The secret of Ananda’s survival has always been one simple practice: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.” God is the great Giver. To receive the most from Him, we need to be on His wavelength of Giving — spiritually, energetically, mentally, and materially.
Ananda is fundamentally different from “the world.” Worldly people look at what life is giving them. In that world, you earn a certain amount, you spend a certain amount. It is easy to calculate.
Nothing material can explain how Ananda exists today.
Many people don’t know the story behind tithing at Ananda…
When Ananda began in the late 1960s and early 70s, we were a basically money-less economy. Many of us lived without checking accounts, cars, medical appointments. We had no bills, and very little income. When the collection basket was passed at Sunday Service, we held our hands over it in blessing — feeling that because we had offered our lives in service, we needed to offer nothing more.
In the late 1970s, one of our members researched tithing, a spiritual practice in many churches. The underlying principle is that everything in life comes from God — health, energy, ability to serve, and all income. To acknowledge and honor God as the Supreme Giver, the tither vows to give some percentage of his income to its true Source. Since God has no checking account, the tithe is given to the source of one’s spiritual inspiration.
What happens then is profound. In some inexplicable way, the tither enters into a relationship with God, one that includes not only prayer and meditation but material wealth as well. By expressing gratitude to God through giving back to Him in a material way, His support and blessings are drawn into one’s material life, often in dramatic ways.
Here’s how tithing works: Whenever money comes to you, you immediately share your tithe with God. If you wait to see IF you have enough left over at the end of the month, you probably won’t. But when you offer the tithe first, somehow God makes sure that you don’t come up short. The result is a beautiful relationship with God — one that deepens your connection and builds your faith.
Ananda Village members of the late 1970s, when energy for tithing was just beginning to flow, at first found the idea baffling, for our average monthly income seldom exceeded $50. But we had an adventuresome spirit and decided to give this unusual concept a try.
Once Ananda Village embraced the practice of tithing, the community changed in dramatic ways. The first year we began tithing, a supporter of Ananda donated $100,000 to help us finish building the central buildings of The Expanding Light. The foundation for the buildings had been started several years beforehand but had sat covered by tarps for years.
Similarly, the main Ananda School building had been only a subfloor for about 8 years. The year we started tithing, money came in to finish the main School building.
The same year, a man offered to give us a magnificent property near Bodega Bay. Swamiji refused to accept this land as a gift because the man barely knew us. He suggested instead that Ananda start a community on his land to allow the donor to get to know us and thereby make a more informed decision. This land became a marvelous Ananda community called Ocean Song, where many Ananda members served and grew for a number of years.
At this same time, Ananda began the outreach that led to the founding of Ananda Centers in Sacramento and San Francisco. As Ananda’s work expanded, a Circle of Joy reached out to serve supporting members who lived in other parts of the country.
Gradually, our businesses began to draw in income and a true economy, albeit a simple-living economy, began to flourish here. The more income flowed in, the more we were able to create new avenues of service and giving; the more new avenues came into being, the more income flowed in.
Though the cash amount we initially contributed from our minimal salaries was small, these early tithes expressed our devotion and trust in God, and most especially, our desire to give back to Him in a material way. From the beginning, the practice of tithing generated a magnetism that attracted wealth to the community.
As the community grew, the financial strength of individual members grew also. It is the practice of tithing that has built the successful community we have today.
Though it is understandable for someone new to tithing to see the practice as for those who have money left over after meeting existing financial needs, in reality, tithing is fundamental to everyone’s connection with God and to everyone’s success on all levels, material as well as spiritual.
Here’s a simple way of understanding this principle: Think of looking at your paycheck and thinking: “Here is all I have to pay my bills. How can I meet my obligations if I tithe before I pay my creditors?” Notice how contractive that way of thinking feels.
Now think instead, “This paycheck comes from God. I know God is taking care of my every need. I gratefully acknowledge His blessing by returning a portion of my income to Him as a tithe.” Notice how expansive this response feels in your mind and your heart! It is a statement of faith that God will listen to your prayers, will respond — will stand by you to the end.
Here is an excerpt from a handwritten letter from Master to my great-uncle, Dr. Charles Grosby, expressing the connection between giving and God’s blessings.
Dear Dr. Grosby,
This letter is to request you to stand back of centre [the SRF center in St.Louis] and do best to help save it. If you do, God will save you in every way. God has saved you thru a great trial — He can save you thru greater trials of keeping your health well. God supports your business by giving you talent and health even though you have over-used your energy. So your business should support God’s work. And if you do so His law will give you untold protection — above all communion. —P. Yogananda
If you’ve been reluctant to tithe, Jyoti (head of our tithing ministry) or I are happy to connect you with one of the many folks here who have found miracles of abundance coming through their tithing.
In divine friendship,
For Ananda’s “Thank you, God” tithing