I learned a wonderful lesson many years ago from my mentor, the late Leland Val Van De Wall: giving and receiving are opposite sides of the same thing. Val said, "You cannot separate the two: when you learn to give, you must also learn to receive - and when you receive, you should always receive graciously."

Giving must be spontaneous. Otherwise, it is not giving, but trading. As children, you and I were very likely taught to trade. Keep your ears and eyes open, and you'll hear parents tell to their children, "Johnny, you give Mary this, and later she'll give you something of hers." Those children grow into adults with a false concept of giving. They give donations for the tax deductions they'll receive; they give a certain amount of money to their church to have their name put on a plaque, or to receive an eagle statue and membership in the eagle club.

Is that giving? I don't believe so - but it is so commonplace and it has been referred to as "giving" for so long that many people would argue that it is giving. In truth, it is trading. Everyone believing a lie is the truth does not make it the truth.

When you give to receive, you are making a trade; that is a transgression of the law. You must give for the sheer joy of giving. Anything other than that is trading or bartering and you cannot barter with a universe that operates in one precise way!

Giving means to let go of completely with no thought of a return. Giving requires absolutely no conscious thought: it is an expression from the heart. I have learned from experience that this lesson brings with it many rich rewards. Unfortunately, many people go through life without ever learning that this is one of life's most valuable lessons.

George Bernard Shaw called the law of cause and effect "the law of laws." Every cause has an effect. "As you sow, so shall you reap." This law is no different than the other laws that govern our universe. It requires a keen mind and heightened awareness to work with it effectively.

This law of cause and effect indicates that your only responsibility is to give: the universe will automatically respond. It must, because that is the law.

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit; that is a law. It freezes at 32 degrees; that's also a law. When you drop anything heavier than air, it falls toward the center of the earth; that too is a law. Giving and receiving is every bit as exact as these other three.

When you give to receive, you are making a trade; that is a transgression of the law. You must give for the sheer joy of giving. Anything other than that is trading or bartering and you cannot barter with a universe that operates in one precise way!

Bob Proctor is Publisher of Networking Times.