Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I just heard that anthropologists are fond of reminding us that reciprocity is essential to gift-giving. You have to give something back, in other words.

You know, I don't think so.

In the ego's world, it's essential. In the free world, has no relevance at all.

A friend of mine (Hi Carsten) once said something very wise, on the subject of help, not gifts, but surely related:

"If you have to somebody back when they have helped you, then it's not help, then it's just business."

In the wonderful movie As Good As It Gets, the Helen Hunt character, who has gotten very big help from the Jack Nicholson character, asks him after he asks for a big favor: "are you saying accepting your help obligates me?" And he says: "I don't think there's any other way of seeing it."

I'm sure he doesn't. And the character, brilliantly played by Nicholson, is a highly neurotic person and deep in the ego's world, although he has love (and literary talent) which is clearly working its way out.

1 comment:

Greg Olinyk said...

I agree that if you feel you HAVE to give something back it feels more like a transaction but WANTING to give something back is divine.

There is a difference between a debt and a favor. While it is nice, even divine, to be able to forgive a debt, such forgiveness should be reciprocated if possible because it's the decent thing to do and because karma, not the giver, requires it. To not do so puts a tear in the karmic universe.

"Remember, the only people that you should ever try to get even with are those who have helped you."
Todd Wheeler