It is extraordinary to me how far away we have come from honoring teachers, parents, and other guides, in the way that really serves life. Tithing(giving 10% or more of income) to our spiritual source of teaching and inspiration brings good. This is an established spiritual practice for thousands of years. I personally have had amazing experience with this practice for 10 years. It has helped me trust God, benefit those who have helped me, tame my ego, increase my income times 20, and heal my relationship with my Mother. But tithing has not yet hit the mainstream. It appears to be secreted away in churches and temples. In the everyday world many who call themselves spiritual teachers do not even acknowledge it.
I recently had the opportunity to share my experience about tithing with 2 spiritual practitioners: one, an experienced minister, and one, a prosperity teacher who touts her generosity. One wanted advice to grow her practice, and the other advice about how to deal with a wayward student who was not honoring her teachings. I suggested both of them could look to their own practice of honoring parents and spiritual teachers. Neither of them even responded to my words, even though I was encouraging them from my real experience, and in support of their wisdom and expertise. It appears to me that tithing is like the Italian ships(Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria) were to the Native Americans: invisible. The Native Americans had no experiential context to know what ships were, and so, they simply did not see them.
How is it that honoring parents and teachers has become so out of context that it is not even recognizable? It seems to me that we have become a very selfish culture, concerned mainly with our own autonomy and personal needs. We think “giving to charity” is tithing. Charitable giving can be good, but when done as our primary generosity practice, engenders a feeling of “better than others”, whereas tithing makes us grateful. The age-old practice of tithing plants us firmly in our roots, as we enact true humbleness and gratitude to those who have guided and sourced us. This seems to be a cultural problem. Many people I talk to do not know the difference between tithing and charity.
I live in Ashland, a spiritual community where there are many who call themselves spiritual teachers. While I believe everyone has something to share, I must admit I look to how someone is walking their talk before absorbing their message. Are they tithing? Are they honoring parents? Are they sharing of what they have with their spiritual teachers? There are many who are flashy, with fancy marketing messages, who are not living as deeply devoted as they could be to their own source of spiritual nourishment. And that, to me, makes all the difference. I am grateful to my parents for being my first spiritual teachers, and to my coach and mentor, for teaching me the power of gratitude. And I am grateful too, to give back to where I have been sourced. Giving makes us like God, and less like these little human personalities, that think we invented it all ourselves.
I believe that when we are all honoring where we have been sourced, those we qualify as wise will be empowered to lead us into world peace. So I challenge you: if you consider yourself a spiritual leader, teacher, or mentor, think about your responsibility to model gratitude. Give back. Where have you been sourced and inspired? How can you humble your ego to the lineage you are a part of, open up your prosperity, and experience the joy of seeing your mentors thrive? Bless you, and your good work in becoming more grateful. Aho!