Choosing Where to Give
Center for Spiritual Living Morristown, 17 September 2017
SONG (Bob Sima): Follow the Love, from Pour It On
“The Master” from The Mastery of Love by don Miguel Ruiz:
——Once upon a time a Master was talking to a crowd of people and his message was so wonderful that everyone felt touched by his words of love. In the crowd there was a man who had listened to every word the Master said. This man was very humble and he had a great heart. He was so touched by the Master’s words that he felt the need to invite the Master to his home.
When the Master finished speaking, the man walked through the crowd, looked into the eyes of the Master, and told him, “I know you are busy and everyone wants your attention. I know you hardly have time to even listen to my words. But my heart is so open and I feel so much love for you that I have the need to invite you to my home. I want to prepare the best meal for you. I don’t expect you will accept, but I just had to let you know.”
The Master looked into the man’s eyes and with the most beautiful smile he said, “Prepare everything. I will be there.” Then the Master walked away.
At these words, the joy in the man’s heart was strong. He could hardly wait to serve the Master and to express his love for him. This would be the most important day of his life: The Master was going to be with him. He bought the best food and wine, and found the most beautiful clothes to offer as a gift to the Master. Then he ran home to prepare everything to receive the Master. He cleaned his entire house, prepared the most wonderful meal, and made the table look beautiful. His heart was full of joy because the Master would soon be there.
The man was waiting anxiously when someone knocked at the door. Eagerly, he opened the door but instead of the Master, he found an old woman. She looked into his eyes and said, “I am starving. Can you give me a piece of bread?”
The man was a little disappointed because it was not the Master. He looked at the woman and said, “Please, come into my house.” He sat her in the place he had prepared for the Master and gave her the food he had made for the Master. But he was anxious and could hardly wait for her to finish eating. The old woman was touched by the generosity of this man. She thanked him and left.
The man had barely finished preparing the table for the Master again when someone knocked at the door. This time it was another stranger who had traveled across the desert. The stranger looked into the man’s face and said, “I am thirsty. Can you give me something to drink?”
The man was a little disappointed again because it was not the Master. He invited the stranger into his home and sat him in the place he had prepared for the Master. He served the wine he had intended to give the Master. When the stranger left, the man again prepared everything for the Master.
Someone knocked at the door again. When the man opened the door, there stood a child. The child looked up at the man and said, “I am freezing. Can you give me a blanket to cover my body?”
The man was a little disappointed because it was not the Master, but he looked into the eyes of the child and felt love in his heart. Quickly he gathered the clothes he had intended to give the Master and he covered the child with the clothes. The child thanked him and left.
The man prepared everything again for the Master and then waited until it was very late. When he realized the Master was not coming, he was disappointed but right away he forgave the Master. He said to himself, “I knew I could not expect the Master to come to this humble home. Although he said he would come, something more important must have taken him elsewhere. The Master did not come, but at least he told me he would, and that is enough for my heart to be happy.”
Slowly he put the food away, he put the wine away, and he went to bed. That night he dreamed the Master came to his home. The man was happy to see him but he didn’t know that he was dreaming. “Master you came! You kept your word.”
The Master replied, “Yes, I am here but I was here before. I was hungry and you fulfilled my need for food. I was thirsty and you gave me the wine. I was cold and you covered me with clothes. Whatever you do for others, you do for me.”
The man woke up and his heart was filled with happiness because he understood what the Master had taught him. The Master loved him so much that he had sent three people to give him the greatest lesson: The Master lives within everyone. When you give food to the one who is starving, when you give water to the one who is thirsty, when you cover the one who is cold, you give your love to the Master.———
How do we choose where to give? By instinct? By being guilted? Through careful consideration? Because of a feeling? Because of an expectation? Based on a rule of thumb? By listening to the little voice inside?
Obviously, the man in the story wanted to honor and show appreciation to the Master whose presence touched his heart. So his motivation was initially in reverence for someone who had a positive impact on his consciousness. You could say the man felt something that, in turn, encouraged him to offer to share his time, talents, and treasure with the one who evoked those good feelings.
As the story continues, we realize that the man couldn’t help but offer the very gifts he intentionally prepared for one very specific purpose and one very specific person to a different, and potentially more impactful, purpose spread across three different people. Ultimately, how the man chose to give was through non-attachment, non-judgment, and non-identity.
The man did go out of his way to get the best food and prepare the best meal and prepare the table and his home. He planned. He intended. He spent his time, talents, and treasures creating a most beautiful space to host his anticipated guest. You almost get the sense that he went above and beyond his normal “humble” means to impress the Master. Again, being so overcome with gratitude for what he felt that he wanted to do something that he perceived would be comparable to the feelings that flooded his heart.
When his plans were unexpectedly interrupted, he was not so overly attached to the work that went into creating the space that he didn’t invite in – not once, but three times – someone who was not “supposed” to be there. Not only were they not supposed to show up, they were not supposed to be the recipients of the man’s attention. Yet the man tended to each of their needs, one by one, giving away the very gifts birthed for someone else, all the while knowing that he would not be able to gift that portion of his offering to the Master if and when he did arrive. Non-attachment.
