Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda shared beautiful teachings on the subject of giving.

“Teach us to spend for others’ necessities as happily and freely as we spend for our own real needs.
Teach us not to love Thy gifts and forget Thee, the Giver of all gifts.”

-Paramhansa Yogananda

“Give to God, or to some good cause in His Name, a portion of whatever money you receive.”

-Swami Kriyananda



Tithing Testimonials

Tithing as a Lesson from Nature

Nature teaches us many wonderful lessons at the farm each year. For example, every fall season, the leaves, branches, needles, and organic material of all kinds fall back to the earth, to replenish the soil from which Life and all plants on our planet spring forth. This natural process is Nature’s method of mulching; of giving back to earth.

The more that I give that which I have to give, the more I am amazed at how well taken care of I am in the process.  The more I feed those areas of my Life which truly resonate with my higher self and dharma, the more they grow in me. And equally as important, the more that I forget myself in the process of giving (for nothing is truly mine!), the closer I feel to all harmony with life itself.[read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”]

Nature teaches us many wonderful lessons at the farm each year. For example, every fall season, the leaves, branches, needles, and organic material of all kinds fall back to the earth, to replenish the soil from which Life and all plants on our planet spring forth. This natural process is Nature’s method of mulching; of giving back to earth.

While this simple realization of giving has been a profound realization for me in my own role as Ananda farmer, it has been even more profound in the application of this truth in my life as a devotee. For the power of giving back is not merely that which is found in Nature’s cycle of life, but rather, is the universal principle upon which all good things come into fruition.

In the process of helping to start Ananda Farm on Camano Island some 5.5 years ago, I’ve experienced that the principle of giving has never failed me. As part of our natural farm plan, we live on a very small stipend each month. Technically, we are WELL below the poverty line. But never in these 5.5 years has this thought had a place in my mind. For I’ve known, two things. 1) This is not my work, this is God’s work. 2) In giving everything I can of what I have to give, I will be taken care of.

Time and again, this has been true.

The more that I give that which I have to give, the more I am amazed at how well taken care of I am in the process.  The more I feed those areas of my Life which truly resonate with my higher self and dharma, the more they grow in me. And equally as important, the more that I forget myself in the process of giving (for nothing is truly mine!), the closer I feel to all harmony with life itself.

– Zach Abbey

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Tithing as a Flow

Tithing is a surprisingly commonsense approach to dispelling fears around money or lack of money.  It allows us to tap into a consciousness of abundance and being in the current of currency.

Adding this practice has completely shifted my thinking about money and security and has been very freeing to me. The more I tune into this world and our experience here in terms of energy the more I feel expansive in my thinking and can really enjoy life.[read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”]

In the past money was an area that I would tend to become very contracted in my thinking and I wanted to hold onto money. When I began to think of money more in terms of the energy current that it really is, I realized I don’t want to hold and store money. This actually blocks the energetic flow, thereby reducing income.

Rather I want to dive into the abundant currency of money and increase the flow of money in my life.

Now as I see money going out as an energetic exchange for all the things I value in my life, including food, shelter, travel etc.,  I am happy to include this great spiritual work in that exchange.  Ananda’s mission has everything to do with raising energy in our personal life and in the world.  This is one more way I can be a part of that change and be tapped into that great flow.

I feel truly at peace around money since making this change and I encourage anyone to try it out for themselves.

– Amy Morrison

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How Does This Work?

I began tithing years ago.  At first, while raising a family, it was a strange concept (“What, give money away?”), but it somehow made sense, so I began, cautiously tithing 2% of my income every month.

Some time went by, the roof didn’t cave in, and things actually seemed to work a bit better. So I increased the tithe to 5%.  Time went by, the roof didn’t cave in…and eventually I arrived at tithing 10%.[read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”]

Tithing went on through good times and hard, and I actually began looking forward to tithing each month, of returning some of my earnings to God’s service, from which, I had gradually realized, it all came.

So, besides having 10% less to spend, what do I get out of it?

Well, there is the quiet appreciation of being able to give no matter how much or how little I think I have.  It’s a quiet background flow of gratitude that frees the heart from feeling constricted.

And there is an increasing appreciation of the endless ways that God (or Divine Mother, the Universe, or whatever term we use) finds to support us, Her children.

A recent example comes to mind:

Before signing up for Medicare, I’d had some medical tests.  My bill would be substantial.   After applying for Medicare, I learned to my consternation that not only was the application accepted (good!) but that it was retroactive to a couple months back, and that I owed premiums for those back months (less good!).

Wondering if there was a way to avoid paying for something I’d never benefit from, I spoke with Medicare, only to learn that yes, I could avoid paying for those unneeded months, but Medicare would have to cancel my acceptance and I could reapply later in the year.   And that I would have no healhcare coverage until the reapplication was accepted.

Going without health insurance is not the best idea these days, so I bit the bullet and paid the entire premium, retroactive months and all.

