The Art of Giving
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
The Art of GivingSharing the essence of you.
I was beginning to think that Chef Roger Dufau was a rare spiritual teacher who used food as inspiration for his lessons. There seemed to be something behind everything he said, as if the whole world would open up if I paid close attention. He was hidden in a way, veiled behind the meals he prepared and the simple lessons that flowed from him so effortlessly. I could have just as easily been in a Buddhist temple or monastery than a bed-and-breakfast an hour outside Toronto, keeping company with a man who was becoming more of a sage with every word he spoke.
“How many restaurants have you owned?” I asked as we were leaving the Mennonite country and heading toward Roger’s favorite mushrooming spot.
“I had my first restaurant in France when I was very young. I put everything I had into it—all my money and a little bit that I got from my parents. Of course, I wanted to make a good living, but I never really thought about the money. My passion was the most important thing to me, and I think people responded to it. I didn’t have many dishes when I first opened . . . maybe five or six. But I did every one of them very well. My specialty was fish soup. People came from all over to have it, and to this day it’s probably my best dish. I always figured that it’s better to do a few dishes extremely well than to have a big menu and only be okay.
“I also owned a few restaurants when I moved to Toronto in the early ’60s,” Roger added. “It was very hard getting started, but once we were rolling, it was a great success. I remember that my accountant always had a problem with how much I spent on ingredients. My food costs were somewhere around 44 percent, which was much higher than anywhere else. If you think of a low place, like a fast-food restaurant, the food cost is about 17 percent or less; while most good restaurants would be around 28 percent.
“So there I was with incredible expenses, but my tables were always full. My accountant came in and said, ‘Roger, your costs are way too high! You have to cut down because you don’t make enough money.’ Well, I looked at him and said, ‘Martin, I never made so much money in my whole life.’ He tells me I could be making more—probably double. I said, ‘I don’t give a shit about your figures of how much I should or shouldn’t be making. My customers are happy and they keep coming back. And I’m happy, so why should I cheat these people out of what I give them?’ Martin accepted this because he saw that I did make money year after year. He promised to never tell me what to do again.”
“Raising prices might have forced people away, and you wouldn’t have been nearly as successful,” I pointed out.
“Exactly. That is why the logic of accountants is not necessarily the logic of God, who says that we must give everything to everything. Do you know what I mean by that?”
“I think I do. It means not to hold back; give more than just your money—your energy and passion—as often as you can.”
Roger nodded. “God doesn’t keep lists of percentages and figures. He cares about our essence and, of course, sharing that essence. Jesus talked about the woman who gave a few pennies and that her gift was so much greater than the man who gave a large sum. Why? Because it was all the money she had, and it was a sacrifice to give it away. The rich man may have given more, but it didn’t cost him anything. He didn’t feel it in the same way.
“The woman gave her essence because she believed that it would return to her. This is also why Jesus challenged his disciples to sell what they had and give the money to the poor. I don’t know if he really meant that we have to be poor ourselves; it was more of a spiritual lesson about the importance of giving all the time.
“That’s the beauty of food as well. Do you think an apple or a carrot holds back when it offers itself to us to eat? They give their essence because they know that it will then live within us. When we give our essence to another, it continues on through the life of another. That is the logic of God.”