Paramhansa Yogananda taught that what the world needs is a blend of the best qualities of the East and West: the spiritual insight of the East and the practical efficiency of the West. One without the other leads to a society barren of human fulfillment, but a balance of the two can bring peace, harmony, prosperity, and happiness.
Americans, both as individuals through founding trusts and charitable foundations, give away billions of dollars each year. I recently read a quote by a British journalist that sums up this trend in America extremely well: “Philanthropy is so widespread, so staggering in its scale, so imaginative in its object, that in this country it manages to match all but the nation-wide efforts of government.”
There is the case of Andrew Carnegie. He began as a poor immigrant from Scotland and founded the monopoly called the United States Steel Corporation. Andrew Carnegie amassed his fortune through amazing ingenuity and brutality. He used underpaid immigrant labor and collaborated with some of the most conniving individuals of this century. At sixty-five he retired and sold U.S. Steel for 250 million dollars—about 10 billion dollars in today’s money.
Asked what he was going to do with his vast wealth, “Give it away, because,” he said: “the kept dollar is a stinking fish . . . the man who dies rich dies thus disgraced.” As a small boy, he had been amazed that even he had a right to a library card entitling him to borrow free books from a library. He never forgot it, and went on to found over three thousand public libraries around the world. His money went on to fund some of the great institutions of our time. What a paradox!
America’s real success, however—more than most Americans realize—has always been due to a dual attitude of faith and generosity. If each of us does our part by maintaining a “giving spirit” and an open heart, we can change this world and ourselves.
The concepts of donating to charity and tithing can become intermixed. Tithing is when your intention is to give the “first fruits” of our labor back to God. During the difficult financial times we are experiencing, I think it is a good time to remember how the concept of tithing is directional, just like all our spiritual practices. Give what you can, but give with a spirit of gratitude for all God has given you.
Joy to you.
“Thank You, God”