By Rev. Lauri Boyd, Minister, Unity of Columbia, MO
Lately, there seems to be much turmoil in the world. I have found it easy to focus on what I believe is wrong, and even easier to fall into worry and then act as if the bad things I fear have already happened. Yet, one of the principles I accept as truth says, the things that I focus my attention and energy on tend to increase. Paradoxically, this means that if I focus my attention and energy on things that I fear, I make it more likely that those things will happen.
Some people believe that the opposite of resistance is doing nothing. I disagree. Instead of focusing on things we fear, we can focus on the things we value most deeply, and seek opportunities to turn those values into positive actions. We can put our energy into calling forth thoughts, words and behaviors that reflect our most deeply held values.
One way of moving from values to action is through the practice of spiritual generosity. In exploring this practice, I found that I needed to create a personal definition of what I mean by “generosity” in general, and “spiritual generosity” in particular. Here is my definition.
Generosity is a way of being in which we consciously and intentionally send a steady flow of beneficial energy outward from us into the world.
Generosity becomes Spiritual Generosity when we maintain the awareness that this energy flows from Spirit rather than from our ego self.
We begin by acknowledging that generosity is more than a single action. It is a way of being. It permeates all facets of our life, grounded in who we are, rather than in what we do.
The practice of generosity is conscious and intentional. We are called to make conscious choices, moment-to-moment, as we move through our day.
Generosity is about sending energy. We recognize that this energy can take an infinite variety of forms – time, money, talent, and so on. We do not limit our generosity to a single form of energy but seek a wide diversity. Our only stipulation is that the energy we send forth must be beneficial – helpful, healing, supporting, nourishing.
The energy of generosity flows outward from us. This serves to both empower us and challenge us to know that we have something to give. Who we are matters and what we do is important!
The shift from “generosity” to “spiritual generosity” asks us to radically shift what we mean by the phrase “outward from us”. We are invited to know that we are part of something bigger than our human ego self. Some of us use the word “God” to describe this. Others call it Spirit, the Soul, the Atman, the Higher Power, the capital “S” Self, and so on. Whatever name you use, it is an acknowledgement that we are more than this limited human self we see in the mirror.
I believe that one small remedy to the chaotic times in which we live is to engage in the practice of spiritual generosity.