Thursday, December 31, 2009

By David Anttony

History of Tithing

The origins of tithing can be traced to the Bible, still it is customary among many non-Christians as well as Christians to do some kind of tithing today.

The word tithe has Christian connotations, referring to the contribution of a tenth of one's income for charitable purposes to Church as a kind of Church giving. Anyway, the idea is a part of most world religions. In Islam the word used for this is 'Zakat.' In the Indian religion of Sikhism, there is a rule of keeping apart one-tenth of one's income for spiritual purposes and it is called 'Dasvandh.' The practice has been initiated by the tenth religious head Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Indian scriptures of the Upanisads and the Bhagavadgita, the 'perfect alms' are that which is offered with a sense of obligation in a correct place and at a correct time to a deserving person from whom the giver does not expect anything in return.

The word tithe is derived from the Hebrew word 'asair', which means to give the tenth part of something, often of a person's income. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash. However, there are still European countries that allow the church to mandate tithing and enforce it by law.

Denmark is a case in point where a church tax is mandatory for members of the Church of Denmark. The tax varies in different municipalities. It is mostly about 1% of the taxable income. And in Finland members of state churches have to pay a church tax ranging between 1% and 2.25% of their earnings and the Church taxes are included into the general national taxation process.

Anyway the custom of regular tithes was not instituted until after Exodus. Tithes were popular all across the Near East in olden days, as well as in later Lydia, Carthage and Arabia.

The Hebrew custom of giving tithes finds mention in the Bible, starting with the gift from Abraham to Melchizedek, the Canaanite king and priest (Genesis--:20). Tithing was also common in former Lydia, Carthage and Arabia. The practice of tithing was espoused by the early Christian church, and was discussed in councils at Tours in 567 and at Macon in 585. Formal recognition to these was given under Pope Adrian I in 787.

Tithing in certain Christian churches is a disputed issue as it deals with an Old Testament process to a New Testament institution (the Church). There is no proof in the New Testament that tithing can be applied to Christians. In fact, it was obligatory only on those Jews who were living in the Promised Land to pay the tithe according to the Old Testament, as it was in reality a form of income tax required to support not just the government of the Israel of the Old Testament, but also its religious institutions and priests.

Present day Tithing

In spite of its origins in the Bible and olden day Christianity, nowadays it is a perfect way to give every time you get something. Giving EVERY time you get things is such a perfectly beautiful form of giving as it allows the giver to feel in fullness something indescribably powerful - more on that afterwards.

Let us have a little more of history. Malachi 3:10 is the section of the Bible that Christians hold in importance when they deliberate on tithing. Many Christians do tithe to their church as they feel that they are duty bound to do as per the rules of the Bible. Many Churches have all throughout maintained that their members should tithe to the church to help it conduct its activities. The core of giving is its voluntary nature and its delightful experience, without which it does not get its ideal effect - if in fact you are hoping to create an ideal effect by giving.

Disagreements about Tithing

Tithing has often been a contentious topic. The issue whether a Christian should pay tithe is often argued in many Christian congregations.

An article has been published in Wall Street Journal about tithing under the title 'The Backlash Against Tithing', in which the writer Suzanne Sataline says, 'As Churches push donations, congregants balk; 'that's not the way God works'.'

Regrettably, the different ideological perspectives, desire to dominate, and a narrow outlook, can lead to a Jekyll and Hyde scenario - the pure goodness of giving being lost in the fog and misinterpretation of religion. In spite of the disputes, tithing is still a fully and marvellously powerful act that any person can do to turn around their lives to face a fuller pathway.

For those who are interested in finding out more about a Christian perspective in tithing there are plenty of materials to go through. For those who are keen on knowing the reason WHY tithing is so compelling, what follows will be useful.

Why is Tithing so powerful?

This is indeed a powerful question because if you just mindlessly follow something without knowing some key background pointers you may be heading in the wrong direction.

If more people who regularly tithed knew exactly why tithing works when it is done in the spirit of pure giving, then it would probably unleash a greater desire to give even more. And for those that give irregularly, it could inspire them to give first every time they received.

