Inspired by another member in her local Lower Hutt Buddhist group (Te Awa Kairangi) to break down barriers through talking to people on the train Inga Boyd came up with Giftism.
Giftism is a project described as ‘Promoting joy through sharing baking with strangers’
On her blog (http://giftism.wordpress.com/) introduction she writes:
For the month of December, I’m embarking on a social experiment to see if I can promote a sense of joy and connectedness in my community. I’m going to do this by giving away baking to fellow passengers during my daily commute to work.
It’s the festive season, and it’s supposed to be all about giving – right? I’ve never tried anything like this before, but I do believe there is something pretty powerful in the act of giving without the need to receive anything in return.
To make things a bit more exciting – I’m not a great baker. Up until today I didn’t own a measuring cup or electric beaters, and my repertoire of baked goods includes scones, easy chocolate cake (recipe from home economics class at high school) and a lemon cake.
Unexpectedly her experiment caught on and she was featured on television news and newspaper articles. Others also joined in her campaign and she made some good friends along the way.
Inga says: “For such a simple idea, the whole project became an amazing personal experience. It proved to me that even small acts of kindness could have a really positive effect on people. Each morning after I’d given away my baking I was filled with a profound sense of joy and purpose, it was the biggest natural high ever! It was hugely fulfilling to realise that through actively sharing kindness within my community my project had inspired others and given them a feeling of hope.”
Inga’s project was a personal challenge to put into practise the Buddhist principles of compassion and courage in her daily routine.
“My SGINZ district leader said at a meeting last year that ‘Nichiren’s Buddhism is about how we act in everyday life’ and that really resonated with me. This was my personal step towards taking up the challenge, and the project itself demanded commitment and persistence, both qualities that my Buddhist practice have helped me develop. It took courage and perseverance to keep baking every night, writing sincerely about my experience on the blog and breaking out out of my comfort zone to interact with strangers every morning. My Buddhist practice certainly helped me get through it, and like my practise of daily chanting the point was to keep going, to keep pushing forward – and through challenging myself to complete the project I was rewarded with huge benefits! The commitment to the carrying out Giftism for the month of December was not just for the people who were receiving it (even though my fellow train passengers came to expect my baked goodies every day!),
but for my own journey. I was truly proud of myself for carrying out my experiment, and it helped reminded me of the central concept of cause and effect: we can find happiness through making others happy, and that bringing fourth Buddhism means being our better selves.”