Giving has been extolled by most traditions to be among the greatest spiritual virtues. But the trouble lies in the way it has been advocated. Most spiritual traditions suggest that giving is the way to spiritual progress, that when you give, you receive more in return. Giving is said to make God happy and open the doors to heaven. Giving is also said to attract more wealth.
I feel that these ideas have promoted giving—but for the wrong reasons. When we give with expectation, the spirit of giving is killed—because the underlying intention is to ‘get’. This kind of giving is business-like—we always look for some gain before we are comfortable giving. For example, philanthropy, charity, and donations are often ways to command the goodwill of the public, get blessings from god men, save tax or all the three.
If you think this kind of transactional giving is just restricted to the corporate world, think again. The get mindset is so ingrained in our psyche that most of us hold back on giving even love unless we can see some personal benefit. The flip side of such a mindset is that we are equally uncomfortable receiving anything, because we suspect that the giver’s kindness might be motivated by some expectation. The net result of this give-to-get mindset is that we practise a contrived form of altruism, which keeps locked the true joy of giving.
To me, the purest form of giving is when we do it for its own sake and not because we expect something in return. The joy you experience when you give like that, cannot be described in words. And I will not even make an attempt to do so. But I earnestly invite you to try giving without expecting and find out for yourself how powerful a phenomenon it is. As you do so, you may realise that abundance has nothing to do with what you have; it’s about what you can give away.
Here’s a secret—the beauty of giving freely is that it signifies abundance. It’s an inner acknowledgement that we have the luxury of giving something. In other words, we cannot give away that which we don’t have. So, whenever we give, whether it is our money, time, advice or even kindness, we experience instant abundance. But only when we do it without any expectations, without any underlying need—material, emotional or spiritual.
Complete Wellbeing supports Daan Utsav [formerly called The Joy of Giving Week] observed from October 2nd to 8th
A version of this article first appeared in the October 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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