“From compassion springs generosity; for none can be generous in a supernatural way, with faithfulness and goodwill towards all, save him who has a pitiful heart. … Generosity is a liberal flowing forth of the heart which has been touched by charity and pity. … The generous man who sees the errors and disorders of others, and their unrighteousness, beseeches and prays God, with ardent faith, that He will let His Divine gifts flow forth, that He will show His generosity to all men, and they may know Him and turn to the Truth. The generous man also marks with compassion the bodily needs of all men, and he serves, and he gives, and he lends, and he consoles everyone, … in so far as he is able, with prudent discretion.” ~John of Ruysbroeck


There is much confusion in these materialistic times about what it means to be generous. Some think they are being generous when, in front of cameras, or with a promise of much publicity, they donate to a charity. That isn’t generosity, that’s buying publicity. Others think that clearing out things they no longer want, or never wanted in the first place, and giving them to others, is being generous. That too is not real generosity, although it is certainly better than just throwing those things away.

Real generosity is sharing that which you do want and the things you actually need with others who need them also. And it isn’t just things. Generosity can mean teaching others the things you know, even when they can’t afford to pay you for doing so. Generosity can mean forgiving those who have strayed from the path of truth and wisdom and helping to guide them back onto that path. Generosity is asking God to help others instead of always asking for ourselves.

Generosity is even more important on a spiritual level and for the spiritual student. It is, in fact, Divine Law that a person can climb that ladder to Divine Consciousness only by helping others to do the same. Those who refuse to do so make very little progress. This spiritual generosity involves more than just teaching others the truth. It also means that when we are successful at taking in an abundance of Spiritual Energy from the Spiritual Sun, we must share that energy with others. No only must we share that energy, but we must fill it with positive thoughts to make it even better. We send it out into the world with thoughts of love, kindness, joy, wisdom, and generosity. By adding those thoughts to neutral energy, we make it even better.

Generosity and Civilization

While Ruysbroeck didn’t say this in the quoted text, I have equated generosity with the development of civilization. Why? Think about it. Can a civilization develop among people who are constantly fighting each other? Can it come to those who steal from each other? I don’t think so.

I have to admit that I have not really done a lot of research into the beginnings of civilization, but it isn’t hard to figure out. When it was every man for himself, strong men and violent men got to have everything. Then some weaker men got the idea of working together to get their fair share and stop the strong one from being greedy. In short, they learned that working together, and sharing what they got with their partners, ended up actually getting them more than when they tried to work alone to benefit themselves only. Eventually they learned that sine different people are good at different things, that sharing that which they were talented at with the others was a better path than everybody trying to do everything. So the good farmer planted crops and tended the field while the good fighter stood nearby to protect the farmer and the crops that were needed by all.

I don’t think we need to carry the story further than that. The idea is that being generous and working together made civilization possible. Many today seem to have forgotten this and I truly fear the possibility that the greed of the few will end in a violent revolution if it isn’t stopped peacefully soon.