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Giving: The Treadmill Way, or God's way

by David Truman

Infinite debt vs infinite giving

What should have been given

Earning vs deserving

God's system

The ego's system

Upsides and downsides of ego's system

Payback time

Why payback is never enough

No order of magnitude in beauty

The Divine system of deserving

Fulfillment: here or far?

When the treadmill ends

It's human nature to want to give, to contribute. But of course, there are different ways to give, and different reasons. Today I want to talk about pure giving vs. the all-too-common problem, a treadmill of giving that goes on and on, but never seems to satisfy anyone.

Sometimes a sense of being on a treadmill comes from a feeling of being in debt, spiritually or emotionally. In that case, a person may work and work, and feel somewhat exhausted but not stop, because they feel that they still haven't completely repaid their debt -- whether it be a debt to society, a debt to friends, whatever.

Note that this feeling of indebtedness is different than the ordinary obligation to pay one's bills. It is the feeling of owing restitution. The heart wants to be out from under that debt, so it can do what it really wants, which is to give freely, not from a sense of obligation or compensation.

What are we compensating for? Guilt, shame, and insecurity. It reminds you of the man who gets divorced and pays alimony. Then he remarries, again divorces, and pays another alimony. He ends up working two jobs, and yet he still feels it's just not enough -- he is too far in arrears. Perhaps he feels ashamed that he wasn't able to satisfy his mate. Perhaps he feels he didn't love her well enough, like in the song,

"Maybe I didn't love you half as much as I could have."

So he pays alimony out of guilt. A common male situation, isn't it? And there's a similar situation for a woman: What about the one who works her fingers to the bone out of guilt? She works forever, but again, it never seems to be enough -- not even close.

Infinite debt vs. infinite giving

That treadmill of indebtedness is a far cry from our natural desire to give. According to our natural impulses, if a man really loves a woman, she wants to serve him to infinity. But that is not from a sense of debt, you see? It is really just a beautiful response to beauty. As you know, beauty responds to beauty. Beauty is infinite, and the natural response to beauty is infinite. Infinity begets infinity.

Obviously, freely given service is different than debt payment or alimony. It is a high flow game of infinity -- all for all. And it is a most natural process because, by God, people are naturally inclined to infinitely give.

But then, interrupting that healthy, beautiful cycle, and replacing it, we have cycles born of shame. Shame creates that other kind of cycle -- the treadmill of infinite work for restitution. Shame results when we "sin" against our own movement to love, serve, and support one another, by wrongly taking from others, instead.

One way to create shame and indebtedness is to actively take from someone. An example is a man who, with malicious intention, burned down someone's house. He was taken to court, found guilty, and ordered to pay restitution. The law of karma -- as ye sow, so shall ye reap -- applies there. What you take away, you should restore. Therefore, the guilty party will give a percentage of his wages for a long time, with the intention of paying back for the house that was wrongly destroyed by his actions.

What should have been given

There's another way to take from someone, and we refer to it as the "sin of omission." These are instances of coulda/shoulda -- in which what should and could have been given was not given, with unfortunate results: disappointment, heartache, deprivation, suffering. And what about the loss of joy that would have been, could have been, and should have been, but was not? For example:

• A mother who could have loved her child but did not.

• A man who could have loved his wife but did not.

• A person who could have been what God made them to be but did not.

In all of these instances, the results are negative, and they happened because the natural response was not allowed; the true Self was not expressed.

For example, the goldfish who would not be gold. It painted itself black, and would not give the inherent joy of the golden glow, which was meant to pleasure the pond, you see, to enlighten the reef. Likewise, there is the tree that refused to wave its leaves when it was time to sway. And it would not give off the oxygen. This is a degradation of the environment on the part of this tree, which refused to give that which a tree naturally, rightly, beautifully gives.

So we have these guilty ones: the mother who won't love her child; the husband who won't love his wife; the goldfish that would paint itself black; and the tree that would not sway when the wind blows, or give off oxygen. All of these would have their wages garnished, because they deprived others of what could have, should have happened -- if only the goldfish would be gold, the tree would sway, and so on.

The beauty that could have happened was, by God, the way things were meant to be, a perfect way of Life. Think back a long time ago. God made the goldfish, and it was gold, and whoever saw the goldfish experienced delight. And because of that happiness, indeed as part of the expression of that happiness, everything was moved to give the goldfish everything. That, friends, is how the goldfish made its living: by the happiness it gave by being what it is -- a goldfish. The natural response of joy caused everything to rush over to it with gifts of their own kind, you see? So they gave it everything it needed, and everything to give it joy.

