The Cosmos was created as an expression of The Supreme Reality - that which we may call God or by any other name. It is meant to be a self-sustaining interaction of life-forces. Each element of the Universe serves the purpose of another entity. The Sun shines to energize everything around us. Air breathes life, while Water sustains life itself. Animals & plants form the essential food-cycle of our World. All forms of life, from a single-cell organism possessing only a "body" to the next higher forms of animals & plants possessing both "body & mind" eventually serve the use of another life-form in this Universe. Human beings are the only species blessed with an "intellect" in addition to "body & mind". The intellect is intended to help humans evolve to realize The Supreme Truth.
The human quest for self-actualization is often hampered by materialistic egotism. Instead of making ourselves useful to others in the Universe, we try to grab the maximum of everything, for ourselves. Rapacious exploitation of nature's resources and fellow beings, however, brings us more long-term misery vs momentary happiness.
The only long-term happiness lies in realizing our true selfless nature, and accepting that we are here, in this World, to be of use to others. We cannot smile when others around us are crying. How can we enjoy our meal when many are going hungry ? How can we inhabit palatial houses when multitudes are homeless? Can we be happy splurging when other families can barely survive ? True peace can come only by performing an altruistic act.
By putting a smile on somebody's face, we can make our soul smile. Alleviating another person’s suffering can help us cope with our own miseries.
One day, we will leave this World without any of the material possessions we so ardently hoard throughout our lives. Empty handed we came, and empty handed shall we go. But we can leave behind a legacy of having made a difference in somebody else's life.
So let us take a little time out of our pre-occupation with feeding our bodies & egos, to focus on the nourishment of our soul. And what better satisfaction can we get but from giving selflessly.
There is a common essence in the teachings of all spiritual masters & religions of the World.
Of the ten "Niyamas" (observances or practices) to be followed under the Hindu philosophy, the third niyama, Giving or Charity (Daana) requires offering one-tenth of your gross income (dasamamsa) as God's money for various causes. Rig Veda (10.117.5. VE, 850-851) states:
"The powerful man should give to one in straights;
Let him consider the road that lies ahead!
Riches revolve like a chariot's wheels,
Coming to one man now, then to another".
The Bible also states:
Acts 20:35 - "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive".
One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat which means to purify one's possession of wealth by distributing a prescribed amount to the poor. It has been mentioned, along with daily Prayers (Salaat), over seventy times in the Quran. Allah's word commanding ".....and establish regular Salaat and give regular Zakat....." are referred to in many parts of the Quran. Those who fulfill this duty have been promised abundant reward in this world and hereafter.
Sikhism advocates sharing in Guru's saying:
"He who eats what he earns through honest work and shares with others,
he alone O Nanak recognises (follows) the true path in life".
The precept of Dasvand was evolved to encourage Sikhs to set aside 10% of their income for common cause of the community.
Sikh Gurudwaras serve free food (langar) to all without distinction of religion, caste & social status.
Giving to the poor is an obligation in Judaism, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who are themselves in need. "Tzedakah" enjoins upon all Jews to give 10% of their earnings as an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due.
By giving, we can get much more - of real peace, contentment & enduring happiness.
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