There's a charming Zen story about a rich merchant who decided to donate a large sum of money to a Zen master who needed a larger school. The master accepted the money without a thank you, almost as if he were doing the merchant a favor. This irritated the merchant, who informed the master in no uncertain terms that he was giving him a very generous gift.

"Do you want me to thank you for it?" asked the master.

"You certainly should," replied the merchant.

"Why?" countered the master. "The giver should be thankful."

The angels love this story, for they are total givers whose thanks come in the form of our joy and newfound wisdom. They want us to give in the same spirit not expecting thanks but being grateful for the chance to exercise the virtue of generosity and to witness the joy we bring to others.

When you give, do you expect thanks? Acknowledging a gift is the decent and mannerly thing to do, of course, but our Zen master was not being boorish; he was testing the merchant to see in what spirit his gift was given. The next time you give something, detach yourself from the need to receive thanks, and give thanks instead for the opportunity to return to the universe a fraction of what it has given to you.

An Angelic Reflection: I delight in the process of giving.

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