Earning vs. deserving

Here we can make an important distinction between earning and meriting. As an intelligent person, would you say the goldfish earned everything? Not exactly. More likely, you would say, the goldfish merited everything, and it deserved everything. The goldfish merited everything, by nature -- and it got what it deserved. But you see, although the joy it gave was great, we wouldn't say it earned anything, exactly.

Even merit, if one thinks in terms of relative merit, is a difficult concept in the Kingdom of God. When it comes to the determination of merit, how does one compare or assess the relative merit of clouds, sunsets, and sincerity? You will find in your heart that, when you try to actually rank these on a scale from 1 to 100, or grade them A, B, C, D, or F, you don't know how to establish relative value. Is this person's sincerity worth 78 points out of 100, while that person's sincerity is only worth 37 points? And what of our little goldfish? How does one compare the merit of a goldfish to the merit of a sunset?

Similarly, would a mother say that her second child was worth 72% of the value of her first child, and the third child was worth 30%? No!

Even though we casually judge each other all the time, it never sits well in the heart, as this example shows: Someone suggests, "Let's move the bad people to this side of the room, and have the good people move to the other side." When they hear this kind of talk, everyone cries, "NO!" What's wrong? Obviously, you can't grade people that way. You can't evaluate snowflakes, goldfish, sincerities, or perfections against each other. The evaluation fails because, by God, merit is inherent.

Demerit, on the other hand, is creative -- creative in the destructive sense of the word. Demerit subtracts. Hurts. Deprives. And therefore, it creates the need for reparation, retribution.

God's system

But hold it right there! God's original plan was not based on the idea of demerit -- it was based only on merit -- inherent merit, as in the goldfish. Part of the inherent merit of every being is the natural tendency to give. That natural giving is not about earning, or payback. It is just being oneself, doing what comes naturally.

In the world of beauty, the world God created, the law of karma as we think of it is not operative. That's because in an enlightened world, a world settled in light and life, there is no sin. There is no specific willful act that is destructive to the well-being of many. In a world like that the idea of karma, in terms of creating and repaying debts, cannot exist. There is just beauty and the infinite response to beauty. The goldfish is freely being a goldfish, and has no other agenda that has the effect of depriving others of its true being. So it gives of itself, and it relies only on the merit of that.

That was the original plan, the pure plan. It did not include the concept of sin, which raises the issue of shame, punishment, loss, retribution, and compensation. And nor did it include the concept earning, if earning is construed as "not meriting until and unless . . ."

The ego's system

When things are not natural, we forget -- or reject -- the way of inherent merit and free, natural giving, and go off on a path of action/reaction that veers away from the true track, and runs into the desert. Unfortunate things happen. We give birth to new, optional cycles.

When we neglect or refuse to give freely, we are liable to invest heavily in the concept of earning. For example, a woman enters into relationship with a man, and she says, "I will not accept from you other than what I've earned. I will work for four hours, and in exchange for that four hours, I'll accept this and that from you, precisely."

With the notion of earning, she has monetized her life. In her mind, she earns her merit. And that can be an endless, joyless treadmill, no doubt.

But, at least from the point of view of the ego, earning has an advantage for the earner: It gives her nearly absolute control: "I won't accept anything that I did not earn. That way, I won't be obliged."

Upsides and downsides of ego's system

Earning is different than freely giving -- opposite, in fact. Remember that we said, in God's system, the goldfish gave itself freely, and everything freely gave everything to the goldfish. But ego, you see, doesn't want to give freely. It doesn't want to give much, let alone everything. Furthermore, it hates obligation, and loves power and control.

Now you can see why the ego created the system of earning. As long as ego works for what it gets, it has replaced natural, free giving with its own brand of tit-for-tat giving, in which it can control everything (in theory, at least). If it works for ten hours at $5/hour, it can have $50. If it wants to work for $10/hour, it can have $100. And in the bargain, it has, insofar as possible, escaped obligation, and minimized responsibility. Sound good so far?

Maybe, but we need to look at the downsides of the ego's earning system, because they're considerable. If, instead of giving freely, ego prefers to hold back, then, as a result of withholding, it impoverishes. In some respects, that's like burning down someone's house, or taking away something they had, or should have had.

