Ideally, the year-end vacation season is a time for reflection, gathering indoors, and spending high quality time with our family members. But it may be arduous to disregard the relentless slew of vacation advertising, assuring us that one of the simplest ways to convey our affection is to purchase, purchase, purchase. In most Buddhist traditions, the winter solstice just isn’t a time for presents wrapped in paper with huge bows on prime. While there are Buddhist cultures with gift-giving conventions—similar to in Japanese etiquette—the apply of donating alms or choices is far more widespread. But for these of us residing within the West, ’tis the season for buying and selling tokens of gratitude. So how can we give presents in a Buddhist method?
An article in Tricycle’s Winter 2007 subject, “Gifts That Keep Giving” by Joan Duncan Oliver, offers a solution: give compassionately. Oliver means that we buy presents which can be ethically sourced, environmentally aware, and assist somebody in want—in different phrases, they relieve struggling as an alternative of making it.
One method is to present to a charity in another person’s identify, and there are various wonderful organizations to select from (see under). But for these instances after we’re anticipated at hand out presents (on the annual workplace Secret Santa, for example), here’s a number of methods to present within the Buddhist spirit.
Buy Nothing and Give More
Do you might have any home items accumulating mud in a closet that would higher serve another person? Or, do you end up in want of one thing final minute, say an additional eating chair for company or some mushy bananas for banana bread? Consider becoming a member of a Buy Nothing neighborhood, a global community of native gifting teams that provides folks a technique to give and obtain, share, lend, and specific gratitude for his or her neighbors. With over 4 million members and almost seven thousand regional Buy Nothing communities, the challenge has attracted many attributable to its easy however efficient rule: every little thing should be given freely. This vacation season, the challenge encourages folks to present and ask from others of their native communities as an alternative of shopping for presents. You can discover your native Buy Nothing group on the brand new BuyNothing app or by means of the challenge’s checklist of Facebook teams. And you’ll be able to learn extra about Buy Nothing right here, within the Summer 2022 subject of Tricycle journal.
For quite a lot of moral procuring wants, go to the web retailer Ten Thousand Villages, which as its identify implies, gives ethically sourced crafts from growing nations all over the world. The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit’s mission is to supply their artisans with honest, residing wages and secure work situations in addition to to advertise energy-efficient practices and the usage of native and recycled supplies. The group, one of many oldest and largest fair-trade teams, began in 1946 and was based mostly on the Mennonite rules of its founder, Edna Ruth Byler, however its store consists of a number of items from Buddhist traditions. Check out its number of singing bowls from Nepalese artists or choose up a patchwork meditation cushion made by feminine artisans in Vietnam. Or for non-Buddhist recipients, browse their number of jewellery, dwelling items, and different handicrafts.
The Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP) is a extra Buddhist-oriented different for handmade crafts. Known for his or her Sponsor a Nun program, TNP was created to assist refugee nuns coming to India from Tibet, however it has expanded to “provide food, shelter, education, and health care to over 700 nuns of all traditions,” the group says. Their on-line store helps these efforts by promoting baggage, malas, prayer flags, and different crafts which can be made and blessed by nuns. You can even buy pujas [prayers and rituals], which could be dedicate to a liked one.
Words to the Wise
For ebook lovers, there are quite a lot of choices to select from. Three of the biggest publishers of Buddhist literature, Wisdom Publications, Shambhala Publications, and Sounds True, all boast environmental initiatives, and Wisdom’s Books for Prisoners applications and Sounds True’s Prison Library Project make Buddhist sources out there to incarcerated populations. Need a ebook suggestion? Check out what we’re studying and our checklist of beneficial Buddhist books for learners.
Here are three new books to get you began:
- New version of Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh by Thich Nhat Hanh. First printed in 1993 and reissued this yr with a foreword by Buddhist poet Ocean Vuong, Call Me By My True Names is a set of over 100 poems by the late Vietnamese Zen grasp.
- Let Your Light Shine: How Mindfulness Can Empower Children and Rebuild Communities by Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez. In this ebook, Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez of the Holistic Life Foundation share how mindfulness instruments may help at-risk kids and communities not solely survive however thrive. They additionally train the Tricycle on-line course Mindfulness for Kids and Parents to assist households be comfortable and calm.
- The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Maté. Author and doctor Gabor Maté helps readers perceive private struggling—each bodily and emotional—and the roots and impacts of trauma. By drawing connections between the thoughts, physique, and setting, Maté exhibits a pathway to therapeutic by treating the entire being.
