Scrooge’s nephew Fred gives Scrooge and us, the audience, a lovely Dharma talk on generosity when he says:
But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time…. as a good time;
a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time:
the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year,
when men and women seem by one consent
to open their shut-up hearts freely,
and to think of people below them
as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave,
and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
And therefore, uncle,
though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,
I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good;
and I say, God bless it!”
Compare Fred’s sentiment to something the Buddha said.
“Think not lightly of goodness,
‘It will not come back to me’,
for by the falling of water drops
a jar is filled.
The wise fill themselves with goodness,
as they soak it up little by little.”
We are not talking here about being good, but about doing good in hundreds of tiny ways as we go about our daily life. The Metta Sutta on Loving-Kindness begins with a list of skills to engender our own goodness. Yes, skills. Goodness is a skill that we can learn. Here’s the list of skills that we can develop.
This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who seeks the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Choose just one of these skills–or sometimes i will take a pair–and contemplate them throughout the day.
Drop by drop, moment by moment, we re-wire our own neural networks with goodness.