The Money Tree


Did you know that there are two very different ways that we can give?

One is a pure unconditional gift. We see someone in need, or asking for help, and we reciprocate by giving them what they are asking for.

Most often they are asking for money, however money is simply a form of energy. It’s one of our Universal currencies, but not the only one. Someone could just as easily be asking for love or acceptance or forgiveness, or a roof over their head.

It feels good to give in this unconditional way, doesn’t it?

But is it really unconditional? And if it is unconditional, is it the “right” way to give?

I’ve recently had the opportunity to explore this topic of giving.

When we give in this “unconditional” way, there is a very subtle pay-back we receive. We’re following the principle of, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.

When we give to someone in need, on some level it reassures us that there are “good” people out there in the world (like us), who care so much about others that they would help them in their time of need.

The subtext here is that if we were ever in dire need, someone with a kind heart would come to our own aid, just as we are doing for others.

And, on the other hand, we are investing into the world we want to see – a world that contains kindness and generosity of Spirit and selflessness.

A dear friend of mine was going through a difficult time financially, and she was deeply touched by the people who were themselves in tight financial situations, yet they dug into their own pockets to help her. 

I was reminded of the analogy of someone who “gives the shirt off their back”.

In other words, someone who would be willing to do anything to help another person who is suffering.

Even A Course in Miracles teaches this concept, in the statement, “Give all to all”. This comes from an understanding that nothing should stand in the way of our giving. If someone asks us for something, give it.

Why? Because the commodity (be that money, forgiveness, or love) is only energy.

It’s unimportant, and it does not make us who we are. By withholding energy, we are creating a barrier to love. By giving energy, we are affirming that we’re part of a limitless source of energy, and it can expand within us as we give it away. We are living in love and abundance, not fear.

That’s a really beautiful concept, and one we can all learn from….but is it the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

I reflected on this in my own life.

I observed that the people who were giving the shirt of their back to help their friend seemed to have no money themselves.

How could this be? Wouldn’t the mere act of giving so selflessly create a vacuum that draws more money to itself? Isn’t this what’s supposed to happen?

Or is there something else going on in this equation of giving, which is hidden from the surface….something that somehow “taints” the giving?

What if the giver absolutely loves to give?

What if it’s such a deep value for them, that giving gives them utter delight? They give with no thought to the consequence, because it makes them feel so good to give. They give, even if it’s to their own detriment. They give, even if it’s not needed or truly appreciated.

They can’t imagine life without giving, so they thrive on situations where they can give.

And what if, by doing this, they sometimes override Universal Law, and give in a way that is ineffective or does harm?

Sometimes, the most powerful way for a person to change direction is to first hit rock bottom. Sometimes, giving is not the way to help them…in fact, it may actively harm them, or simply delay the conditions required for a necessary change.

Think about a drunk in the gutter, begging for alcohol. Would giving them a drink, or money to buy more booze, be the highest way to support them?

The Lost Teachings of Atlantis teaches an opposing concept to A Course in Miracles. It talks about the difference between unconditional love, and unselfish love.

Unconditional love is when we give what is asked for, without conditions. Unselfish love is when we are a servant of Spirit, and we actively seek guidance on what to give that person that will have the greatest impact. The aim is to give them what they truly need, and not necessarily what they are asking for, or think they need.

This is a challenge that every parent faces. When my child throws a tantrum, do I give in to them and give them what they are asking for? Is that in their best interest?

The flipside of this concept of giving is that withholding giving is not always well received. When the ego just wants to be given to and “loved” (by getting what it’s asking for), it doesn’t always take kindly to being given something different.

So when we practice unselfish love, we also need to embrace being unpopular or disliked at times.

Those people who give to their own detriment are sometimes giving in order to be liked, to create a utopic universe where everything is harmonious and everyone is happy.

They give because they are so uncomfortable with the experience of someone else’s pain….even if that giving may hinder the other person’s journey of growth.

Unselfish Love

As I explore my own opportunities for giving, I realise I have a strong value attached to empowering others, rather than simply giving for giving’s sake.

This principle is beautifully described by the parable of the fisherman. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Many years ago, I was in a position where someone I loved very much was wanting some money. As we talked about what I would give, I began by being even more generous than he was asking. He asked for “A”, and I offered “A+”. These conversations were evolving over a number of months, until one day he told me he believed I should give him “A+B+C”.

In that moment, a light switch was flipped inside of me. It dawned on me that no matter what amount of money I gave, it wasn’t going to be enough.

Where one person would say “Thank you!” and take A+ and turn it into a whole alphabet, other people can be given a whole alphabet and say, “But where the rest of it?”

At the very time that this was unfolding in my life, I went to an Amma retreat. I was sitting in meditation, and in my mind I asked Amma for guidance on what I should do. Should I give A+, or should I give A+B+C?

Amma’s response came into my mind, as clear as a bell. She said, “Give where your giving will have a snowball effect. That’s the true purpose of giving. Never give into a black hole, otherwise you have wasted that energy. It could have done more good elsewhere.”

Ever since receiving this guidance from Amma, I have noticed that my giving has changed. I love to give….but as I reflect on how I am giving, I can see that I’m giving in ways that will evoke change in another person, and not just giving for the sake of giving.

If someone is in financial strife, I look for how and where they are bleeding money, and seek ways to plug those holes.

After all, if we pour water (= money) into a bathtub that has no plug in it, our water will go down the drain with everything else. Aren’t we much better to find a plug first?

But what if someone doesn’t want to find a plug?

What if they want to be given to, but simply aren’t willing to change the underlying conditions that have brought them to where they are now?

I’ve noticed that in those situations, I receive no “nudge” to give….and I trust that guidance, as much as I trust the many ways I am guided to give.

In this case, the actual “giving” is to not give (until that person chooses to change).

It takes a great deal of self awareness, higher perspective and conviction to not give as a form of giving. In many cases our not giving is seen as rejection, and so we in turn need to foster the inner strength that allows us to honour our own truth, even if that creates disharmony in our relationships.

Giving is often the easier and less confronting path. It’s the one which is more socially acceptable, and which helps to keep the peace in ourself and our relationships.

But as my friend and teacher Scott Washington used to say, “Our ability to achieve self-mastery is directly related to our ability to hang out with tension”.

So when you next find yourself playing under the universal Money Tree, be present with your inner guidance. Can you allow it to have a stronger voice within you than the pushes and pulls of the emotional cobweb of life, and the expectations of those around you?

If you can, then you can be assured that you are in flow, and right action is occurring.