If you’re in search of a ebook with a youthful reader in thoughts, here’s a number of Buddhist kids’s books to think about:
Presents for Presence
One technique to assist the dharma along with your presents is to purchase from retailers that assist fund meditation facilities. Right livelihood is the guideline of the Monastery Store. The store, which sells provides for Buddhist apply, is staffed by residents and volunteers on the upstate New York-based Zen Mountain Monastery, the place they’re skilled in “work practice” or “sacred labor” as a part of the Mountains and Rivers Order based by the late American Zen instructor John Daido Loori. The retailer additionally places an emphasis on accountable environmental practices. Try the buckwheat zafu, or meditation seat, and their plush “bodhi seat” zabuton, which one former editor praised for serving to him overcome the tendency for his left leg to go to sleep whereas sitting. They even have an exquisite number of low-smoke incense for individuals who need to preserve an altar with a delicate nostril. But for presents outdoors of the Zen custom, buyers might want to look elsewhere.
The Namse Bangdzo bookstore on the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) in Woodstock, New York, additionally carries shrine and apply provides, together with meditation cushions, malas, and incense, in addition to gadgets which can be particular to Tibetan Buddhism and is likely to be tougher to search out, similar to a bumpa ritual vase or a kapala, or skullcup, utilized in some Vajrayana practices.
Tea and Sympathy
Tea has been a image of enlightenment ever since Ninth-century Zen grasp Joshu informed his college students, “Go drink tea!” But whereas there are all kinds of fair-trade tea sellers to select from, together with a few of the larger distributors, many tea farmers all over the world proceed to be exploited and abused. A 2015 BBC report uncovered widespread abuses by British tea corporations in India, though these corporations claimed to have improved situations. The group Ethical Consumer, which ranks UK-based tea suppliers, recommends that along with in search of honest commerce and natural certification, patrons choose single-source teas over blends, that are tougher to hint, and go for free tea over baggage, that are hardly ever constituted of sustainable supplies.
Mellow Monk solely sells single property tea from Japan’s Kumamoto area and locations additional emphasis on being eco-friendly. Through the micro-lending web site Kiva, in addition they assist small farms within the space. For a broader vary of tea choices, the Oregon-based Strand Tea Company guarantees sustainable fair-trade practices and likewise donates proceeds to charities, together with tiger conservation efforts in Tamil Nadu, India, and its native chapter of the League of Women’s Voters.
For some recipe concepts, you’ll be able to try Zen instructor Bo-Mi Choi’s information to Korean tea cures.
When wrapping your reward, take into account options to wasteful paper and scotch tape. One different is the Japanese methodology of wrapping presents in reusable cloths known as furoshiki (which accurately interprets to “bathmat” from its origins as a technique to wrap up gadgets at bathhouses). You can spend hours wanting up other ways to tie the colourful wraps, which turn into a part of the reward itself. If crafts aren’t your factor, reusable reward or tote baggage are one other nice choice.
Or you’ll be able to wrap your reward in a shawl, including one other seasonable reward. You should purchase Tibetan yak-yarn scarves from the mYak for Social Good assortment, which donates its proceeds to a cell library challenge on the Tibetan Plateau that brings books to kids in 50 villages.
Perhaps your family members have given up their attachment to materials issues—or have a tough sufficient time discovering room for the stuff they have already got—however you continue to need to allow them to know you might be pondering of them. Donating to a charity of their identify could be the proper reward, and a few folks would possibly even request it. While there are various worthy charities, here’s a number of some notable initiatives:
- The Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation offers humanitarian assist to susceptible people, households, and communities. Since February 2022, Tzu Chi has supplied assist to Ukrainian refugees in Poland fleeing the struggle.
- The Jamyang Foundation aids nuns in probably the most distant components of the Himalayas.
- Nangchen Nuns helps Tsoknyi lineage nuns in Eastern Tibet.
- Ayya Yeshe’s Bodhicitta Foundation offers job coaching and schooling to ladies and kids in India.
- Live to Love empowers the folks of the Himalayas by means of initiatives in gender equality, schooling, animal care, and catastrophe reduction.
- Lotus Outreach helps younger ladies in India and Cambodia.
- The Lineage Project teaches aware motion, meditation, breathwork, and aware conversations to susceptible younger folks in New York City. You can learn an interview with the group’s govt director right here.
- Pete’s Place is an interfaith homeless shelter in Sante Fe, New Mexico. You can discover out about their work in this essay by a volunteer from Upaya Zen Center.
- Buddhist Global Relief, based by Buddhist instructor and translator Bhikku Bodhi, seeks to fight persistent starvation and malnutrition worldwide by means of direct meals reduction, schooling initiatives, and selling sustainable meals manufacturing.
- Each yr, The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund helps 9 organizations that present assist for these in want.
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