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What exactly is tithing?

Tithing is a multitude of things: An institution older than thought, a covenant in every religion, a lesson taught in every spiritual discipline. Although tithing is a tradition as old as time, in our modern times it is not a topic as commonly discussed. Tithing is a tool given to teach us the truth about gratitude, abundance and fulfillment in our lives – the fundaments of prosperity consciousness. It is given to us in terms of a “law,” a “mandate,” a “command,” and yet we are at liberty to choose to obey or not, and we are equally at liberty to reap the vast rewards of tithing as well. John Roger writes, “The tithing law is to give 10 percent of one’s increase back to God, with God being represented on the physical level by the source of one’s spiritual teaching – often a church, synagogue, mosque or spiritual teacher.” Yet tithing is so much more than just giving, for the scriptures not only write of what one must do, but what one may reap from it. For tithing is not something that depletes our resources, but multiplies, increases them.

Wherever we look, we can find that with the mandate our spiritual teachers have given us, we are also promised that by trusting the Infinite, and giving as we are directed, we will be blessed beyond any expectation.

Christianity and Judaism both refer to texts from the Old Testament stipulating tithes, and teaching what will come of it. Christians required members of the church to pay a tenth part of the annual produce of their land or its equivalent in money to support it and the clergy. This is traditionally called tithing (tithe=10), while traditional Judaism obligates Jews to give at least 10% of their income to charity as Tzedakah.

“A tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Lev 27:32) and “Test me in this… and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour our so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Mal 3:10)

In Islam that act of charity, Zakaah, is a part of the “Five Pillars of Islam.” The Qu’ran cites that Zakaah is mandatory, but also teaches that wealth will never be decreased by charity. The Zakaah requires assignment of 2.5% of one’s annual wealth for the welfare of the destitute and the needy.

The Prophet Mohammed said: “Islam is based upon five pillars: to make Shahadataan (declaration of faith), to establish Salaah (formal prayer), to give Zakaah (charity), to make Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadaan), to perform Hajj (pilgrimage to the Ka’bah).” (Hadeeth Collection Muslim Sahih Muslim, 1:10, no. 20) and “Whatever you spend [for good] He replaces it, and He is the best of Providers.” (Qu’ran, Chapter 34, Verse 39).

While Buddhist texts encourage giving, they do not stipulate an amount. “If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds.” Itivuttaka Sutra. And: “In the proper season they give — those with discernment, responsive, free from stinginess. Having been given in proper season, with hearts inspired by the Noble Ones — straightened, Such — their offering bears an abundance. Those who rejoice in that gift or give assistance, they, too, have a share of the merit, and the offering isn’t depleted by that. (AN V .36)

References in classical Hindu societies urge householders to reserve a part of their income for Brahmans as well as part for the gods. “He is liberal who gives… Success comes to him in the challenge of battle, and for future conflicts he makes an ally.” (Rig Veda 10.117.1-6)

In Sikhism, the tradition of Dasvandh (das = tenth, vandh = giving), is mandated in the Sikh scriptures.

“Who gives to Guru, does not suffer loss.” (Bachittar Natak); and Bhai Gurdas counts tithe among the seven virtues of a Sikh: truth, contentment, compassion, duty, naam, tithe and cleanliness.

We give one-tenth of our time to the Infinite by meditation, yoga and prayer. We give back to our communities through community growth funds (and even taxes!), and we give back to God one-tenth of what we earn, which, as many a spiritual teacher has pointed out, belongs to God in the first place.

The lessons of tithing and of Universal Prosperity are much deeper than the movement of hands, or a mantra. It is a deep ingratiating process of trusting the Infinite, trusting that God will provide, and that there will be enough. It is almost natural at first that we may balk at giving at all. Then we may give a small amount somewhat begrudgingly. Occasionally we may feel compelled to increase the amount we tithe in small increments. But slowly the trust escalates. It is an extraordinary process of internal trust and growth, which one can only truly know through personal experience.

Someone said to me recently: “This month I can see that I will be a little short on funds. So I decided to increase my Dasvandh contribution and let God deal with it. And He has!” I have seen her go from giving a small monthly donation only because she felt she had to, to being inspired to increase her donations of her own accord. The money figures are secondary to the element of trust growing inside her until the point where it is natural for her to think, “It is my duty to give and God’s duty to provide, and I will not interfere with this order. In fact, I trust it so implicitly, that I depend on it now.”

I got a call from a dentist in Pennsylvania. He told me that in reviewing his records he found whenever he had tithed, the revenues in his new practice had soared. He called to start a monthly EFT tithing program, because he wanted to rest assured that this would always be the case. When I checked back with him he said that since he had made that decision, and started donating via EFT, the income from his practice had been excellent every month.

There is a woman who calls once a year, of her own accord, to increase her monthly Dasvandh donation. When I asked if she had any experiences to share, she told me that she had enough money already, and so she tithed with the intention of serving her children. Her daughter, she said, was prospering from this intention wonderfully. Although her daughter’s family had lived in a tiny little house, which needed a lot of work, and turned out to be environmentally unhealthy for her and her family. She was able to fix the house up, sell it very reasonably and move to a nicer house in a better neighborhood, and the prosperity of her family was much better situated. This was all within one year’s time.

There are many stories to tell, but the experience of trust in the Infinite is a very personal, almost intimate experience, in learning to depend thoroughly on the fact that God’s mandate is to give, and we will be provided for. Tithing is God’s law to universal prosperity as well as personal prosperity, and the prosperity of health, joy and abundance in so many forms in our lives. Wherever you are, whatever your station in life, whatever your earnings and expenses, tithing is an avenue for a deeper, more profound connection with the Infinite, because it instills in us absolute and unyielding trust.

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