July 8th, 2010

"Sermon" Meditation V, Give

"Give to anyone who asks...."  Q1

The Tao te Ching calls benevolence an inferior virtue because it is artificial and does not arise from our nature, but from our socialization.  We are benevolent to meet the needs of our egos, so others will like us, so others will be good to us, so we get stars in our crowns and heavenly blessings.

Most people will act openhanded and openhearted so long as they are treated fairly.  But we don't  (our egos don't) want to be taken for suckers, so we quickly learn to "begrudge."  If any of us become "takers" we each create a multitude of "grudges" in our wake.  Grudges leave takers feeling taken advantage of so they are more likely to remain takers.  Givers are the leaven which keeps life in the world palatable.  Givers may think they are trying to get into heaven, but they are not.  They give because they are inclined to give.  The closer we get to the real Jesus, the less we hear about the rewards of giving and the more we are urged to just give.  It is the "rewards" of giving that turn potential givers into grudges and takers.

I have decided that the command ," do not cast pearls before swine" is not intended as offensive to pigs; it is a simple acknowledgment that however valuable pearls may appear to human beings (see Huxley,  Heaven and Hell)  they are unlikely to have any meaning at all for pigs.  So we give to whoever asks, whatever they ask for, whenever they ask, if it is ours to give.

Ahh, "if its ours to give."  I sometimes wonder if married people would be more giving if they were single.  I know that when Dianne suggests a donation or a contribution, i always approve of her choice but almost never suggest a larger amount.  But i'm sure there are a lot of times when she would like to donate but says nothing.  If i suggest a contribution, and i only suggest contributions to causes i believe she would approve of, she often suggests a smaller amount and i go along with it.  We gave about $150 to Haitian relief,  i suspect that as single persons (assuming the same level of income ) we would have given three, four, or five times that amount.  But i always worry about her long term care and she wants to be sensible; neither attitude would have been approved by Jesus.

Nor by the Buddha.  there is a beautiful prayer in Buddhism that asks that the pray-er be given all the sorrows of others and those prayed for (everyone and everything) be given all the blessings that were intended for the pray-er.  This is Peter Maurin's idea of everybody "trying to be the poorest" which results in everybody being rich (in things of the spirit.)

So i need to ask permission from my spouse to  be "ridiculously generous" (Jose Hobday's characterization of the spirituality of aboriginal peoples).  Even in my giving, i am a taker; god help me be a giver.