March 18


Today's Quotation:

When you ignore your soul's destiny, when you get caught up in your own self-interests and forget to care for others, you will not feel "right."  Instead, you will feel empty and unfulfilled.
During these times, you are neglecting your soul--you are depriving it of nourishment. . . . seek something outside your nine-to-five job as an additional source of fulfillment and as a way to feel the joy of helping others.  You can do any number of things to fulfill this goal--volunteer at a community hotline, coach a Little League team, donate your time to a public school, visit the sick.  Whatever you choose, you will gain a sense that you are giving of yourself, that you are sharing yourself with the world, that you are fulfilling the destiny of your soul.

Rabbi Harold Kushner

Today's Meditation:

Sometimes it's hard to give of ourselves, especially when we see models of this behavior giving incredible amounts of time and energy to others--it's easy to feel that there's no way we could measure up to that kind of standard.  I know a man named Doug who's an incredible dynamo of activity.  He seems to be involved in everything that goes on in our town, and he's always sharing of himself in some special way.

Compared to him, I give very little to our community.  But Doug and I are different.  He works right here in town, while I work thirty miles away.  He has constant contact with people here, so he learns what needs to be done.  Because I work in a different state, most of my contact is with the people there, and while I'm here at home, I don't have nearly the number of contacts.  Doug's children are grown and have moved out, so he doesn't have the responsibility of providing for their needs any longer; I still have one step-child in college and two in high school.  My presence is necessary at home much more than his is, because the kids are still there.

So is all this rationalization for not volunteering more of my time?  Not at all.  All this is recognition that each of us lives a different life, and the amount that we can give in certain areas is limited by the amount that we give in others.  For the time being, my contribution is to my family, to my job, and to the websites, all three of which I feel are worthy contributions.  I cannot be expected to give as much as Doug in other areas because his situation and mine are so different; the more I start to give in other areas, the less I can give in the areas I give now.

I guess my point is that if I were to look at Doug as a role model for what I should do, I'd be a mess, without any sort of focus or purpose.  Yes, we must give if we're to find any sort of happiness or fulfillment in our lives.  But we must be very careful of the models we choose to follow in doing so, and allow ourselves to be just who we are without comparing our giving to that of other people.

Questions to ponder:

1.  Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and found that you came up lacking somehow?  Was it a fair comparison?

2.  In what areas can you start to give without affecting the areas to which you currently give?  How can you start?

3.  Why is it that in society's eyes, donating time to a charity somehow seems more worthy than spending that same time with our own children or siblings or parents?  Is this truly the case?

For further thought:

By helping yourself, you are helping humankind.  By helping humankind, you are helping yourself.  That's the law of all spiritual progress.

Christopher Isherwood

more thoughts and ideas on helpfulness



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