"The act of giving is a source of blessing for two parties. A wise Chinese proverb says: 'A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.' Generosity can give you joy, it can remind you of the purpose of life, it can give you greater connection with the vast expanse of humanity, and it can give you the power to change the world. You, as the giver, have the opportunity to make positive changes in your own life by giving," writes Lauren Tyler Wright, former program manager at the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University. She is now a researcher and seminar leader on the topic of generosity in faith communities.
All of the world's religions have acknowledged the sacred art of giving and its manifold benefits. They bloom under the umbrella of practices including stewardship, almsgiving, zakat (alms tax), sadaqah (voluntary charity), dana (giving), charity, chesed (loving-kindness), tzedakah (righteous giving), and tikkun olam (repairing the world). In this paperback, Wright presents the philosophy of generosity replete with illustrative material and a toolkit for putting this lifestyle choice into practice. The book is divided into the following chapters:
• Giving as Worship: Responding to God's Generosity with Joyful Gratitude
• Giving as Stewardship: Managing Our Abundance
• Giving as Redemption: Restoring Money as Life-Giving Legal Tender
• Giving as Charity: Providing for the Needy with Compassion
• Giving as Justice: Believing in and working Toward Righteous Equality
In her ample discussions of giving, Wright covers many different layers of it, including the significance of the offering at churches, the secret of holding lightly to your possessions, the energy drain of seeing the world as a place of scarcity, the sacred act of budgeting, giving to organizations, tithing, the gifts of charity, and sharing nonmonetary extra-abundance. Here is a sampler of some of the pithy quotations in the book, which is part of Skylight Path's The Art of Spiritual Living series:
• "Even a smile is charity."
The Prophet Muhammad
• "When you see someone practicing the Way of giving, aid him joyously, and you will obtain vast and great blessings."
• "The natural response of a mind that sees scarcity is to grab for as much as it can get for itself."
Lauren Tyler Wright
• "When a sparrow sips in a river, the water doesn't recede. Giving charity does not deplete wealth."
A Punjabi proverb
• "Charity is equal in importance to all other commandments combined."
Talmud Baba Batra 9a
• "Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you."