To look at the real 'why' of how regular giving creates more we have to move into the world of Quantum Physics and Quantum Mechanics. The laws in this world are not the same as in our physical or Newtonian world.

The picture 'What the Bleep' paints the quantum world through easily graspable examples. The link to the movie here gives some details about how matter gets converted into waves and behaves like liquids when seen from a quantum physics angle:

The film portrays a wonderful world seen from a quantum space. When a beam of electrons is shot through an opening in a plate onto a wall - as is expected, it would hit in a straight line on the flat surface just opposite the opening.

If you repeat the experiment but this time using an energy wave that behaves very much like a water wave would do you get a predictable result. As the wave hits the plate it bounces off the place but where the slit exists some of the wave goes through the slit. On the other side of the slit the wave opens out in an arc fashion forming a new wave just like the old experiments you would have done at science school with waves patterns. As the wave hits the wall it hits with the most intensity in the middle right opposite the slit then hits with less intensity all along the wall. This is similar to the line the electrons make.

If we added a second slit in the plate, again we would get a predictable result with the wave experiment - two small waves would appear through the slits and when those new waves touch each other they would cancel each other out creating an interference pattern. Several waves would now hit the wall making a stripped affect on the wall. All this is as expected for wave energy behavior, so nothing new here.

Here is where the whole experiment takes on an entirely different direction. When electrons are sent through the two cuts in the plate, what should ordinarily result are two lines in the wall opposite. On the contrary what one sees is a stripped appearance with an intersecting pattern. This is unbelievable. The matter seems to have been turned into a wave. We can perhaps imagine that electrons were hitting against each other and ricocheting and causing a wave pattern; so if electrons are sent across separately the result should be different. But it is not, it is the same. The explanation has to be that the electron leaves as a single particle, and splits into a wave on collision with the plate, then goes across through the cuts and intervenes with itself after that on the other side. This idea of solid having fluid properties -or mattering acting like a wave - is totally surprising. The world is much more than we understand it to be.

Despite the apparent 'solidness' of this world that we live in, it would appear that actually we live in a world that is more like a liquid - liquid energy or flux, which behaves like liquids in our physical world. And as we know from simple physics that fluids of a similar nature always come together and those of a dissimilar nature move apart and separate into clear areas of distinction. Oil and water is a simple example of this. Chromatography also shows the effect very graphically when a single substance can separate into its individual substances in clear bands much like how large groups of people split off into smaller groups of similar interest, energy or intention.

The essence of it is that we feel total fulfilment when we give a thing to another. The act of giving, the sense of bliss of it, is the greatest of all gifts. It is wrongly understood that he who is in receipt of the object is the only receiver and people fail to notice that it is the one who gives who is the real recipient. If you're not still convinced, then look at yourself among children and see how fulfilled you become when you give to them whatever their reaction be.

When we understand that we are first giving to ourselves when we give and that we do this because we want to feel joy then we have a key. This key unlocks the door of understanding to giving. And when we give repeatedly the momentum builds up just like a wave getting bigger and bigger the more we add to it with our giving.

The truth that we feel happy when we gift things alters our power equation fully - we feel good and in that moment we are lovelier to others. Have you ever known a vendor on the street peddling things that we do not want like tissues, which you usually do not buy, but one day you buy and the motive for doing it is just to see that vendor happy and relieved? A similar situation could be seen in relations to buskers playing music at a street corner.

A happy person exudes a natural warmth that attracts others to him and in doing so he becomes rich in life's lessons. It is so easy. They draw to them those who have never known that sensation and so want to feel it, or even those who have fully known the pleasures of that feeling.

Exactly like water and oil, those who give and those who do not give are compartmentalised in different groups. And the ideal place where one can receive something is there where givers congregate! But you can remain in that group only as long as you gift things! Givers enjoy giving to others who give.

So even if we may turn to quantum physics for our solutions, they are very much there right in front of us. Similar attracts similar - simple. Wherever you look you see this going on. Lions group together with lions, students interact with students, women form groups with women, men makes friends with men, 'poor' likes to be with 'poor' people and 'rich' with 'rich' people. And in the same way - givers prefer the company of givers.