About a week ago, I received a statement from my healthcare provider saying that I owed a large amount for the testing earlier in the year.  Something about it prompted me to call the provider, and I learned, much to my surprise, that instead of owing a large amount, that the bill had been paid by Medicare as the services happened in those retroactive months!

Now does that have anything do with tithing?  With years of observing such “coincidences”, I have to suspect that tithing plays a part in them.

How does it work?  Perhaps through giving, we open our hearts.  And through our open hearts, Divine Mother can work through us to accomplish what She needs to do.

I’m still not clear on how it all works, but I am grateful!

– Rick Johnston

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A Spiritual Practice for Me

I’ve been aware of the concept of tithing for most of my life. I thought that tithing meant giving some portion of whatever was left over at the end of the month, or feeling inspired by some plight that had just been brought to my attention and giving to that. I also thought that “tithing my energy” was an option instead of giving money. My tithing was random and usually had an “I should” attached to it.

While living in Los Angeles, I had a dear friend Dharmaraj who helped me to understand tithing. He said that tithing was a spiritual practice for me. I was intrigued with this idea, because I certainly wanted to do everything I could to advance spiritually. I realized then that I had always thought of tithing as being mostly about the receiver![read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”]

Dharmaraj also said that tithing consistently was very important. I pledged a set amount (a percentage of my income) to Divine Mother at that time and have given that amount consistently without wavering. Even when finances were tight, I stayed on track with my tithing pledge.

This spiritual practice of tithing has deepened my relationship with Divine Mother. I enjoy seeing how truly awesome she is at manifesting goodness in my life. I feel like I live in a “freedom flow” with Divine Mother guiding it all!

When it comes time to pay my tithing pledge each month I am thrilled to be able to humbly offer my tithe to Divine Mother. After all, everything I have is Divine Mother’s anyway; she lets me keep the rest!

My friend Dharmaraj suggested “tithing to what inspires you”. Since Master and his work thru Ananda is what is most inspirational to me, I naturally tithe to Ananda.

– Celri Bandi

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Tithing Testimonial  

When I first started on this path, I wanted to experiment with tithing. This is one of Yogananda’s teaching about the flow of money and how to keep that flow going. I was in need of learning that.   I was at the time saddled with the expense of a growing family, and my work income was less than I needed, but I also wanted to tithe at the same time. [read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”]

I was pledging around 5%, and it would have been difficult to increase the percentage to the 10% for a tithe, but I decided in spite of that fact, I would increase my pledging by 1%, which I did. At the end of that year my fortunes were just a little bit better so the next year I decided to try it again, and so increased to 6%.

My fortunes got even better so I kept going up 1% each year until now I tithe 10%, and some years I do more than that! My fortunes keep doing better and better.  In fact in 2015 I told Divine Mother that I can’t afford to be this fortunate as it is too much work, so please cut it back a bit!!!

– Bruce Davis

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It is More Blessed to Give

In June 1976, a forest fire swept through the rustic Ananda World Brotherhood Village near Nevada City, CA and destroyed virtually all the modest homes of its residents. The fire was caused by a faulty spark arrestor on a County operated vehicle. After the fire, Swami Kriyananda (founder of the community) wrote to the County Supervisors informing them that Ananda would not sue the County (even though neighbours did and they received reimbursed damages). [read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”] 
Prior to the fire, the community was in a process of working with the County to upgrade its buildings and infrastructure to be in conformance with county building and other codes. But after the fire, with all the homes now gone, it meant that there were no longer any existing homes that could be “grandfathered” in even though they were non-conforming. All new construction would have to be up to code. This was a second one-two punch but one that couldn’t be avoided.

These circumstances forced the young community to put out even more energy and while the result in future years was to be a more beautiful and functional community, at the time it wasn’t easy.

When I arrived a year or so after that fire, in 1977, there were “no homes and fewer jobs!” About 40 of Ananda’s members moved to town temporarily. Padma and I rented a small cabin (in a rundown former motel) on the edge of nearby Nevada City. For employment, Padma and I started an accounting practice which we also saw as a benefit to the community and the businesses it would need to create to generate income for rebuilding.

In that wake of the fire, Ananda Community established several new businesses in Nevada City and Grass Valley (“twin” cities): a health food store and café; a commercial print shop; and, a clothing and gift store.

It took a few years for homes to be built at the Village community thirty minutes from town. There were so many of us in town that the Village Council at Ananda Community felt to establish a seat on the council to represent the contingency of members living “in town.”

One day we were notified that a few of our members had organized a meeting at the Ananda Meditation Retreat to discuss new directions around our relationship to money. It was a 45-minute drive from Nevada City to the Retreat. The last three miles are on deeply rutted dirt and gravel road. We traversed this each Sunday to attend the weekly Service.

I don’t recall the month or year of this meeting, but my best guess is somewhere between 1979 and 1981. One of the organizers, Shivani Lucki, had evidently read a book or two on the practice and principles behind tithing. This was a new concept to most of us and as community residents (those who worked for community departments or businesses) earned perhaps $150 per month, the thought of donating from these earnings was, shall we say, a novel idea.

