There is a fine line between Giving and Taking, constantly challenged by Desires that tug at our Value System. Most people oscillate between Giving and Taking depending upon the situation. The challenge lies in navigating past disruptions and distractions to stay the course of the Givers.

Buddha Meditating by PondWhy do Takers Take?

Simple. Because of ignorance. That is to say, because they do not understand the difference between desires that lead to “right” and “wrong” actions, or actions of giving versus taking. For example:

  • Desiring love leads to actions of Taking, but loving is an act of Giving.
  • Giving and Taking is not the same as Giving and Receiving.
  • Lust, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Arrogance make people Takers.
  • Integrity (truth), Commitment (love), Persistence (faith), Teamwork (unity) and Communication (sharing) make people Givers.
Two Paradoxes on Giving and Taking:

Paradox 1: Why do most people want to be perceived as Givers?

Because most people admire and look up to Givers. And, being admired and respected by others is a basic human desire (Four Levels of Desire – see second level).

Paradox 2: If most people want to be Givers or be viewed as such, why do they act as Takers?

Here is the answer from three different bodies of wisdom passed down over the ages.

Socrates 220px-Socrates_LouvreSocrates argued as follows:

  • nobody desires evil
  • so, no one does harm or evil willingly or knowingly
  • virtue, or good, is knowledge
  • virtue is sufficient for happiness

We can infer from the above that Socrates tells us most people, including Takers, want to be Givers. It is ignorance, or the lack of knowledge (to truly distinguish between right and wrong actions), that causes them to become Takers. If they had the knowledge of right or wrong, they would choose right because doing right, or being virtuous, brings happiness. That is to say, Giving brings happiness. Therefore, Takers perform actions of taking out of ignorance. So, knowledge is the solution for eliminating or reducing the number of Takers in society.

How many politicians have you heard promoting education as a way of reducing crime in our society?

The Old Testament provides another viewpoint:

Original Sin Jan_Brueghel_de_Oude_en_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Het_aards_paradijs_met_de_zondeval_van_Adam_en_EvaThe Bible gives us the story of the Garden of Eden and the tree of knowledge of right and wrong. According to this well-known story, God has forbidden Adam to eat from the tree. However, as the story goes, Adam is tempted (see first level of desire) by Eve and partakes of the fruit. This is said in the Testament to be the beginning of the “original sin” — the cause and the beginning of evil in the world.

Whether you take this story literally, or use it as a metaphor, it tells us that Taking is a consequence of the the lower levels of desire.

Adi GranthFinally, the view of the ancient Vedic Sages and the Ten Teachers of the Sikh faith:

The wisdom of these sage on the question of Givers and Takers has been captured and expressed through the Four Levels of Desire. People become Takers because they are entranced and trapped by (the veil of maya) the two lowers levels of desire:

  • lust to take unto and for themselves
  • material trappings (maya) and the status they provide

The Adi Granth also tells us that people get trapped in the lower levels of desire (in the veil cast by maya) because of their ignorance (of what is real and what is illusionary). So, evil acts, or actions of Taking, are a consequence of ignorance (a-gyanta). This echoes the wisdom of the earlier Greek sages.

The_Sirens_and_Ulysses_by_William_Etty,_1837Trapped in these lower levels of desire, like Ulysses‘ sailors ensnarled by the songs of the sirens, Takers embrace negative core values.

The Second Principle of Purposeful Action presents Five Negative Core Values that characterize Takers:

  • Lust
  • Anger
  • Greed
  • Attachment (possessiveness)
  • Arrogance

Five more drivers of Taking are provided by the counterparts of the Five Positive Core Values:

  • (lack of) Integrity or Truth
  • (lack of) Commitment or love
  • (lack of) Persistence or faith
  • (lack of) Teamwork or inclusivity
  • (lack of) Communication or sharing

brookmastericonHow many individuals or organizations, and recognized “Leaders,” can you think of who have demonstrated these Taker attributes?

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