Help and love

“I love my team at work and my family back home. I do so much for them. But I don’t get back much from them. People are thankless. So I decided I won’t do anything for them henceforth” said a coachee recently.

The love that he described is egoic love.

You help me, I help you.

I help you, you thank me.

You make me happy, I make you happy.

And when that doesn’t happen, I will cut off.

This also manifests in different other forms like something is wrong with the world. Or something is missing in my life. Or (s)he is conspiring against me. There is egoic insufficiency.

True love goes beyond all this. It is much deeper. It happens when the attachment to others goes. You do stuff because you love doing it. You help because you love doing so. Not because you expect anything in return.

It’s magical. Try it out, if you haven’t.

Photo by J W on Unsplash

Love and Devotion

“I am devoted to my family and my work. But what I get in return often in both places is sadness”, said a coachee recently.

The usage of the word devotion this way immediately reminded me of J. Krishnamurti’s words:

“Love is different from devotion. When you are devoted to some god, to some temple, to some ideals, to some country, behind that there is a motive, which is an exchange, I give you this and you return me that. That’s why you go to the temples, or you go to your gurus. It is an exchange. Love has no motive. It doesn’t ask anything.”

Do you love your family? Do you love your job? Or are you devoted to them?

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash


Giving leads to a shift in the being of both the giver and the receiver.  

You can give in many ways. Out of obligation. Out of sympathy. In exchange for something. We typically expect something in return; at least the recipient to be grateful.  

What can you give? When should you give? What can you expect in return?  

Here is some wisdom from across the ages:    

What can I give?  

“What you are, give that;

what you have, give that,

and your gift will be perfect …

it is not by the quantity or the quality that it is measured:

it is by the sincerity of the giving and the absoluteness of the giving.”  

– The Mother

“dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ dīyate ‘nupakāriṇe

deśhe kāle cha pātre cha tad dānaṁ sāttvikaṁ smṛitam”  

Charity given to a worthy person simply because it is right to give, without consideration of anything in return, at the proper time and in the proper place, is stated to be in the mode of goodness.”  

– Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 20

What if I am unable to give money or any material thing?  

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.  

For what are your possessions

but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring

to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand

as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?  

And what is fear of need but need itself?

Is not dread of thirst

when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?”  

– Kahlil Gibran  

When should I give?  

“It is well to give when asked,

but it is better to give unasked,

through understanding;

And to the open-handed

the search for one who shall receive

is joy greater than giving.

And is there aught you would withhold?  

All you have shall some day be given;

Therefore give now,

that the season of giving may be yours

and not your inheritors’.  

– Kahlil Gibran    

Who should I give to?  

“You often say,

I would give, but only to the deserving.

The trees in your orchard say not so,

nor the flocks in your pasture.

They give that they may live,

for to withhold is to perish.  

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights,

is worthy of all else from you.

And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life

deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

And what desert greater shall there be,

than that which lies in the courage and the confidence,

nay the charity, of receiving?  

– Kahlil Gibran  

What do I get by giving?  

“There are those who give little of the much which they have

and they give it for recognition

and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.  

And there are those who have little and give it all.

These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,

and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy,

and that joy is their reward.  

And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride,

that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?

See first that you yourself

deserve to be a giver,

and an instrument of giving.  

For in truth it is life that gives unto life

while you, who deem yourself a giver,

are but a witness.”  

– Kahlil Gibran    

Image: Photo by Ales Me on Unsplash

For further reading:

1) “Collected works of Mother“, Sri Aurobindo Ashram

2) “The Complete Works of Kahlil Gibran

3) The Bhagavad Gita