World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Giving And Receiving

Passages in this section express the general spiritual principle of giving and receiving. When we give to one another, freely and without conditions, sharing our blessings with others and bearing each other's burdens, the giving multiplies and we receive far more than what was given. Even when there is no immediate prospect of return, Heaven keeps accounts of giving, and in the end blessing will return to the giver, multiplied manyfold. We must give first; to expect to receive without having given is to violate the universal law. On the other hand, giving in order to receive--with strings attached, with the intention of currying favor, or in order to make a name for oneself--is condemned. See also The Golden Rule, pp. 172-74.

Give, and it will be given to you... for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.

Christianity. Luke 6.38

Those who do not abandon mercy will not be abandoned by me.

Shinto. Oracle of the Kami of Itsukushima

He who gives liberally goes straight to the gods; on the high ridge of heaven he stands exalted.

Hinduism. Rig Veda 1.125.5

Who is honored? He who honors mankind.

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.1

Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness.

Islam. Qur'an 39.10

Luke 6.38: Cf. Matthew 7.7-11, p. 594. Abot 4.1: Cf. Matthew 25.31-46, pp. 840f.; Gandavyuha Sutra, p. 841. Qur'an 39.10: Cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 36, p. 840; Hadith of Muslim, p. 841.

Understand that through saving others you shall also be saved.

Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki 3.47

It is only when one does not have enough faith in others that others will have no faith in him.

Taoism. Tao Te Ching 17

One must pour cold water on the ground before he can tread on soft soil.

African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

You will not attain piety until you expend of what you love; and whatever thing you expend, God knows of it.

Islam. Qur'an 3.92

If beings knew, as I know, the fruit of sharing gifts, they would not enjoy their use without sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the heart and stay there. Even if it were their last bit, their last morsel of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were anyone to receive it.

Buddhism. Itivuttaka 18

The Buddha said, "When you see someone practicing the Way of giving, aid him joyously, and you will obtain vast and great blessings." A shramana asked: "Is there an end to those blessings?" The Buddha said, "Consider the flame of a single lamp. Though a hundred thousand people come and light their own lamps from it so that they can cook their food and ward off the darkness, the first lamp remains the same as before. Blessings are like this, too."

Buddhism. Sutra of Forty-two Sections 10

The accumulation of wealth is the way to scatter the people, and the letting it be scattered among them is the way to collect the people.

Confucianism. Great Learning 10.9

Ofudesaki 3.47: This is the basis of Tenrikyo's hinokishin, voluntary service for the well-being of the community, when one seeks neither praise nor reward. Yoruba Proverb: In other words, be kind and generous to others if you expect others to help you.

He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written,

He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity.

Christianity. 2 Corinthians 9.6-11

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Christianity. Acts 20.35

Give not with the thought to gain, and be patient unto thy Lord.

Islam. Qur'an 74.6-7

When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

Christianity. Matthew 6.3

Giving simply because it is right to give, without thought of return, at a proper time, in proper circumstances, and to a worthy person, is enlightened giving. Giving with regrets or in the expectation of receiving some favor or of getting something in return, is selfish giving.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 17.20-21

He who gives his wealth to purify himself, and confers no favor on any man for recompense, only seeking the Face of his Lord the Most High; He shall surely be satisfied.

Islam. Qur'an 92.18-21

Qur'an 92.18-21: Cf. Qur'an 2.261-62, p. 752; 2.267-74, p. 752.

Enlightening beings are magnanimous givers, bestowing whatever they have with equanimity, without regret, without hoping for reward, without seeking honor, without coveting material benefits, but only to rescue and safeguard all living beings.

Buddhism. Garland Sutra 21

If I give this, what shall I [have left to] enjoy?"-- Such selfish thinking is the way of the ghosts; "If I enjoy this, what shall I [have left to] give?"-- Such selfless thinking is a quality of the gods.

Buddhism. Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.125

Mencius said, "A man who is out to make a name for himself will be able to give away a state of a thousand chariots, but reluctance would be written all over his face if he had to give away a basketful of rice and a bowlful of soup when no such purpose was served."

Confucianism. Mencius VII.B.11

When a greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or at least of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things.

Islam. Qur'an 4.86

There was presented to me a papaya, And I returned for it a beautiful keu gem; Not as a return for it, But that our friendship might be lasting.

There was presented to me a peach, And I returned for it a beautiful yaou gem; Not as a return for it, But that our friendship might be lasting.

There was presented to me a plum, And I returned for it a beautiful kew stone; Not as a return for it, But that our friendship might be lasting.

Confucianism. Book of Songs, Ode 64

Love cannot return unless you give it. People who love each other can continue the give and take action of love with more power than they invest. We can conclude that the word "eternity" can only be formed through love.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 12-5-71

Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 8.125: This distinction between gods and demons is made in Satapatha Brahmana, p. 383. Book of Songs, Ode 64: It is commonplace for people to give gifts with the intention of securing a favor in return. In such calculations, the gift and its return would be of roughly equal value. To return a gift of immensely greater value might burden the recipient with a feeling of indebtedness. This passage, however, describes an exchange of gifts with a purer motive: friendship that goes beyond the calculations of obligation.


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