Every so often I have an exchange on the Ask Neale feature of my personal website that I intuitively feel deserves to be shared with a larger audience. A week or so ago, I had such an exchange.
It had to do with Giving and Sharing. What is the limit? How far does generosity extend? At this time when we are being asked to do whatever we can for our family members in Haiti, the question comes up once again, as it does in all of our lives from time to time. So let me place before you for your consideration today this question and my answer, and see if you have any thoughts about it...
Dear Neale...While at work this afternoon i was listening to archives of your previous tele-classes and listened to alot of talk about giving. When you give you receive back so much more and of course I do believe this, and even if I weren't to believe this, something in me still wants so much to give all that I can of myself, resources, time and money.
At the same time the past couple nights I was sitting here reviewing my own personal financial situation and realized I really need to be more conscious of my spending because I'm not exactly in the best place right now financially and it's starting to get me very nervous and make me wonder how I'm going to get by.
Nevertheless, I stopped this afternoon at the grocery on the way home from work to get a cup of soup and cautiously only buying the soup and not filling a cart. I debated back and forth over which checkout line to get into and finally settled in a line behind a man in a motorized scooter. He had only a few items and then I realized he's pulling out the ads to give the coupons, even though he had not cut them out, and then his bill came to about $40.
He pulled out a wad from his pocket with papers spilling everywhere and gave the man a crumpled one and then another one and said, "I know there's a couple $20's in here somewhere." He realized he only had one 20 and asked the cashier to start taking things off.
I thought, "this is my perfect opportunity to give". I was going to offer to put several items he could not afford on my bill and pay for them, even though I don't have much money myself. and then... my scarcity mentality crepted in... "Well, I'll only offer to pay between $10-$15, any more than that I can't afford."
So I watched as there were a couple of bottles of spices being taken off the receipt which were close to $5 apiece, and then some meat. Before I knew it his bill was only $5.
I thought, "Well, I'm not paying $40 for this man's groceries. He shouldn't have come all the way out here if he didn't check to see if he had enough money." Then someone helped him with the one bag of groceries to the car and I went to my car feeling like I had missed my opportunity to give. I missed the opportunity for the cashier and the bagger and the man behind me in line to see someone give something to someone else and to be an inspiration to them. I felt like there was a test that I had failed.
So, I drove home thinking of this and as I got out of my car and turned to shut the door... there across the street... I realized this same man was my neighbor!!! I wondered if I should go back and purchase these things and bring them to him.
I came in and spoke to my aunt and she said my heart was in the right place, but maybe it wasn't the right place for you to give, and she proceeded to tell me about how this man can be, and not wanting to help himself, and sometimes expecting people to give him things because of his handicap.
So, my question is...how do we balance our giving?
I want to give. I want to so much and do in so many ways and sometimes I realize I just feel depleted rather than fulfilled. I feel that I have given the lady on the corner $10 and now I don't have the $10 that I need. and don't I have to be financially responsible at the same time as well??
I can't afford to give everyone money that asks me for it or that I would like to give it to. How do we balance appropriate giving and know when we're just throwing money (also, resources, time, gifts, talents) away?
I know if we give we should be receiving that back 10x, but when I give and then later look in my wallet to pay my own bills I realize... "Crap! I just gave my last $10 away and now I really need it." And same as giving non-monetary things also, I feel often times used up and depleted. I give all I've got and then I feel like I've got nothing left and I have been just used and taken advantage of. What is going wrong in this equation? Thanks in advance...Melissa.
My Dear Melissa...You are asking the Question of All Time. Let me see if I can clarify a few things for you, from what I imagine myself to "know"...
First of all, I am sure you have heard the saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." This is very, very true---but not because it is "nicer" to give; rather, because it is more powerful.
Conversations with God says that "every act is an act of self-definition." This means that by our thoughts, words, and deeds we are creating every day who we imagine ourselves to be.
CwG also makes the point that "everything you do, you do for yourself." There is no one else to do it for, and yes, it can "look like" there is. This is because the Outer World presents to us the Illusion of Separation, giving birth to the idea that there is More Than One of Us.
Yet even if there were More Than One of Us, it would still be true that "everything you do, you do for yourself," because everything you do (or do not do) brings up in you a feeling. It makes you feel a certain way about yourself. And this feeling is more than just an incidental experience. It is, in fact, a creative force. That is, how you feel about yourself is how you create yourself in the next golden moment of Now. Think of it this way: feelings are instructions to the Soul. They tell your Soul how you next want to experience your Self.
Now the wonderful thing about this is that feelings can be controlled and even created by you, deliberately. They are not necessarily things that "come over you." They can be things that you produce, that you choose and create, quite intentionally. Have you ever done something to make yourself feel good? Like put on some good music? Or go see a show? Or give someone a great big hug?
