How Generosity Works

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Published by: Karuna Publications
Release Date: November 16, 2011
Pages: 128
ISBN13: 978-0976546986


We’ve all been there. Squirming in discomfort after the way we’ve handled aspects of our lives has run amok. Putting the toothpaste back in the tube is difficult and sometimes there’s nothing to do but cut your losses and move in new directions.

Troy left college carrying a long list of regrets, student debt, and plenty of opportunities for raking himself over the coals. What if he hadn’t lost his focus after his best friend had been killed? Would things have been better if he had quit drinking earlier? And why couldn’t he let his parents’ divorce roll off him the way his older brothers had? Each event has sent furious roots into his heart, forming a shield of anger that he directs mostly at himself. As is the nature of anger, its collateral damage creates a turbulent wake.

Having failed most of his classes, Troy has little choice other than to stay with his father, Maureen, and Natalie – the little sister who came after his father left his mother to marry Maureen. Since Troy has been away for several years he and Natalie don’t know each other well. But this doesn’t bother Natalie in the slightest when Troy gives her a ride to her piano lesson. Natalie loves Troy without reservation and she couldn’t be happier about having an older brother home with her. However, it’s a very different story for Maureen who openly despises Troy. The tension between them is knife-cutting thick.

On the afternoon when Troy takes Natalie to her piano lesson something different begins to happen. Maybe it is the steaming tea, stirred with generous amounts of honey and lemon that Grace, the teacher, serves him. Or it might be the embracing warmth in her home, heated by the wood stove she keeps burning while snow falls silently and deep outside. Whatever its source, peacefulness fills Grace’s home and wraps itself around Troy with a tenderness he hasn’t known for years. Grace invites Troy to browse her bookshelf while he waits for Natalie to have her lesson. The book with a picture of a Buddha in a Zen garden on its cover catches his attention. This book was pivotal for Grace several years earlier. Reading it set her on a path of learning that provided her with an understanding of karma and impermanence and, over time, developed her deep practice of meditation, compassion, and generosity. Troy’s interest and the questions he asks Grace begin a conversation that allows for these things to be shared.

How Generosity Works brings the teachings of Master Shantideva’s Perfection of Generosity vibrantly into twenty-first century Western culture. We are immersed in a New England winter landscape that appears magical through the prism of Grace’s world. We are soothed by her wisdom and softened by the warmth in her home. We are students in the classroom with Troy, listening to Grace gently share the teachings in a simple yet meaningful and applicable way. Recognizing the common challenges shared with our own lives, we benefit with Troy on a journey that empowers him to take control of his life by transforming pain and conflict into an extraordinary experience of kindness, compassion and love.


“A heartwarming, heart-opening and insightful tale about how acts of kindness and generosity spark a beneficial chain reaction.”
—Jeana from Rhode Island,

“Heartfelt, with a sense of humor, this book is a wonderful guide to new ways of thinking about life, the self, and yes, those cranky, struggling people we meet along the way.”
—Karen Romano Young,

“The writing is compelling in its simple evocation of New England winter to highlight the connections between the natural and inner worlds and there is just enough storyline to bind the lessons contained in the book into a coherent and tender whole.”
—Jeff from Arizona,

About the How Life Works Series

“When the student is ready, the master appears” is the theme of the How Life Works series. A collection of six stories, this series demonstrates how The Six Perfections: Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom, taught by the Buddhist monk Master Shantideva,* are every bit as relevant for us today as when Shantideva presented them in the 8thcentury.

Set within the rhythm of changing seasons in a small New England town, it is the heart of a snowy winter when we first meet Troy. During a tumultuous period of his young life, Troy has the good fortune to meet just the right teachers at just the right time. The first such teacher is Grace in How Generosity Works, and thus begins his journey.

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