On Giving Things Away
One of the warning signs that a person may be suicidal, or having a mental breakdown, is that one begins to give things away. We are taught by some religious leaders, that while on one hand, we are blessed by God if we have material things, on the other hand, it is a noble act to share our possessions.
There was a time in my life when I owned every Bob Dylan album available. There was a time in my life when I sold every Bob Dylan album and gave the money away. In the following years, I collected them again. With the invention of Spotify and satellite radio, there is little need for the collection. All the money I gave away is gone, most likely spent on something that did not last, by someone who may or may not be living in this present moment. It was a grand gesture from me to the Universe, but in the bigger picture, it had little impact.
Now I make more money. Now I have a car that beeps if I drive out of my lane. Now I have Bob Dylan CDs that I have yet to open. Do I consider it a blessing?
Yes and no.
It definitely is not a curse. It is a blessing in the sense that I am thankful. It is neither good or bad in the sense that more money, cars that beep, and unopened Bob Dylan CDs, never impressed me much, even if they are mine. These are not a result of good karma or a giving heart, but they are simply what I find myself with at this point in my life.
I listen to a lot of people who would convince us that we can manifest possessions after paying for a course they teach. I have heard a lot of preachers who, after trying to convince you to give them money, speak about how God will give you even more money than you gave. Somehow, these speakers must believe they are the owners of the bank of God, and that this bank of God yields a higher interest rate than a good mutual fund. We find what we are looking for in life. If we feel we need a conservator to dispense blessings to us in small doses, it makes sense to trust a self-help guru or prosperity preacher.
Personally, I do not.
What I trust is a flower. What I trust is the rain after sunshine and the sunshine after a rain. I also trust the smile on the face of a newborn, the hoot of an owl in the dead of a warm summer night, and a butterfly that follows my walking for no reason at all. I do not trust these things to speak to me. I do not trust these creations to bless me with any particular thing, but I do believe they have more to say about the Divine than gurus and preachers. Even Jesus, when teaching us not to worry, said, “consider the lilies”, not watch a Ted Talk or do whatever you can to get in touch with Joel Olsteen.
If there is a loving Creator, and this Creator gives always, we would be well served to determine how and what is given. Both so we might replicate the giving, but also so we might better be able to receive. And for this, there is another story. For this, consider a child.
One spring day, my son made a necklace made of clover. He made it while I mowed the yard and spent quite a bit of time tying flowers and stems together. When he presented it to me, I wore it proudly for nearly ten minutes, and then he and I decided it was wilting. I did not preserve it. It has long since been reduced to dust. It was a gift, but it was a gift that was destined not to last. As are all things with, and in, this world. The necklace, however, was not what he gave me.
For over an hour, he thought of me. He considered what I might like. He, in his childish way, believed he was giving me a great thing. It was, in a manner of speaking, a prayer. The gift did not mean much, but the care he placed into the making of the necklace did matter. Clover is not as valuable or durable, as say, gold, but in that moment in time, it was everything he had, wrapped up with everything he could do, to show his love for me. This is the way of the Divine.
Prosperity is like the clover. We can wear it for the few years we have on earth. We can enjoy it for a time. But if that is the medium that God chose to show you favor, be careful not to confuse the prosperity with the gift. The gift is that you were considered at all. The gift is that the Creator considered what you might like, and in a manner of speaking, said a prayer. The Creator will bless you constantly. With money? Yes, at times. With comfort? Yes, at times. With laughter? Yes, at times. You get the point.
Simply stated, when a guru, teacher, or preacher, claims that a gift of money is the ultimate gift from you, to God, or that a percentage of your income is the God-ordained way of sacrifice (always as they are willing to hold onto it for you), they are placing a value on cash that is more than the value they place on God. Money, though it is hard to believe in the West, is like a clover necklace, destined to wilt in the sun. We can use it, we can enjoy it, we can give it away, or we can keep it, but it is only one part of this world, and should not be confused with the love of the Divine.
If you are going to give something away, learn from flowers that offer beauty without regard for an audience. Learn from a bird, offering a song for anyone willing to listen. Learn from a child, who spends time creating good will in a way only they can imagine. Whether there is anyone to accept the gift or not, give these gifts regardless. Give the gift of love, or a kind thought, or a smile, to those around you or to those that cross your mind. Wish peace for troubled souls and comfort for the bereft.
Most of our giving is done without possessions, and in times of thought or consideration, away from those for whom we seek to offer a thing. On giving things away? Do it with your heart, mind, and soul. It does not matter if you use money or clover, but should only create a kindness in this world.
This is how we join in the rhythm section of the band playing out the song of Creation. This is how we hear the music of the Universe in a new way.