The hug is the best example. It could "look like" you are giving someone ELSE that hug...but if a hug can be defined as a warm, snuggly feeling---who is getting the feeling and who is giving it?
Now Melissa, when you failed to give that man in the grocery store a few dollars to help him out with his grocery bill, you ignored completely the impulse that was rising up within you. That impulse, what we might call your First Thought, was the Creative Impulse within you that is the driver of the human experience. Your Divine Self KNOWS Who You Are (abundant, needing nothing, Divine in origin, and always taken care of), but your Mind does NOT know...and will always intervene to tell you what IT thinks that IT knows about Who You Are. This is almost always MISINFORMATION. Therefore, when your Soul creates an impulse within you that produces First Thought (in this case: "help this man who is in need"), don't give it a second thought. STAY with the FIRST THOUGHT that entered your Mind!
(For a detailed description of how the Mind talks us out of being our very selves, I hope you will read When Everything Changes, Change Everything. It offers a remarkable explanation of all this.)
You did not help the man, and you felt terrible about it afterward. You felt terrible around your Self. You also gave yourself a huge dose of the feeling that you do not have enough. THIS FEELING is CREATIVE, producing the ACTUAL REALITY that you do not have enough! Therefore, you will "make yourself right" about that---PROVING that you KNEW what was TRUE about you! Yet it was your DEMONSTRATION that created what was true. Demonstration ALWAYS precedes reality! Always remember that. If you wonder why you do not have "enough" in your life, notice what you keep demonstrating...
Your aunt said that your "heart was in the right place," and she was correct! Yet then she gave you all sorts of reasons why NOT to give to this man, who turned out to be your neighbor...chiefly that he seems to expect people to help him because of his handicap. But his reason for doing what he does has nothing to do with your reason for doing what you do!
And besides, with respect to your aunt, she cannot possibly know the agenda of his Soul. I am reminded of a dream I once had, that I spoke of in my most recent book, mentioned above, When Everything Changes, Change Everything.
In my dream I was walking down a sidewalk in some city and I came across a street person leaning up against a building, clothes a mess, hair oily from not having been washed in weeks, and smelling...well, interesting...for lack of a better description.
The street person held out a small paper cup as I passed by. "Would you have any spare change?" she mumbled.
Oh, this same person is on this same spot six days out of seven, I said to myself. She's got a real racket going. Why bother even looking for work when you can pick up who knows how many dollars a week just standing here asking for it?
I passed her by without giving her so much as a look...but then I turned back and headed straight for her. "Tell me something," I blurted. "Why don't you just get a job like everybody else rather than standing here just asking people for money?"
"If I did," the bag lady replied, "who would be here to let you see who you really are-?"
I was stunned by her answer.
Stunned into silence.
And so, Melissa, I don't care what your aunt thinks is this man's motivation. She is looking at things from the earthbound Mind. I am inviting you to look at things from the Perspective of the Soul---the everlasting part of you that knows Who You Are, where you are, why you are where you are, and what you have always intended to do here.
So, then, Melissa, to your real question: How do you find balance between your inner impulse to give, give, give (and not just money, but many things, such as compassion, love, patience, help of many kinds, etc.) and your worldly Mind which is saying, "Be careful! There is not enough! Be careful! Are you going to get a `return' out of this? Be careful!"
The very thought of your getting a "return" is a thought that tells a lie about Who You Are. Who You Are does not need a "return"...on anything, least of all an act of generosity or love. Who you are IS Generosity and Love. It seeks to demonstrate that, not RECEIVE that...
Once you understand this, all of Life turns around. It literally revolves your thinking. This is an inner revolution. And you will never be the same again.
Will you always have what you need? Yes. Will you always think you have what you think you need?
Maybe not. It depends on what you "think you need." And THAT depends on who you think you ARE.
My father used to say to me, when I was a teenager: "Who do you think you are, anyway...!?"
Your life, lived, is your answer to that question. It will duplicate and replicate itself in every moment, proceeding out of the moment just before. Of COURSE you don't have enough money in your life. You have just demonstrated that.
Now, what I would have done...
I would have said to the man, "My dear friend, I wish I could feel that I had enough to pay your entire bill here, because I am noticing that you cannot. I do not feel that today I can do that. But I CAN surely HELP. Let me give you this little amount (say, five or ten dollars, not forty), will you? It would make me feel good." Tell the truth: It would make me feel good.
Always do what makes you feel good. Your tummy will always tell you what that is. Give it the old Tummy Test. Then go with that.
You'll feel worse by ignoring it, I promise you.
Love and Hugs,
© 2019 ReCreation Foundation - http://www.cwg.org - Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. His With God series of books has been translated into 27 languages, touching millions of lives and inspiring important changes in their day-to-day lives.