“No real or lasting good comes of any gift bestowed on another unless the heart goes with it, and its bestowal is to the giver an act of unalloyed pleasure. Because something else goes with the material gift, the food, the shelter, the loan, which though not seen, and little known, is more important than the form itself. That is the thought that goes with it, which thought strongly affects, for good or ill, the person who receives the gift.
“If, as giving within your means, you bestow the merest trifle in money upon a person in need, and the thought that goes with it is not only the most sincere desire to help that person, but you feel a keen sense of pleasure in giving any such help, then you throw upon that person a certain thought-element which will never leave them, and benefit them eternally and in proportion to the quality, power and force of your thought.
“But if you give grudgingly, if you give under any sort of compulsion, than your gift does relatively little good, no matter on whom bestowed.” ~Prentice Mulford
The Gift of Giving
I’m sure most of us have heard many times that it is better to give than to receive. We are told to share, to give without measure, etc. Rarely is the thought and feelings behind the giving mentions. Mr. Mulford is correct in saying that those thoughts and feelings are at least as important as the gift itself
Giving of Yourself
Real giving means giving of yourself. By that I mean that you are giving because you want to. You are giving because you genuinely want to help the other person or group. It is giving of yourself when you give what you yourself can use, but as a generous person, you share with others. That is why poor people are often the best givers. They may not give much, but they give of what they themselves need, and do so willingly and with love.
Wealthy individuals and corporations give large amounts of money which is certainly appreciated by the charities they give it to. But they often give for the wrong reasons. Some give merely to get a tax break. This is especially true of corporations. Others do it merely to look good in the eyes of the public or themselves.
A wealthy person who has robbed thousands of people through shady business deals may make himself feel better by donating a small percentage of that money to charity. A corporation that makes weapons of war may try to improve their public image by giving to a charity that feeds the hungry, or brings medicine to undeveloped regions.
While there is benefit to the recipients of this type of giving, it is limited. While it may be improved by the true goodness of the volunteers distributing it, it is still limited.
Give More Than Things
The point Mulford is making is that giving happens on at least two levels; the physical and the mental. The old saying that “if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life” is true. But there is more to it than that.
If a poor man gives a homeless person a sandwich out of true love and concern, he doesn’t just feed him one meal. He is also sending that person positive thoughts. Those thoughts can help that person for much longer than the food. What’s more, the person receiving the gift is returning positive thoughts because he understands that the person is giving of himself and giving from the heart. This exchange of positive energy is very important to all of us who desire a long, happy, and healthy life.
Even in those situations where you are unable to give anything material, simply sending positive thoughts to the person is providing benefit.
Giving can happen on several levels. We give things like food, clothing, and money on the physical level. We give loving thoughts on the mental level. And we give energy on the spiritual level. All levels of giving are important. And all levels can be corrupted when done for the wrong reasons.