “greenwash” themselves to fool buyers into trusting their brand. They may give with the right hand a little and take back way more with the left hand – causing tremendous damage to the community all for the sake of hidden greed.

For instance, the IMF has been accused of giving loans to struggling countries only to later use those loans to bankrupt and take over an area. This trickles down to farmers losing needed credit to farm their lands and losing a heritage that might have been in their family for generations. The bank takes the lands and it is not even worked or harvested. It is used to amass wealth and control territory and gain political power by buying politicians. That same land may end up being “gifted” to people in support of the corrupt political system as a thank you for their support. This is a prime example of gift-giving at its worst and the giver and the recipient land both in debt. Ultimately, I think that if we figure out the proper attitude towards gift-giving we may be able to heal what is wrong with our capitalistic system. After all, how many experts have said for years that we are headed for a “gift economy”? Yet, we still have no idea what the proper way is to give and take in a responsible fashion that does not harm others and creates abundance for the community.

How a Person of Integrity Gives a Gift

These five are a person of integrity’s gifts. Which five? A person of integrity gives a gift with a sense of conviction. A person of integrity gives a gift attentively. A person of integrity gives a gift in season. A person of integrity gives a gift with an empathetic heart. A person of integrity gives a gift without adversely affecting himself or others. – http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.148.than.html

*This is the first part in a series I am going to be doing on gift-giving and the gift economy.

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Can We Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell?

24World-Renowned Speakers Come Together for the 7 Graces Telesummit

In February 2008, at the start of the global economic recession, Lynn Serafinn’s television blew up. Six months after she made the decision not to replace it, as she watched everyone around her become more and more stressed about their finances, she suddenly realised she shared none of their anxieties. In fact, she realised her spending had gone down, and that her financial situation had actually improved. She began to wonder if there was a connection between this and the fact that she was no longer consuming a daily dose of the nightly news and television advertising.

It was then that Lynn started asking the question, “Is marketing making us ILL?” And by marketing, she included anything that was in the business of “selling ideas,” including politics and the nightly news.

This began a two-year journey for Lynn, as she researched and wrote her new book, The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell. She wanted to discover the unspoken marketing mechanisms that were making our society, our economy and our environment ill. But most of all, she wanted to discover how we human beings could create a new paradigm for marketing, business and living that could heal both humanity and the planet.

And now, Lynn’s ground-breaking book The 7 Graces of Marketing is finally coming to Amazon and all major retailers on December 13th, 2011.

To celebrate the launch of The 7 Graces of Marketing, an illustrious panel of 24 of the world’s leading minds are coming together to discuss how we can bring back ethics and values into business and marketing, so we can start the change the world together at:

The 7 Graces of Marketing Telesummit

A FREE 7-Part Online Happening!

December 6th-9th, 2011

Register FR*EE at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/free-telesummit

Over the course of four days, you will hear seven dynamic 90-minute discussions on the “7 Deadly Sins” of marketing and their corresponding “7 Graces” from Lynn’s book:

  • Part 1: Disconnection vs. Connection
  • Part 2: Persuasion vs. Inspiration
  • Part 3: Invasion vs. Invitation
  • Part 4: Distraction vs. Directness
  • Part 5: Deception vs. Transparency
  • Part 6: Deception vs. Transparency
  • Part 7: Competition vs. Collaboration

And take a look at this fabulous panel of guest speakers:

1. Joe Vitale – world-renowned media guest; appeared in the film The Secret; bestselling author of The Attractor Factor and dozens more

2. Greg S. Reid – Film maker, speaker, bestselling author of Think and Grow Rich: Three Feet from Gold and many others

3. Eric Pearl – World renowned energy healer, Founder of The Reconnection; author of  The Reconnection: Heal Others, Heal Yourself

4. Dan Hollings – mobile marketing expert; the brains behind the marketing campaign for the film The Secret

5. Pamela Slim – Award-winning author of Escape From Cubicle Nation; speaker; media expert

6. Liz Goodgold – Branding expert, author of Red Fire Branding and DUH! Marketing

7. Allison Maslan – Life and Business Mentor; founder of 9 successful businesses; bestselling author of Blast Off!

8. Suzanne Falter-Barnes – Business and Marketing coach; Co-founder of The Spiritual Marketing Quest

9. Tad Hargrave – Founder of Marketing for Hippies

10. Richard S. Gallagher – Communications skills expert; bestselling author of What to Say to a Porcupine and How to Tell Anyone Anything

11. Ward Vandorpe – International marketer; Founder of Expert Marketeer

12. Misa Hopkins – Consultant, author of The Root of All Healing; Spiritual Director of the New Dream Foundation

13. Barbara Altemus – Producer of The Calling; author of The Gift of Pain

14. Andrea Conway – Attraction Marketing Coach, marketing executive

15. Renee Baribeau – “The Practical Shaman;” Director of Desert Holistic Network

16. Renee Duran – Graphic designer; web developer; former advertising art/creative director; designed the book cover of The 7 Graces of Marketing

17. Michael Drew – Book marketer; speaker; Founder of Promote a Book

18. Jeffrey Van Dyk – Business and Marketing Coach; Co-founder of The Spiritual Marketing Quest 1

19. Chris Arnold – Award-winning creative innovator; expert in ethical marketing; author of Ethical Marketing and the New Consumer

20. Kate Osborne – PR at Solarus Foundation; resident author for More To Life Magazine; former editor of Kindred Spirit Magazine

21. Tanya Paluso – Empowerment mentor; community leader; Leader of Tribal Truths

22. Shelagh Jones – marketer and Founder of Spiritus Spiritual Marketing Directory

23. Paula Tarrant – Transformation and Transition Coach; Founder of Inspired Women Work

24. And, of course, Lynn Serafinn, author of The 7 Graces of Marketing

This special 7-part telesummit is Lynn’s FREE gift to you, to celebrate the launch of her book, which is coming Tuesday December 13th, 2011.

Register at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/free-telesummit

During the broadcast, Lynn be telling you how you can receive a complete library of beautiful free gifts, kindly offered by dozens of her friends and colleagues, when you buy The 7 Graces of Marketing in paperback or Kindle from Amazon on December 13th. AND when you buy the book on the day of the launch, Lynn will also give you the complete set of MP3 downloads—that’s 10 hours of content-rich audio from 24 international thought leaders—absolutely free. And as a special gift, Lynn is also offering a full 1-year membership to her new 7 Graces Global Community starting in 2012, where you will be invited to hear exclusive interviews with thought leaders throughout the year, so we can all work together to shift the paradigm of business and marketing. If you can’t make the live event, do register anyway, because Lynn will send you the links to listen to the audio playback. This is a topic that is so needed in this transitional point in our history, this event promises to be THE online event of 2011. I hope you will join us online on December 6th-9th.

Again, the link to register free is http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/free-telesummit