Giving is one of the salient features of spiritual life. It is implanted in us as a duty to give to the poor and needy people, to give to religious and welfare organizations, to give to health institutions such as hospitals, and so forth. The act of giving is a noble one. It enhances our compassionate nature, and elevates us to a higher level of spirituality. We can say that it makes us happy and makes God happy.
But the art of giving requires us to understand what makes giving spiritual. Does giving gifts for birthdays, mother’s and father’s days, or other celebrations constitute spiritual giving? Perhaps we can say that this type of giving, when there is no obvious need or suffering, is given as a token of love or appreciation or thanks. The first type of giving occurs when there is a demonstrable need, and would alleviate suffering.
Satguru Kabir divided giving into three parts depending on the nature of the giver: 1. Giving once you see a need and without being asked. This would be equivalent to milk. 2. Giving after being asked. This would be equivalent to water. 3. Giving after arguing and insulting. This would be equivalent to blood. His words in Hindi are:
अनमांगे मिले तो दूध बराबर, मांगे मिले यो पानी; कहे कबीर वह खून बराबर, जामे ऐंचातानी.
Spiritual giving also implies that you give without feeling you would suffer a lack. Satguru Kabir said it ought to be like a river. A bird takes a beakful of water but the river does not diminish. In his words:
चीड़ी चोच भर ले गयी, नदि न घटयो नीर, दान देवे धन न घटे, कह गए दास कबीर.
Behind spiritual giving is the understanding that nothing belongs to you. Whatever you say that you have is a gift from God. That is why Satguru Kabir said that if you give what is not yours, there is no loss to you.
Let us have a generous heart and help to improve the life of others. It would be a great blessing!