Furthermore, he did not ask questions or place a judgment on the three visitors when they asked for things that could be quickly fulfilled by the very items he prepared specifically for someone else. The story did not describe the man attempting to be a therapist or determine the cause of the visitors’ distress. The story also did not describe the man attempting to find a longer-term solution than what was being asked. He simply welcomed them and served them the only way he could in that moment. Non-judgment.
As we all share this human experience, we often get trapped in the names and labels and comparisons and things we think identify who we are. We often forget that we are. Period. We do not need anything more than what we carry within us to make a difference or to have an impact on ourselves and those around us, on a micro and macro scale. The man in the story associated his desired self image to the Master with the best food, the best wine, the cleanest house, and the most beautiful table. Yet his generosity, graciousness, and ability to forgive far outweigh any labels or things he could have offered the Master himself. When challenged to give up those identities to those who might be perceived as less-than-worthy of the best meal, the best wine, the cleanest house, and the most beautiful table… he did so without hesitation. Non-identity.
When our motivation to serve is inspired through unconditional love, no amount of planning – whether over-planned, perfectly planned, or under-planned – makes a difference in choosing – from each moment to the next – where to give our time, talents, and treasures. You see, how we give will determine how we choose where, and when, to give.
Do you know how you, personally, choose to give? Have you ever really asked yourself what motivates and inspires your own commitment to service? Even more so, do you allow enough space in your busy life to feel into where you truly desire to share your time, talents, and treasure? Do you consciously choose to share your gifts?
These are all questions to ask of ourselves as we move into a more contemplative space. Get comfortable. Get in touch with your breath. When was the last time you listened to yourself breathe? When was the last time you focused on your breath as a way to connect to the truth of yourself? When was the last time you used your breath as a way to reset your consciousness? Breathe out. Breathe in. How do you choose to give?
SONG (Bob Sima): Breathe, from putalittlemoreloveintheworld
This world can easily bombard us with distractions from where we really want to focus our energies. We get pulled into many directions. The world is at our fingertips, but that doesn’t mean that we have to choose the rest of the world over the situation that is presented to us right here, right now, alive, and waiting for our attention.
Where do we choose to give? How about… Right here. Right now.
We can always choose to give to the present moment. Whatever that present moment brings. Maybe it is a conversation with a loved one where you can serve by listening to the story for the thousandth time. Maybe it is a commercial that tugs at your heartstrings where you can serve by donating to a charitable cause. Maybe it is a hummingbird that flies up to your window, stares at you for a few seconds, and flutters away where you can serve by saying thank you for the spiritual visit. Maybe it is the local food pantry where you can serve by packing boxes of food for families in need. Maybe it is the neighbor’s child who is trying to raise funds to go on a mission trip where you can serve by sharing some of your financial resources to create an experience of a lifetime. Maybe it is the death of a loved one who mentored you through a dark night of the soul where you can serve by allowing the lessons they taught you to live on through your own actions. Maybe it is the loss of a job that you didn’t really love where you can serve by choosing a more authentic path for your career.
Whatever the present moment offers is always a chance for us to choose where to give. In each moment, we have to determine if the opportunity presenting is one that we claim makes us feel good or one that we claim makes us feel bad. And then we choose where to give our energy. Where the short-term effects of that choice reach, may be obvious. Where the long-term effects of that choice reach, we often never know. To a true giver of life, that doesn’t matter.
To say that we met an inspiring man a few years ago is an understatement. The man is named Richard Moore. Not only were we inspired by him, His Holiness The Dalai Lama has called Richard Moore his hero. Richard’s story is so applicable to this message, so I encourage you to read more about it at www.ChildrenInTheCrossfire.org
Eric Butterworth in Spiritual Economics describes givers and takers:
———The takers are the people who believe that their lives will always be the total of what they can get from the world. They are always thinking get, get, get. They plan and scheme ways to get what they want in money, in love, in happiness, and in all kinds of good. No matter that they may be applying metaphysical techniques, they still may very well be takers. But whatever may be their spiritual ideals or lack of any, no matter what they take, they can never know peace or security or fulfillment.
The givers, on the other hand, are convinced that life is a giving process. Thus their subtle motivation in all their ways is to give themselves away, in love, in service, and in all the many helpful ways they can invest themselves. They are always secure, for they intuitively know that their good flows from within.———
According to Butterworth’s definition, Richard Moore is a model example of a giver. You sense it when he speaks. You feel it when he sits next to you. Richard Moore absolutely lives the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Would you consider yourself a giver? If so, do you consciously give to as many present moment opportunities in service to yourself, to those around you, to your community, to your world?
Where you choose to give defines your core values. Where you choose to give is an expression of your beliefs. Where you choose to give is one of the tools we have to grow and to help others transform through this human experience.
How do you choose where to give?
Follow the Love.
Be The Change.
SONG (Bob Sima): Be The Change, from Thin Little Veil