Here's why that's such a problem:

Because we are naturally inclined to give, withholding involves self-suppression. In that sense, honestly, to withhold is to not be what one is.

But you see, Self is an ultimate value, more valuable than any other gift. So, ego's pattern of withholding who we are robs others of great beauty -- true, natural beauty, which they would have otherwise had. Nothing else can replace that loss. And, as this withholding system impoverishes others, it also impoverishes the one who withholds.

Then, recognizing that we aren't being ourselves, we try harder to be ourselves. But unfortunately, to the extent that we listen to the ego's notion of who we are, what we think it means to "be ourselves" is quite negative. If we act on the ego's notions of self, things only get worse.

Withholding oneself, being the not-self (an ego's version of self) -- it all hurts, it all leaves a mark. And inevitably, one feels social shame, as well as personal emptiness. What comes up next? A perceived need to earn.

Payback time

Payback comes to mind any time one has created great losses due to one's action -- or insufficiency of action, as the case may be. Sins of omission; sins of commission. We all recognize how the decision to not give one's heart, to control things severely, hurts people by depriving them of a infinite wealth -- the treasure of who we are (and the tremendous benefits they could enjoy if we freely gave ourselves). That's what starts a shame cycle that calls us to pay our "victims" back. And that, friends, is the beginning of the treadmill-of-giving experience. In that giving, as long as we're still withholding ourselves, there's no end in sight -- because the debt incurred by withholding Self is an infinite debt, and it's impossible to pay off in cash or labor.

Why payback is never enough

The treadmill is a pattern of trying to pay back in which we eventually come to realize that, when we're talking about trading labor or cash for heart, there's never enough.

Cash for loss of companionship, isn't enough.

Labor for want of heart, isn't enough.

Labor for withholding of Self, isn't enough.

Cash for loss of Life, isn't enough.

It's never enough until and unless we are giving what the people need and want. Until and unless we give people what they are missing, what we deprived them of, we remain on the treadmill.

Why not face it: there are things that no amount of cash or labor can replace. That's why they always have trouble in a court of law when it comes to cases of "wrongful death." For example, if a drunk driver kills somebody's child, the parents of the dead child may go to court, seeking compensation for their loss. Sometimes, it almost seems like they're trying to establish a cash value for a child -- horrors! But of course, as everyone in their right mind knows, the resulting gifts/payments never satisfy. They can't, because in reality, no amount of cash will ever equal the value of a child.

Similarly, when emotionally ungiving men get divorced and work hard to pay alimony, or when women withhold their heart and work their fingers to the bone, they come up against this realization:

No one can equate cash or service with HEART.

Click here to play audio clip
(CAUTION: strong language and passionate feelings)

No order of magnitude in beauty

Obviously, you cannot exchange cash or labor for reality, beauty, children, people. A mother knows, certainly, that all these things are of infinite value. She knows, for example, that one minute of sincerity is equal in value to many minutes.

Jesus told a parable about that -- a tale of a master who had many servants. The story goes like this: Apparently, the master did not specify how much each servant must work on his field. So, one servant comes to work in the morning, another arrives in early afternoon, and yet another arrives in late afternoon. But at the end of the day, they all receive the same payment. The ones who arrived earlier are outraged, but the master says that time spent is not how he judges things.

There were similar reactions on the part of the other brothers about the Prodigal Sons' late arrival. The Prodigal Son was away from home for a long time, but when he came back, his overjoyed father threw him a big party. Seeing that, his brothers complained, "Why does he get such love and good treatment when he was away for so long?" "Because he is my son," the father replied.

The Divine system of deserving

Jesus and I agree on heart values -- and so does every mother, and every enlightened man. But, under the spell of ego, people have a hard time applying heart values to themselves.

Example: You are born into this family, and you get a bicycle. But you say, "I don't deserve a bicycle." Your father replies, "What do you MEAN you don't deserve a bicycle? You're a Smith, aren't you?! ALL the Smiths get bicycles." And, all of the Smiths get virtually everything the father has. This is INHERENT MERIT.

