Every day I receive questions in my email and my snail mail from readers of Conversations with God asking me for clarification on some point, or for some response to something that they are asking about in their lives. I enjoy these interactions with readers immensely, and I have a thought that you might find them interesting as well. And so from time to time I’ll be placing some of these interactions here.
Such as this one…
Dear Neale: Would you please clarify some thing I am confused about? Tithing. I tithed for years when I was in a fundamentalist church, so I know what it means. For the past year I have been giv¬ing away at least ten per cent of my gross income, most of it to sources of spiritual growth.
So many different things I’ve read have been consistent about the importance of putting back at least ten percent into the universe, but there seems to be no consensus about where to give it.
You have also talked about being the source of what we choose to experience more of. So, if I desire more money in my life, I need to give to those who have less. Does this come out of my tithe, or is it extra? I am willing to contribute to Habitat for Hu¬manity, because I wish to own a house. Again, should this be out of my tithe, or above it?
Also, if I wish to own a house, and give thanks that a house is coming into my life, how specific must I be about what I would like? Do specifications limit God? Do I assume God knows what is best for me? Is vague ness us able by God/the Uni verse? Again, I get dif fer ent mes sages from different places. God bless you, Neale! Brenda, Vancouver, B.C.
My Dear Brenda: God bless you, too! You know, you ask some of the most important questions dealing with the practical application in day-to-day life of the highest spiritual laws.
First, about tithing. The reason we tithe is as a demonstra¬tion. By tithing we systematically demonstrate the truth which we hold about money, just as our whole life is a demonstration of our truths about every thing. The only people who tithe, who rou¬tinely give money away to others, are people who are very clear that there is more where that came from. Out of this clarity arises the demonstration, and out of this demonstration arises the pre¬cise experience of that about which one is clear.
Of course, we are right back to that age old question: which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the case of the universal laws, or what I call the metaphysical principles, the question in answerable. Demonstration always precedes experience. That is, you will experience what you demonstrate.
This is why I say, “That which you wish for your self, give away to another.” But there is a trap here. If you are doing some¬thing in order to produce a result (for in stance, tithing in order to bring more money into your life), then you will not produce the result, and you may as well give it up before you start.
The reason this is so is that your very reason for undertaking the demonstration says a lie about you: namely, that you do not have all that you wish right now, and need or want more. That underlying truth, what CWG 1 calls your “sponsoring thought,” is what produces your reality. So no matter how much you give, you will experience not having “enough” and “wanting more.”
On the other hand, if you are doing some thing as a demonstration that the result has already been produced (for instance, tithing ten per cent of your income each week out of your deep sense of knowing that there is always enough for you to share, that there is “more where that came from”), then you will have larger and larger experiences of this truth.
Remember, you are not producing the truth, you are recognizing it. Do you see? Do you get It?
There is no “rule” in the universe about the level at which one must demonstrate in order to experience a universal truth. So your question about the amount of your financial contributions back to the universe has no answer. In my own life, I just give wherever and whenever it feels comfortable and true to myself to do so. I do not give in order to produce “plenty.” I give out of simply noticing that plenty has already been produced.
Rules, such as the strict in junction to give away ten per cent of your worldly goods, are for those who need rules in order to implement basic truths and to live within the paradigm of basic understandings, such as the understanding of plenty. They provide a discipline. They offer a guide line. Masters are their own disci¬pline. Masters create their own guidelines.
So, what that means, Brenda, is that you can give what you choose to give of your abundance. If you want to stay with a strict hard and fast ten per cent, I would include everything you give to support the good of another in that figure, including the contribution to Habitat for Humanity.
Here’s how I did it some years ago. I set up a rough “division of the goodies.” To my home church: three per cent of my income each week; to the Children’s Miracle Network (which I want to support), two per cent each week; to the local medical assistance program for the indigent, two per cent each week; to a special fund for family and friends when they need help, two per cent each week; to set-aside for last minute choices and decisions (like Habitat for Humanity, one per cent each week. Voila! There’s your ten per cent!
The answer to the second part of your question (where you ask about “vagueness”) is again just about the same. Some teachers say, “don’t limit God by being too specific.” Some teachers say, “Be specific about what you choose!” I understand your frustration. So what I say here will be a great relief. It doesn’t matter.
Look, Brenda, it’s not as if God will accept your request only if it is made under certain guide lines, you know? That gets right back to ancient religions which teach that there is only one way to God, and all the rest of us are going to hell. Not so. Big lie. Same with this.
Even before you ask, God knows what you desire. You want to visualize some thing general, like “the right and perfect car”? Go ahead. You want to get specific? That’s okay, too. Visualize a big red car with black interior. See the dash board design in your mind’s eye. Call out the model number, if you choose. Yet here’s the trick; here’s the secret. As soon as you “put it out there” in the universe, let it go. That is to say, detach your self from results. CWG 1 teaches that enlightenment is not about dropping all desires, escaping all passion, eschewing all choices. It is about retaining your passion for the thing. It actually encourages you to do so, for passion, the book says, is the beginning of creation; but it also instructs us to avoid being addicted to any particular outcome. Call forth what you choose, CWG says, and then accept what the universe supplies, with gratitude and with love, knowing that it is all perfect.
And try to get clear on this, too, Brenda: there is nothing that is best for you. “Best for you” is a relative term, dependent on a great many factors, not all of which may be consciously known to you. Therefore, a master never tries to figure out what is “best” for her. A master simply knows that what is “best” is that which now is.