This festive time of year seems to be when the topics of money, scarcity, and abundance reach their annual crescendo. It’s impossible to avoid the onslaught of holiday advertising bombarding us from every direction. You only need turn on the televisions or radio; look at a computer or your phone. Billboards and buses are blanketed with gift ideas; mailboxes are crammed full of flyers, ads, and coupons. Black Friday… Cyber Monday, stores opening at six AM.
Retailers have become expert at whipping the buying public into a spending frenzy. Built on a foundation of guilt, those of us living in the Christian world are reminded daily of our obligation to buy, buy, buy for family, relatives, friends, coworkers, the mailman, the dog, or just about anyone else we know or chance to encounter on a regular or semi-regular basis. ‘Tis the season of giving, after all, and only a selfish, heartless, and uncaring knave with a heart of coal would dare ignore this seasonal imperative, right?
We’ve all been taught it’s better to give than receive. Giving something to someone we care about feels good. And if it feels good, it must be the correct thing to do. As Shaltazar points out, however, it does feel good to give – until the credit card bill arrives causing that good feeling to melt away as the anticipation of having to pay stokes our overarching feelings of lack and scarcity.
The problem with the current giving paradigm is the intended benefit of the giving is illusory due to the energy surrounding the gift. If the giving is being done from a place of obligation, the vibration of the gift is empty, tainted by the forced nature of the act. Even if the giving is from a place of love, the material nature of the gift itself carries with it a material, earthbound energy not in alignment with the love which initially motivated the giving. As such, it is not only important what we give, but more so why we give.
When our motivation is love, why not give love rather than a physical surrogate of that love? We live in a time when our material needs are mostly accounted for. By in large, we all have food, clothing, and shelter. Add a few necessities attendant with our current social complexities such as a vehicle and perhaps a couple electronic gadgets, and there really isn’t much we need, although much we likely want. That said, none of us really need a new tie, or a sweater, or a scarf, or a watch. What we truly need – what all mankind is seeking and craving – is love, compassion, empathy, understanding, friendship, support, and connectedness.
All things material are temporary. Accordingly, a material gift can only bring temporary joy or satisfaction. If, however, we were to give the gift of our time, our empathy, our support, our compassion, or our friendship, we are giving something timeless and priceless. We are giving something they don’t sell in stores. We are giving of ourselves; we are giving love.
Granted, this sort of giving is more difficult. It requires a pouring out of our fundamental Source energy which can be depleting and exhausting to the giver. This is why Shaltazar suggests that before we give, we must first learn to receive.
I believe the reason that nagging sense of wrongness seems to surround this time of year is because the nature of all the giving is disconnected from Source. Like an electronic device which needs a charge to function, we must reconnect to Source to recharge our capacity to give, to love. Only when we’ve first filled ourselves with Source energy can we then extend that energy to others. We need to top-off our own tank with peace, abundance, gratitude, and compassion before we are able to offer those qualities to someone else. We must first receive before we can effectively give.
Counselors and therapists will tell you they must clear themselves before and after a session with a client or patient – essentially charging themselves with love and compassion beforehand so they have something valuable to give, then re-charging themselves after the giving so as not to remain depleted.
During my summers in high school, I worked as a lifeguard. Part of our CPR training required learning how to administer the “breath of life” whereby the rescuer would fill his or her lungs with air, then blow that air into the lungs of the unconscious, non-breathing victim. Giving without first receiving is like trying to offer the breath of life without first inhaling. You have nothing inside of you to give.
Shaltazar encourages us to take some time to create space inside of us which we can fill with infinite Source energy. Tell the universe you are open to receiving the gifts it will send you, and feel yourself become full as that energy charges your soul with love. You should now feel more in the place of connectedness. Then when you give that tie or sweater or watch, the recipient will also receive the compassion, kindness, empathy, and love with which the material object is now infused.
The beauty of this approach is it eventually becomes an automatic way of relating to the world. And wouldn’t the world be a better place if giving in this was a universally accepted, 24/7/365 way of life, not just something we feel compelled to do each December?
Season’s greetings, with love and light,
Jeffrey and Mark