Dear Friend,

“Tithing is an expression of divine love.” This thought formed in my mind during meditation. “The more we forget ourselves in giving to others,” Swamiji writes, “the better we can understand what love really is. And the more we love as channels of God’s love, the more we can understand that His is the one love in all the universe.” The more we can give with love, the more we will know God’s love shining within our hearts—and here is the true joy of tithing.

In our recent Shivaratri celebration, we heard a touching story of an old woman who loved the Lord as Shiva, and who longed for a way to help with the building of a great temple is his honor. She despaired of being able to help, for she had little of the world’s goods and was bowed down by age. Still she chanted Shiva’s name with great devotion, and prayed for guidance. An inspiration came: “Go out everyday at noon and take milk to the workers!” And so she did. Though her cow was too old and gave little milk, from the day she offered that little to Shiva, milk gushed from the cow’s udder. Pail after pail she would carry to the builders, all the time chanting Shiva’s name.

When the temple was complete, a great ceremony was held to bless its opening. Suddenly, the image of Shiva came alive, glowing with a brilliant light. Then Shiva spoke: “Bring forth the one who built this holy place!” The emperor who had ordered the building, the architect, the master builders, one and another strode forward to claim credit. But Shiva was unimpressed. Finally, someone thought of the old woman and her milk. When she was found at the very back of the crowd, she was lost in divine rapture, for she had glimpsed the Lord’s face. Shiva smiled sweetly at her as she fell at this feet, raised her up with his own hands, and embraced her lovingly.

“Oh, my beloved devotee,” Shiva said, “it was your love that brought me here, it was your love that built this temple. I live where there is love. Only love calls me. Only love can house me. O dear one, you have constructed what no riches, no plunder, no skill, no labor can ever construct.”

Shiva’s blessing spread out from the old woman, the purest lover of God, to all those who had helped in the building. None was untouched. A never before known sweetness arose in every heart, tears streamed down every face as each one made the Lord welcome within.

This beautiful story, with its message of God’s blissful response to the devotee’s loving offering, seems especially appropriate as we, Master’s worldwide family, move into the actual building of the Moksha Mandir, in honor of our beloved Swamiji. May we all serve Master’s work in whatever way we are given with the same divinely loving spirit that so moved the heart of the Lord Shiva.

In divine friendship,
For Ananda’s “Thank You, God” Tithing

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