The supermodel hears people say, "You're so beautiful!" But the supermodel replies, "I don't deserve credit for this. I have certain genetics, that's all. Thank my parents, thank God, thank somebody else." To that, I would say, "Well, yes and no. You are beautiful. And regardless of the source of your beauty, it would be impossible for people not to lay flowers at your feet. So you see, you don't have to have earned the flowers, exactly -- you are a flower. And, just because you didn't earn your flowers by conventional means, you don't have to refuse them. You don't have to feel guilty or ashamed, either. If you want, you could just be a happy goldfish. Be gold, and be happy that you were created gold."

Of course, if you prefer, you can take the other path -- cash-on-the-barrelhead. A prodigal sovereign, wanting near-absolute control, considers it preferable to earn each dollar individually. And considers it virtuous that one should "merit" each dollar on that basis.

That's different than the Divine system. But God says it's fine. At least, it's a fine system for a prodigal who feels it necessary to earn everything, and who wants to earn everything. But at the same time, remember, it is perfectly fine with God for nobody to earn their support. Nothing has to be earned under God.

Fulfillment: here, or far?

You're in a free play zone when you try to rate your merit. When you say, "I would never feel good unless I ________," you are taking it on yourself to absolutely create your worth. You are deciding who you are, where you are, and then you proceed accordingly. But remember, the length of a journey depends on where you start. If your destination is New York, you have farther to go if your starting point is San Francisco than if you start from New Jersey. Similarly, your decision about who you are and where you are determines how far you are from worthiness, fulfillment, happiness.

People often make amazing pronouncements, create almost unbelievable pre-conditions for their own happiness. "I won't be happy until I get my bachelor's degree, or until I lose five pounds" -- things like that. And then, right on cue, they will proceed to suffer until and unless this or that. What do you say to that? Whatever they say goes, you know! So you might as well say, "If that's what you think you need, go right ahead." There's no accounting for taste -- or, in this case, waste. You do things to satisfy yourself. Perhaps, therefore, the only valid question is, does it satisfy you?

Friends, the only way to redeem oneself and get off the treadmill is to give/do/be/provide/share exactly that which was withheld. This then, is the way to liberation:

Generously give that precious heart which, in the past, you withheld (or gave insufficiently).

When the treadmill ends

God just wants you to know that earning can be over whenever you decide it's over. It's over when . . .

• the idea of inherent merit replaces the idea of earning.

• you realize, as a good father would realize, that the man who came for half an hour was as meritorious as those who came for all day -- even though he was more of a slacker and the others were harder workers.

• you realize, as a good mother would realize, that each child is of equal value.

• you realize that five minutes of sincerity is as good as gold . . .

And when you're willing to accept the implications of all that, ego's alternative path -- the path of deviance from God's plan -- is finished. It's finished when . . .

• you admit that all love is infinite, and that there is no order of magnitude in love (just as there is no order of magnitude in miracles).

• you see that there is no ranking of God's creations.

Seeing that, you can say goodbye to the treadmill of earning and compensation, and say hello to the other system -- God's system of intrinsic merit. But of course, that's a free will choice. There's no force or pressure involved, so you can take all the time you wish to choose it. If you like, you are certainly free to work your fingers to the bone forever. It is perfectly fine with God, if it's fine with you. Just make sure it really is fine with you.

Generally, when it comes to the treadmill of earning, what we find is perversity, not true satisfaction. For example:

A person approaches a company manager to ask for a job.

The manager asks, "What kind of a job?"

The applicant relies, "I'd like to work in bookkeeping."

"What are your qualifications?"

The guy says, "Well, I've got a Ph.D. in bookkeeping and economics, and I worked at a prestigious firm for fifteen years. And I have the very best reputation."

The manager says, "Great. You're on."

The applicant says, "Well, let's not be too hasty here. How about if I put on a donkey costume and crawl around the building on broken glass for two or three days? Then maybe I'll be ready to accept this employment."

The manager replies, "Fine. Suit yourself."

There's no accounting for waste. What can you say? Different strokes for different folks, right?

God has given free will, and we have creative use of it. We can use our free will wisely -- or not! We can use it to make ourselves happy, or we can use it to make ourselves and others miserable for years. The choice is ours.

But experience shows, the ego's system is not a good system. Nowhere near satisfactory or fulfilling. God's system is the best system -- by far. It satisfies all. All you have to do is choose it.

So, see and embrace the infinite beauty in others, and accept your infinite beauty on behalf of all. Be grateful to your Father for making that beauty, and be grateful to all for manifesting it. Let your heart be a river of love for all, and let your world be a lush and happy Eden, where the River runs through.

by David Truman

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