We’ve all heard these quotes, and there is a measure of truth in them. They reflect a perspective or belief that life is a zero-sum game, that your gain is my loss. When we take on an identity of me versus them, or us/them (us being a team, religion nationality or other identity), we create a duality where there are winners and losers. It is a reality that is based on measurements and limitations. I measure how much I do or have against another. We measure how well our American economy is doing against the Germans or Chinese, or how well Americans are doing in educating our children against the South Koreans or Japanese. When we put on the lenses of this perspective our hearts are not generous and open toward the “other.” There is that sense that those “dogs” out there are eating us alive, or the other way around. From this perspective, giving more means having less. Giving, from this state of being, is an act of calculation that you’ll get something valuable in return for your investment. This world of limitation and measurement is not where giving more and having more applies. When you are in this state of being, it will seem that the phrase is stupid and meaningless.
Of course there is another belief perspective from which ‘Give more and you will have more’ makes perfect sense. I call this perspective the one of Possibility. This is the belief in an abundant universe, where what is real and truly important is not limited. Love, energy, creativity, and resources exist in abundance, and the greater we give these away, the greater they are present in our lives. Just as the world of Newtonian Physics and its Laws of Motion is contained in the Einsteinian Physics of General Relativity, so is the world of Measurement contained within the world of Possibility. I liken it when our family plays Monopoly. From the belief that I must win to show my worth, and thus everyone else must lose for me to succeed, I take certain actions to maximize my ‘wealth’ and resources at others’ expense. Now if I hold the belief of Possibility, the paper money is no longer of any value, nor are the ‘properties’ on the board. What is important is the sharing of the experience, the lightly-held role of land baron I may choose to act out for the purpose of the game, the interaction of all the family members with each other. I’ve already won, not the money in the game of measurement, but the wealth of love and connection that happens in play.
I belong to a local chapter of Business Network International, a network and referral group. Their motto is “Givers Gain.” The idea is that we create the conditions where others want to give us business referrals when we give them referrals. It’s not a numbers game (though all sorts of statistics are measured and reported), but it is essentially a place to build relationships of mutual respect, trust and support. Those that give referrals to others are well-thought of, and tend to get referrals from the rest of the group. Those that don’t give referrals to others tend to drop out of the group because it is not “working” for them.
I’d like to touch on another aspect of giving, its shadow side. All of us, in our wounded parts, have some unfilled needs, be it for attention, acceptance, respect or approval, etc. What is different about these wounded needs is that they can’t be satisfied for any length of time or with a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. These are our social addictions (read my blog on Natural Law #9). You may have recognized people in your life who are like vampires, needing something from others and sucking energy and resources from you or from a group. Such people will never be satisfied because giving to them feeds their addiction, not the person. Giving more in this sense will not create abundance because your giving is only helping their wound, their dependency to survive. There is not fulfillment in that. One must give to the part of others that is wholly human for there to be creative abundance and Possibility. Wound worship and feeding addiction is like playing a scratched CD that endlessly repeats itself and slowly degrades to extinction.
If instead of trying to fill up the endless pit of our wounded neediness we recognize that wound in the world and try to heal it, we are transformed. If I stop running the internal tape of my wound of being abandoned, for example, and instead give my loving connection, loyalty and commitment to others in need, the universe of Limits and measurement gives way to Limitless Possibility. And in the process, my wound begins to heal, and my capacity to love is manifested greater.
Giving for gain, you see, does not work, for it co-creates a universe of limitation. Giving from abundance acknowledges the universe of Possibility, and from here we get to have it all: a rich and fulfilling life lived with others whose lives we enrich and support, in virtuous upward spiral.
Next week: A new series… comment here on your choice of topic.