You will remember that we spoke of giving something to those around us in a spirit of consideration as “giving,” or “donation.”
We also spoke of the seven types of kind acts, the Seven Non-material Types of Giving.
One of these is the good seed of Giving through the Body.
Giving through the Body means to serve those around us by using our bodies.
One could call it a kind of volunteer activity.
Hearing the word “volunteer,” some readers may think of the essential activities carried on at the time of the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake—for instance, taking time off from work to go to the affected areas or giving up holidays and spending them there, caring for the elderly— and decide, “That’s impossible for me!”
But if we develop even a little sense of consideration for others, it won’t be a question of “I can’t do anything!”: we will realize that we all can make our environment a brighter, kinder place.
For example, if we are walking alongside an elderly person, we can carry their bags for them and casually switch places with them so that we are walking on the outside, closer to traffic, thereby expressing our consideration for them through the body.
Other examples of Giving through the Body would be throwing out the trash that has accumulated in home or office, putting a messy desk in order, and taking the initiative to go and buy everyday necessary articles and supplies.
By willingly doing these things, which are often ignored as being too much trouble, or left to others to do, you will find you learn many things.
First of all, you will begin to appreciate the trouble that people around you have been taking, which you had not previously noticed.
At home, you will realize the effort it takes to make sure that toilet paper, for example, does not run out and that there is always a fresh supply.
This will lead you to an awareness of the many things family members do for you and a consequent sense of gratitude.
And at the office, the same holds true for replacement of necessary supplies.
You will develop an awareness of the trouble other employees have gone to: “I’ve been using these without thinking about those who always make sure we have enough.”
Realizing the trouble those around you are taking, but which you have not noticed before, leads to a feeling of gratitude, and this in turn will lead to a gradual improvement in your human relationships.
And as you naturally begin to take on the miscellaneous duties that don’t require any particular skill, those around you will think, “He’s a humble person,” “She’s modest about herself,” “He doesn’t spare himself trouble,” or “She’s a fine person,” and come to respect you all the more.
Among the Seven Types of Non-material Giving there is also a kindness called Giving Place to Others.
“Giving place” means allowing others to go first.
Rather than quarreling with someone else because you want to go first, or take the advantage in a situation, you should give way—things will go far more pleasantly and smoothly if you do.
When I was a child, I often quarreled with my younger brother over which television channel to watch. It often happened that we couldn’t agree, and I would change the channel by using physical force.
Then my little brother would make a point of crying and screaming loudly right there—he was getting back at me out of frustration at what I’d done.
And I would stubbornly keep on watching the program right beside my screaming younger brother, using headphones to shut out the noise; but of course I took no pleasure in the program I was watching.
I’m sure it would have been much more enjoyable simply to let my brother watch the program of his choice and watch along with him.
Now it all seems laughable, but I have the impression that there are quite a few adults who do the same kind of thing even now.
Department heads who bicker over who gets to sit at the head of the table at a company party or meal.
People who try to pull the microphone from someone else’s hands, insisting, “Now it’s my turn!”
Drivers who, determined not to let anybody else in front of them, leave no space between their car and the one in front.
People who, hearing that there might be a shortage, buy up as much water and other beverages as possible, in advance . . .
At times like these, to say “Go ahead, please,” and give way to others is to practice Giving Place to Others.
By acting in this way, and not trying to force others to give way to you, you will know you have done a good deed and be able to spend the whole day in a refreshed and happy state of mind.