About a month or so ago, a couple friends came to visit for a few days. Like many participants who come through this space, ST & K are city folks who are used to having lights at the flip of a switch. Interestingly, ST, with his usual sense of humour described the house as something like an ‘old and torn temple’（破庙). Despite that, they both very quickly felt at home and comfortable in such a basic and simple space.
Together, the 5 of us, including Magic, spent the next 5 days doing some weeding, repairing of tools, harvesting, shared cooking methods and practices, visiting markets and friends in the area, practising meditation, the usual simple life we lead here in the village… and watching The Matrix 1 & 2 in the ‘old and torn temple’ and having interesting bilingual conversations on many things about life… basically co-creating space for taking care of one another.
Time flew by and there are so much more nourishing and nurturing energies that can be shared. When we sent them off in the bus, ST said he left something for us under the pillow. I came back and found a red packet. Thanks to the generous monetary contribution by ST & K, we put some energy into installing the lights and power points in the mud house.
Generous not because the sum was big, although it was a substantial boost of energy that brought about this next stage of growth to the space. ST & K are not from any wealthy family, nor are they drawing a salary or making money with a job – they are full-time Dhamma servers who live on a nominal stipend in the Dhamma center. And generous because it was totally unexpected, and given entirely out of goodwill and consideration of what it might take to create this space, and because they can and want to share. I remember reading somewhere that real generosity is the openness to give freely, and it does not matter how much you have, and it’s not just about giving money, but more importantly to spend time, share goodwill, food, smiles, hugs etc. Money is just one form of energy that we can circulate, and ultimately it works only because as a society we agree to the use of this currency. In and of itself, money has no intrinsic value, unlike relationships and other essential goods.
Since I’ve come to this path trying to figure out a simple & conscious way of living, facilitating the coming into being of the Garden of L.E.A.H., and opening up the space for participation and co-creation in the past year or so, I’ve learnt many lessons from the people and situations I’ve encountered. For every person who exploit our hospitality, there are more who bring life and goodwill into co-creating this space. Through this process I’ve also come to discover what real wealth might or could be, and it certainly has nothing to do with a bank account.
I feel really blessed and in abundance, to be a part of the circulation of energies that flow freely from the heart, from genuine care and giving, and not from any transaction. There isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t receive a gift or two from the community, be it a bunch of fruits or a snack here and there. And there isn’t a week that goes by where there is not an opportunity to share the abundance of bananas, or time, or smiles, or heartfelt ‘how are you’ or deep sharing and listening with somebody. Just yesterday I distributed the abundance of bananas to a few neighbours without expecting anything back, but somehow knowing that the natural circulation of energies happen in non-linear and complex ways so whatever goes around, comes around. So many times we have come home to find some seasonal fruits or other on our table, sometimes we learn later who brought them, sometimes we don’t.
As I continue to navigate this so called ‘alternative’ way of simple living in a ‘modern’ society stuck in the old narrative, I feel grateful and blessed to be guided by the Universe and have the opportunities to meet every single person I come across and learn from the encounters. I truly believe in our ‘interbeing-ness’ (ala Thich Nhat Hanh), and know that we can live a content and prosperous life with a Gift Economy, and that we are at the time of evolution when it’s time to write a new story together; a new story of Love, Kindness, Compassion, Connection, Sharing, Empathy, Peace, Inspirations, Contentment, Joy and Abundance.
Text by Vivian Lee, initiator & activator of Garden of L.E.A.H.