So if you give from a sense of self-reproach then it will only boomerang on you - you will just attract to you like-minded others who have a guilt complex and cannot be contented and delighted. The borderline between remorse and anger is narrow; so people gifting things out of a sense of guilt tend to turn in that direction. Joy is one of the highest of human emotions - and from there one can only turn to love - and that is what all of us are forever searching for.

So when you start giving you are two steps away from love - pretty amazing to think that isn't it. Especially seeing most people are desperately seeking love. Now we know the answer is simple - go get giving! And of course giving money is just a small part of giving - giving in general will create a space of joy for us, no matter how 'small'.

There is also a mental aspect to giving steadily. Even though at first this facet of it may not seem related to the feeling of happiness - in the end it right away brings us into contact with the supreme experience of joy.

When we give something - especially something we don't feel we have much of - then we send a powerful signal to our brain that life can be trusted. When we give something and later on we look back and we observe that all worked out well we connect with trust. The opposite of trust is fear. So again, a party of fearful people would not be a happy and joyful one so their attraction point would be pretty darn low. However, a party of trusting people would be a joyful experience and would attract others seeking that experience. So in the end when we trust it converts to joy and again we are only one step away from the number one thing that most of us are seeking - love.

The sum and substance of what has been ignored for years is fully in front of us for anyone to bond with in finely. For Christmas my son got a good amount of money. I queried him as to what he planned to do with all that money. He replied that he wanted to set aside almost whole of it. Then I enquired how much of it he would like to give to someone. It was something that he had not even taken into account until I introduced the idea. What would be the result if upon receiving anything our first consideration was to give away part of it - do you think we would know delight in abundance?

Transaction based donating - or transaction based benevolence

This shows us the way to the potency of transactional giving. Many organisations give when they have plenty of money. When they do not have extra they choose not to give. Due to this their level of happiness rise and fall on the basis of market fluctuations - they have no regulation over it. But those who share EVERY time they get are in command and bond with their feeling of joy consistently.

Transactional giving rather than lump sum giving is tied into the business profit cycle so it is a 'no-brainer' way of giving. Now every time you receive something you give something - simple. If you have a slow month you still give, but less based on sales. And as your business booms you can give more.

One of the key powers of transaction based giving is that you can share the joy of giving so easily with all stakeholders - customers/community - staff - and business. Because a customer knows that when they buy from you they get to give without it costing them anything except the energy to choose and shop with you they feel ownership of the giving - hence traditional CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility, coverts readily to Customer Social Responsibility, with your customer being able to powerfully respond to the giving by talking about you and have an additional emotional albeit intangible reason, for choosing to continue shopping with you.

Members of the staff also get a chance to participate in the pleasure because every time they are part of making a sale, they know full well that they had their role in giving something to someone who needed that help. The event generates a strong sense of camaraderie within the team that promotes team spirit and motivates the team members.

Any venture, even a completely new one with no profit margin, can manage Buy1GIVE1 transaction-based giving - there are no problems in every sense to be part of it and everything is controlled by the business. The payment amount per deal begins from as low as one cent and rises to any large amount the person can decide with every business left to choose their own type of gifting and providing to sustain on the basis of their business type and success. There is simply no justification not to give in this manner when the advantages that ensue from giving are so many. Enterprises that are presently giving to a cause can easily change over very promptly and effortlessly to Buy1GIVE1 transaction-based giving while still helping the same cause giving additional substantial benefits to the venture.

When the game is over business -based giving is a present day form of tithing that is practical and possible for anyone, at any place. Now that we realise that it is not about the actual money that we give such as a tenth of the income, but only the fact that we are gifting it that makes the change. When we enter the fraternity of donors we move into a special and fortunate world that only those who give to others are allowed to enter. And unless you start giving today itself, you just may not start doing it and might never will till you start. So begin today.

'We're not here to donate to 'get back.'. We're here to give more and more.

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