Last year, Hubby and I went to a conference in San Antonio. I think we spent more time looking through all of the vendor booths than we did listening to conference speakers (oops). I don't remember why Charles ended up at the booth of this author and I didn't (I was probably exclaiming over some "pretties"), but my husband came back with two of the very same book. I thought that on our budget that was a little excessive. Turns out the guy was either giving them away or nearly giving them away. Suspiciously I wondered why he didn't value them more than that (not in my most generous frame of mind at that time). Charles was excited though. He had had a great conversation with the author and both books were autographed. We tossed them into the tote bag and kept on shopping.
When we got back to the hotel, I remember reading the beginning of the book and thinking, "hey, that is a great idea". It even made me feel somewhat generous towards my fellow human beings. After we got back home, my copy got lost in my endless stacks of "to read" books and I have no idea what Charles did with his. His "to read" stacks are often mixed in with everything from bottle tops to power tools, so I'm never sure what is going on there.
Tonight as I was reaching for a different book, I saw Charles' copy (mine is still buried where he could not have found it). Evidently he has decided to work through more of it - or at least the dog-eared page is farther back now. So I picked it up to flip through it again, wondering what it was that had made me think we needed to finish it. And I came across the passage that caught my attention before.
I've never used large excerpts of an author's work on my blog before, but I think this deserves a viewing by my five loyal readers.
The excerpt is from Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through The Power of Words by Kevin Hall. I'm starting on page 8, in a story that the author is telling about a trip to Vienna, Austria. Hall is having dinner with the proprietor of a fabric shop named Pravin Cherkoori who was originally from India. Here in blue is part of the exchange:
Pravin spoke about his early years. "I grew up in Calcutta," he began, "among the poorest of the poor. Through education and hard work my family was able to break the shackles of poverty." After a pause, he resumed. "My mother taught me many great things. One of the most important was the meaning of an ancient Hindi word."
That brought me to the edge of my chair.
"In the West you might call this charity," Pravin went on. "But I think you'll find this word has a deeper meaning."
What word could have more depth than charity? I thought.
Speaking deliberately, almost reverently, he continued as if he were revealing a sacred secret.
"The word is 'Genshai,'" he said. "It means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small."
I pulled out my leather journal and wrote the salient word "Genshai" (pronounced Gen-shy) and its meaning as taught by my newfound friend.
Pravin continued, "As children, we were taught to never look at, touch, or address another person in a way that would make them feel small. If I were to walk by a beggar in the street and casually toss him a coin, I would not be practicing Genshai. But if I knelt down on my knees and looked him in the eye when I placed that coin in his hand, that coin became love. Then and only then, after I had exhibited pure, unconditional brotherly love, would I become a true practitioner of Genshai."
Sit with that thought for a moment. Or two.
Most of you know that as part of an ongoing project, several other bloggers and myself have been conjecturing for weeks about whether or not we would give a "second chance" to people we've never even met before. But have we even been showing this type of loving respect - this Genshai -to the people we come in contact with every day? That would be a big, fat NO for me. At this moment in time I cannot even imagine having that type of gentleness of spirit.
Genshai. As I'm learning to give second chances, I need to also start using this principle to make my first impressions - all of my impressions. I have a feeling this is going to take a lot of practice.
Later in the passage I quoted, Pravin says, "Genshai means that you never treat anyone small - and that includes yourself!" How do you feel about that last part?
PS. If I ever make it through the rest of the book, I'll give you a report.