This is what I would have to say about charitable giving, and why I support AHVMF.
My husband Dan and I have been mindfully giving to charities and non-profits every year for the past 12 years. Even when we didn't have much money, going through school and residencies, this was a practice we engaged in mindfully each year. Although we were both brought up in the Christian Church, it wasn't until we became involved with Eastern Spirituality and, in particular, Tibetan Buddhism in the Galukpa lineage (the lineage of the Dalai Lama) that we really developed a deeper appreciation for the broader impact our giving carried.
In the spiritual teachings of that lineage we were exposed to a worldview that brought so many piece of the puzzle together with respect to how our actions impact the world we see and experience. We studied, in great depth, the logical intricacies of karma and emptiness espoused by this tradition. And it really resonated with us, this idea of cause and effect...that our actions create a ripple that comes back to us. Every action that we take plants a seed in our minds that will one day ripen into a similar experience in our own hearts, minds and lives. By this way of understanding the energetic world we live in, anything I am looking to create in my own life I achieve, ultimately, not by trying to manipulate the world into giving me what I want, but in working to help someone else achieve what they would like to create in their life. The more similar the goals and intention, the more powerful the effect. If I want happiness I achieve that by working (with a heart steeped in Love and Compassion) to bring happiness to someone else. If I want Love, I work (with a heart of Love and Compassion) to help someone else experience Love in their life. If I want success, I mindfully work to help someone else achieve success. If I want wealth, I practice generosity (either monetary or otherwise, with my time or resources as I am able). This was such a radical and simple idea for us. And it seemed to bring everything together that we somehow knew in our own hearts, the deeper meaning of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
So, we embarked on a social and spiritual experiment of sorts, mindfully thinking of ways to help others and dedicating our actions to the expansion of happiness and prosperity in the world. We found it so liberating to get out of our own small circle of concern and think about how we could help others, having faith that these efforts would bring blessings larger than we could imagine. And, you know what, I can honestly say that our lives have been better for it. We have achieved a level of peace, happiness and a sense of empowerment that we didn't have before.
So, coming back to our yearly giving. Every year Dan and I sit down and ask ourselves what we value and are passionate about, what values we want to support in the world, and what energetic ripples we want to see created through our actions in a way that will come back to us and continue to grow the life we Dream. Then we pick causes and charities to support that fit these goals and Dreams. We mindfully dedicate the money we donate by holding that intention while we write our check. That is a way of engaging with the world and the people in it which has brought us so much meaning and happiness that I only wish everyone could begin to see how we are all truly creators of our reality, although not in the way the world tries to make us believe.
As for our social experiment? We've decided it's been a huge success. While we aren't living an extravagant lifestyle, we have achieved a level of financial security and lack of worry about money that we did not have before. That is especially notable because our goals, dedications and intentions have been more focused on happiness, contentment, freedom and Love...being wealthily in spirit. Because to us,that is what is truly important.
AHVMF is one cause that Dan and I feel is important to support for many reasons. AHVMF is a pioneer in bringing about a change in the paradigm of healing and has the potential to reach far beyond research in holistic medicine. For this reason, it resonates with the intentions and Dreams we have for our world and fits into our personal passions. The way I see it, this work to bridge the gap between "conventional" medicine and "traditional" medicine is vital to improving our Understanding. Understanding about how the natural world holds very real healing power which can be validated scientifically in a way that opens that door to more and more people so that more of us benefit. Understanding about how our modern and ancient healing methods can complement each other. Understanding that utilizing the tools we have available in modern biomedicine to gain a deeper understanding of the power of herbal medicine will make us better healers no matter what medical paradigm we find ourselves attracted to practicing. Understanding about how much we have to learn, always, about how we can become better healers and advocates for our patients and our profession. Understanding that there is a power in working to understand each other better and in learning to speak the same language, a language of healing which is beyond labels and divisions...a power that has the potential to change more than the scientific paradigm. It has the power to bring people together.
And I'll let you in on a little secret. This whole giving and receiving, cause and effect thing...there's a trick to it. Everything you do with Love in your heart super charges the effects of your creative power.
So, I encourage you to reflect on what you would like to see more of in the world. Identify where your passions lie. And then take steps to contribute to the growth of that. Whether it is through contributing to AHVMF (which I would hope you all might do) or some other organization, do it with intention. Do what is within your means. And do it with Love and the understanding that every action creates a ripple. Every little bit counts. Every little bit makes a ripple. And when we act together, as a community, our ripples are even larger.
Erin Bannink, DVM