Nothing to Give: Giving it All


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Rehn's picture

What is most important to you—

     well that’s the problem.

--Rehn's picture

Greetings from a midwest dragon hall.   So nice to  see you so happy.  

bodies of water

dragons offer warmhearted 

trust in this moment



Bonnie Treace's picture

Many bows…

Philip Ryan's picture

I read this in Dogen while waiting for the subway and immediately thought of this teaching: "To launch a boat or build a bridge is an act of giving. If you study closely, you see that to accept a body and give up the body are both giving. Making a living and producing things can be nothing other than giving. To leave flowers to the wind, to leave birds to the season, are also acts of giving." These past few days I've really felt like I've had nothing to give. At every interaction I seem to be taking. I need to turn my head around!

Bonnie Treace's picture

Gassho Phil, 

Dogen in the subway…thank you for your practice…

and the quality of honest reflection in your post…Its so true how in language there are two senses of "having nothing to give"—the all-too familiar, exhausted sense, and the state where there is no one apart from things or others, and intimacy just functions and flows…making a kind of wonderful nonsense of self and other, offering and receiving.

 Often, I think, we underestimate the subtlety of exhausting the identity of being "the giving one." To  drop through language and ideas we construct as a buffer around what's real to the vitality of intimate life is both completely natural and, well, absolutely disorienting.  That's part of Dogen's brilliance, don't you find, the way he pushes and pushes language until we actually don't know what's going on, and then, as if the body has shifted to another way of reading, there's a sense of breaking through.

All that said, I'm with you in that taste of being given way, way more than I know I'm giving. Here's a visual teaching along the same lines that you might enjoy on your next subway ride (especially if it's still so very hot in NYC:

Runningstream's picture

Dear Myotai,

I embraced your beautiful talk.   Thankyou, I used to live close to a creek, I was sick and 

going for a walk was a challenge, I always made it my goal to walk to the edge of the creek and let the water teach me and speak with it, the sound of it rushing by could be heard from my home, it comforted me greatly.  I no longer live there but it made a deep impact in my life. 

Why do you say poems are stupid?  Words hold a certain power, your words touched me so I do not understand this comment;



Bonnie Treace's picture

Dear Runningstream,

That absent creek of memory…

careful cowboy:  good water goes stale  

if so full of yesterday

the man gone old poem stupified  

sits dull 

while flash tap rain comes


That's all proposed: 

might fresh meet fresh

whoa! now then who's to say where

creek and raindrop

part in time…



I hope that you're feeling well now, R, and am grateful for the sound of the rushing water you bring.

Hope my quick dash poem helps indicate the limited sense in which I offer recognition that poetry and stories are "stupid"— anything becomes dulling of natural vitality when imbibed/carried forward beyond the expiration date, if you will. Like Oscar Wilde, "I have a great fondness for stupidity," and am a disciple of the poem, as I sense you may be as well. Striking the balance between being comforted and being awake: that's always the key, isn't it?


Bonnie Treace's picture

Hello Kyomon, 

Good to be together here, yes. I hope this way of meeting, after these last two years of health bumpiness, may bring together new and old sangha, in old and new ways. I was reading some encouragement in The Sun for brave, revealing writing this morning, and in it there was that wonderful line from Viktor Frankl: "What is to give light must endure burning." That's the leap — to offer not just the best, but the moment that has broken, and maybe opened, our hearts. 

Bows back,


kyomon's picture


Thanks for your teaching. It's good to see/hear you again.

Many bows,