Gifting: The Second Principle

Dec 21, 2020 | Burning Man, Kiwiburn, The 10 Principles

A Letter of Gratitude

Dear Halcyon,

The advice that you have gifted all of us, in my opinion, is hands-down the most thorough, most heartfelt, the most informative available for virgin and non-virgin Burners alike.

Your videos and writings both prepared and inspired me as I embarked on my personal Burn journey. You helped me understand what the Ten Principles were truly all about and offered exceptionally pertinent advice for this newbie.

It was your monologues on the Principle of Gifting, in particular, that really sent my brain into a tailspin. Having been raised to succumb blindly to certain ‘norms’ and traditions as many of my fellow humans have, I was oblivious to how the act of ‘gifting” was so truly misinterpreted and acted upon in such a robotic and meaningless fashion. 

As you so insightfully promised in one of your videos, this lesson (or lessons) would go on to not just change my life on the Paddock/Playa, but also to radically change my point of view and approach to gifting and receiving gifts in the default world.

The insights you have shared have changed my whole life for the better.

Thank you.

Me te whakaute nui,

Navigator (Collector of All Things Bloggy)


Tips & Tricks #6 “Gifting”

August 1, 2013 By John “Halcyon” Styn

As people begin to check-off their pre-burn packing lists, many are puzzled by the same question: “What should I bring as gifts?”

But Gifting is about much more than brown paper packages tied up with strings. In fact, Gifting is one of my favorite things…

The (non-official) 10 Commandments of Gifting:

1) Gifting is a physical demonstration of Love. 

“I want you to have this because it makes me happy to see you happy.”

2) Gifting dissolves separation. 

When you Gift, you are breaking down the wall between me and you / us and them. If you EXCHANGE, then you are reinforcing the separation. But to GIFT is to say, You and I are one.

When I understand the interconnectedness of all things, then Gifting helps to show that I cannot ever lose anything. If I gift you something, I am only transferring it from one part of the one to another. There is no loss and no gain. We are just shifting possession to an aspect of the whole that will appreciate it more. Think “Osmosis of Material Goods.”

3) A Gift can be ANYTHING. 

It can be a song, an idea, a massage, a sculpture, a compliment, a sticker, a shoulder to lean on, a wet-nap, a walk home, or a hug.

Photo Credit: Shelley Watson

4) Gifting eliminates hoarding and creates abundance. 

When we allow ”stuff” to flow more fluidly between one another, ALL stuff becomes an available resource to ALL people. Gifting breaks down attachment.

5) Gifting helps dissolve the Ego. 

When we become less connected with owning and having stuff (even our skills and talents) then we identify less with our physical selves. We take less credit for things and less blame. Who we are becomes more about our divine seed than our story or physical form.

6) Gifting breaks the commerce paradigm. 

Traditional commerce = an even exchange. You get one, I lose one. You pay one, I earn one. Sum total = Zero (0). But in a gift, You receive the gift (+1) AND I feel good for giving the gift (+1). Sum total = Two (2).

7) Gifting releases the flow of energy between people. 

We are hardly even aware of the energetic walls that we maintain to hold on to our stuff and keep out yours. The more we gift, the less those barriers hold.

Photo Credit: Jean-Baptiste Gaillet

8) Gifting opens up the world. 

Making a habit of gifting allows you to see every interaction as an opportunity for increased Joy – even if there is no benefit to you specifically. If I have something (a bite of food, a word of support, a warm hat) that can make your life better, then I can make MY life better by helping YOU. That means there are billions of opportunities in every moment to make the planet more joyful. On the other hand, if the only way to increase joy is by helping out my specific individual self, then the opportunities are few.

9) Gifting is never required. 

A feeling of obligation cancels out the Gift. (This type of “Barter” exchange is often confused as gifting.) But if you expect anything in return – even the elimination of guilt – then the magic of Gifting has been compromised.

10) EVERY interaction can be seen as an act of Gifting.

If you’d like to hear more about this and other life-altering Principles, check out Halcyon’s amazing and insightful YouTube videos, like this one called Burning Man Tips & Tricks #31 Gifting.

Photo Credit: Alice Peperell

About the Author: Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man veteran and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is the author of “Love more. Fear less.” and producer of the Burning Man short film, “The Pink Path.” He has won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his “Love on Demand” video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based “1st Saturdays” homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self-expressed in the default world.

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