Nonetheless, the spirit and enthusiasm carried the evening and with faith and enthusiasm, the community’s residents pledged to experiment with tithing as a form of spiritual practice (sadhana).

Looking back some years later, it is clear that it was from this day forward that slowly, steadily and increasingly, financial resources began to flow. And that was not all; attunement began to flow more abundantly as well. Mind you, Divine Mother never gave us more than we (as individuals or the community) needed at any given moment (and often at the very last possible moment!) but, nonetheless, houses were built; jobs were created and sustained; the school for children was expanded; and, eventually, the retreat  center moved from its rustic roots six miles away to a parcel of land adjacent to the community, occupying a newly built facility.

The tithing experiment was so inspiring for individuals that we decided that to ask the various branch departments of the community to tithe from their revenues back to the “General Fund” which provided overhead services and support for ministerial outreach. Even though these departmental tithes were more akin to a kind of administration fee, the spirit was one of tithing.

There was another challenge to the spirit of community residents that took place after the fire. Some residents wanted to re-direct funds from resident member dues away from subsidizing the costs of operating a year-round retreat and use them instead for rebuilding. The idea was to close the retreat during the slower winter months.

On the surface, this proposal appeared to be practical but in reality, Swami Kriyananda, our founder and spiritual guide, countered our material pragmatism with energetic and spiritual pragmatism. The solution to challenges, he explained, was to put out more energy, not less. We should serve the public more, not less and in all cases at all times keep our doors open to serve the public!

is solution, then, was to initiate a nationwide lecture tour which he themed “`The Joy Tour.” In this, he intended to share the principles and practices of “Saying ‘Yes’ to life” with energy and joy as the only way to find true and lasting happiness! And, to top it off, he wanted to bring upwards a dozen community residents on the tour with him to assist and sing the music.

For this, we would need money—lots of it (by our standards) for travel, lodging, meals, hall rentals and advertising! A national tour with a dozen people is no small financial commitment.

Not having any such funds, we borrowed it. Never mind that we didn’t have a clue how we would ever repay it. The lesson was all about energy, joy, and service in the effort to share the teachings we were trying to live. And, the rest, as we say, is history. The tour touched people’s hearts and one-by-one, individuals travelled west to join the community. True, it wasn’t a stampede and yes, it took a few years but the community grew and the loan was eventually repaid.

What did we learn through these experiences? Well, here are just a few suggestions that you might find helpful in your life too.

  • If you need money, understand that “money is energy.” Put out the energy to find a job. Paramhansa Yogananda gave this counsel to the public during the 1930’s Great Depression: “If I needed a job,” he thundered, “I would turn the world upside down to find one.”
  • So long as you’re still job hunting, don’t be idle: put out the energy to help and serve others: even if as a volunteer.
  • If your income is less than you feel you need, be generous! Don’t wait until you “win the lottery!” Share a percentage of whatever you earn with others. While any worthwhile charity, cause or individual counts, those of us who are seeking Self-realization should consider giving back to the source of our inspiration in order to share the spiritual blessings we have received.
  • In the life and teachings of Yogananda, and in the history Ananda, we have never simply been given in advance the resources required. We had to serve first in order to attract what was needed into our lives both personally and as in our service to God and gurus. Yogananda started numerous small businesses to set the example of “how-to-live.” Ananda, too, has been blessed with the necessity to make our ideals practical in daily life by starting numerous businesses and service organizations as an integral part of practicing and sharing our ideals. The reasons for this may be many but one of them is that for Dwapara Yuga the inspiration is to bring “Spirit to work” (into daily life).
  • A life of faith and devotion necessarily invites us to go beyond our material comfort zone. We must avoid presumption but we cannot avoid living with faith if we are a true devotee. Faith requires we stretch ourselves.
  • We recommend the practice of tithing a percentage of your gross income (before expenses). You can start with a small percentage but not too small! (10% is customary but only a suggestion.) Experiment. Give yourself (and Divine Mother) a window of opportunity such as a few months, for example, to test your faith and resolve. Don’t look for financial gain as a consequence of your giving; nor yet, recognition. Your “gain” will be a hundredfold but not necessarily in-kind but in-spirit: calmness, inspiration, creativity, joy, and devotion. At the same time, and use as a prescription as needed if your faith ever falters: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things (your material needs, included) will be added unto you.” Divine Mother will never let you down, though She will remember from time to time to test you.
  • Swami Kriyananda lived entirely by faith. He never saved for rainy days. He lived entirely on what Divine Mother offered. When, so long ago, he heard about the community’s experiment in tithing, he chuckled (hearing of the 10% idea): “It’s ALL God’s!” he was reported to have said (though he very much approved of our experiment).

These tests were precious lessons which have changed our lives and opened our hearts to being guided by faith and guidance. We pray that sharing these stories will inspire you, too, to live ever more by faith and joy.

Joy to you!

– Nayaswami Hriman

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