By Beth Owl's Daughter
I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. -- Maya Angelou
According to Moses Maimonides' hierarchy of giving, the most virtuous form of charity is that which enables the recipient to become self-reliant. And anonymous giving is more favorable for a number of reasons. This is why organized charities are so important, since they help us meet those criteria. In fact, I believe that charitable giving should be a part of everyone's practice.
Some people do this by the practice of tithing. The modern definition of tithing is to give 10 percentof one's income to one's primary religious organization. But tithing need not only be for a formal religious group, nor is it necessarily 10 percent. We can think of tithing as simply the planned, intentional setting aside of a percentage of our income for sharing.
You might be interested to know that tithing is not the exclusive domain of Judeo-Christian practice. In fact, there is currently a backlash against tithing in some of the extremely conservative fundamentalist Christian circles because of its Pagan roots!
According to historian Collin Hansen,
Many non-Jewish and pre-Christian societies also practiced tithing-like giving. Some ancient sources describe how kings imposed a type of first-fruits tax to maintain holy shrines and support clergy. From Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonia to the temples of Apollo in Delphi and Athena in Athens, pre-Christian centers of worship collected tithes for their Gods.
Ancient cultures as disparate as the Greeks and Chinese -- including the Arabians, Phoenicians, Romans, and Carthaginians -- gave in ways mirroring the tithe. Some scholars believe ancient cultures hit on the seemingly arbitrary figure of one-tenth because they often did calculations on their fingers.
Some Christian churches today demand a 10% donation of one's gross income, while others ask for pledges that would amount to that. But most people do not give nearly this much, nor do they give only to their religious group (if any at all), but to secular, non-faith-based organizations.
Interestingly, the two groups in the United States that give away the highest percentages of their income are the poor (those making less than $20,000 per year) and the wealthy (those making more than $100,000 per year). In fact, families earning less than $10,000 give 5.5 per cent of their income to charity (not necessarily religious ones). Contrast this to families earning between $50,000 and $60,000 who give only 1.7% of their earnings.
Should we give more? How can we, without jeopardizing our own security, especially in rough economic times?
With the collapse of the American auto industry bailout (for now), and so many other factors that point to a deepening recession, we are all jittery about what cash we do have. How, then, can we give it away without threatening our own security? Shouldn't we be hanging on to every dime we can?
Money is energy. It is energy that has value only because of our thoughts about it. This is not a New Age, pie-in-the-sky invention. This is straight from the mouth of Alan Greenspan and every other economist who has given it serious reflection.
Money takes any form and value that we collectively agree upon. Money is an intersection between intention and attention; it is a liminal space between consensual reality and desire.
Like all forms of energy, it must have a source, and it must flow.
Our ancestors understood the real source of money and wealth energy. It was Loving Abundance, the hand of the Divine, pouring out blessings. They knew what we have forgotten -- that money is a bridge between the human realms and the grace of the Divine One(s).
When we begin to understand that money is an energetic flow that connects us to what is sacred and life-giving, whether you call that Spirit, Goddess, or any other name you prefer, our relationships with its acquisition, giving, gratitude, and gathering become healthy and return to balance.
If it doesn't flow, it stops. That is, it stops going out, but it also stops coming in.
So charitable giving is not only good, it is absolutely necessary from an energetic standpoint, if we are to be in balance and healthy ourselves. When cash is in short supply, we can give in other ways, of course. But give we must.