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Author Topic: Giving Back  (Read 3730 times)
dragonfaerie
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« Topic Start: March 24, 2009, 10:00:11 pm »

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?

Some background... I do a lot of charity work. In the past, I've been heavily involved with a cancer charity, Relay for Life (my mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor). This year, I've begun to be involved in a local charity organization of renfair enthusiasts called "Team Wench". We just put on a feast to raise money for MS walks (and we raised over $11,000 this year) and I'm going to be helping put on a tea that I'm hoping will benefit the American Heart Association. I also donate money when I can to various sorts of charities.

Until recently, I never thought that this could be a service to the Gods. But in thinking about it, I believe any time you give selflessly of yourself, that this "giving back" is sacred... whether that's fundraising, or working at a soup kitchen, removing non-native plant species from the state park, or recycling. As a Wiccan, if I truly believe the idea of "as within, so without" then my giving back to the world also helps make me a more service-oriented person.

So... what about y'all?

Karen
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« Reply #1: March 24, 2009, 10:48:40 pm »

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?

Yes. My spiritual dedication is one and the same as my humanitarian dedication. "Is lei me. Is mise ise." (I am Hers. I am Her.) doesn't just mean that I dedicate myself to the world in a spiritual sense (the world/universe as the divine), it means I dedicate myself in every possible sense. I really don't know how to express it, it is like I have given all of myself, made myself a vessel for something greater than me. This poem by Shantideva (an 8th century Buddhist scholar) that Starglade helpfully pointed me towards kinda sums it up:

May I be a guard for all those who are protector-less,
A guide for those who journey on the road,
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.
- Shantideva

To be honest, there was no active giving. It is not that I lose something by choosing this life path, I would lose everything by not accepting it. It is who I am, the dedication was me accepting and formalizing that.

I don't think I've been terribly coherent. I never am on this subject. It is more something I simply know and experience than something I can express. It doesn't help that I am half asleep. Maybe when I wake up in the morning I'll be able to formulate a more coherent response.
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« Reply #2: March 24, 2009, 11:22:38 pm »

Until recently, I never thought that this could be a service to the Gods. But in thinking about it, I believe any time you give selflessly of yourself, that this "giving back" is sacred... whether that's fundraising, or working at a soup kitchen, removing non-native plant species from the state park, or recycling.

I agree, and I like how you have worded it here.

I think that it's important to do things that are selfless. Although, as Phoebe said in Friends ( Wink ), nothing is ever truly selfless as you feel good about doing the selfless act. But I think that you should feel good about doing such an act.

Doing things for the good of the community, or even the whole planet, as opposed to doing something purely for yourself, is a wonderful thing to do. And yes, I think on some levels it is a sacred act.
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« Reply #3: April 02, 2009, 08:57:04 pm »

I think that it's important to do things that are selfless. Although, as Phoebe said in Friends ( Wink ), nothing is ever truly selfless as you feel good about doing the selfless act. But I think that you should feel good about doing such an act.

I agree. I think the problem is when people brag about it. Then it does become about them and what they're doing to be holy, instead of about the act itself. I don't care if my giving back doesn't win me brownie points with the Gods or a nicer bungalow in the Summerlands. I do it now because it needs to be done, and because I have the means to do it.

Karen
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« Reply #4: April 16, 2009, 05:15:13 pm »

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?
<snip>
So... what about y'all?

Karen

This is a fundamental part of Judaism.  Everyone, from the poorest welfare recipient to the wealthiest business person is expected to give tzedekah.  Tzedekah is often translated as "charity" but would more accurately be translated as "righteous giving".  We are obliged to contribute to the well-being of our community.  Most Jews also believe it is our duty to participate in "Tikkun Olam", the repair of the world.  This is likely part of the reason such a high percentage of Jews are social activists.

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« Reply #5: April 17, 2009, 07:19:41 am »

This is a fundamental part of Judaism.  Everyone, from the poorest welfare recipient to the wealthiest business person is expected to give tzedekah. 

Sperran

In addition, there is no expection of getting anything in the afterlife from having been charitiable.  Also, the highest form of tzedekah is to give anonomously and to not know who has been helped by it.

This also shows up in Jewish funeral traditions. People are asked to give to the deceased's favorite charity instead of sending flowers.
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« Reply #6: April 17, 2009, 10:30:30 am »

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?

My religion has little or nothing in the way of specific practices, so there's no requirement for charity.

However, the myths of my religion make it very clear that creation is an ongoing thing. There is no separation between creator and creation; they are one and the same, and we human beings are part and parcel of it. So the world is what we make it.

To me, that means that if I see something broken in our world, it's up to me personally to do what I can to fix it. Hence my political activism and charitable work.
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« Reply #7: April 17, 2009, 01:29:46 pm »

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?

It certainly does.  There's a proverb in the Havamal, a poem from the Poetic Edda, that is usually summarized "A gift demands a gift."  Thus, the earth gifts us with food, so we should gift it back with offerings; a friend might gift us with help or support, so we should give them a thank-you gift, and help and support them in return.  There is also heavy emphasis on the interconnectedness of the local community, which suggests supporting and being a member of that community.  Gifts are the things that keep relationships, communities, and individuals within the community strong.

So, charitable gifts would tend to focus on local efforts by and for the community: food shelf, humane society, thrift store, library, school system, etc.  (Yes, most library and school systems tend to be impoverished enough to merit charitable giving, IMO.)
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« Reply #8: November 06, 2009, 02:03:02 pm »

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?

Some background... I do a lot of charity work. In the past, I've been heavily involved with a cancer charity, Relay for Life (my mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor). This year, I've begun to be involved in a local charity organization of renfair enthusiasts called "Team Wench". We just put on a feast to raise money for MS walks (and we raised over $11,000 this year) and I'm going to be helping put on a tea that I'm hoping will benefit the American Heart Association. I also donate money when I can to various sorts of charities.

Until recently, I never thought that this could be a service to the Gods. But in thinking about it, I believe any time you give selflessly of yourself, that this "giving back" is sacred... whether that's fundraising, or working at a soup kitchen, removing non-native plant species from the state park, or recycling. As a Wiccan, if I truly believe the idea of "as within, so without" then my giving back to the world also helps make me a more service-oriented person.

So... what about y'all?

Karen
Well, seeing as how reciprocity is a primary ethic in Hellenismos, I would have to say giving back is very important. It could even be a form of worship. The "Golden Rule" itself comes from Pythagoras
or at least pythagorean.
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