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Thread: Giving while poor

  1. #1

    Giving while poor

    This has been something I've been thinking about for a couple of weeks.

    I've always wanted to be charitable--volunteering for great organizations, making hats for the homeless, supporting friends going through anxiety and depression, etc. But aside from the latter, I've been less than successful in getting out of my comfort zone.

    For example, I've always felt compassion for the homeless. Despite this, I've always looked away or walked faster when passing a homeless encampment or someone panhandling. However, with zazen and loving-kindness meditation, I've learned to come out of my comfort zone and make eye contact, smile, and in general learn to notice them rather than turning away.

    More recently, when I was walking into a grocery store, a gentleman approached me and asked me for some change. When I said I didn't have any, he asked for some food instead (in particular, a TV dinner because his friend lets him use a microwave). I ran inside and grabbed something that I thought would be filling, plus a salad from the deli bar because the TV dinner had no greens whatsoever. I bought those items and ran back outside to give them to him. I didn't want him to think I forgot him. Then I returned to do my own grocery shopping.

    It felt good, and when I talked to my friend about it who knows about my financial situation, asked me why I would do that when I could barely afford groceries myself.

    So I've been thinking about that. I thought I was doing a good thing and learning to actually put an effort into being compassionate instead of my usual "I'm going to think about doing these things but not actually do them." But how can I help others when I can't really afford to? But then, what's money to me when a small contribution can help someone in need who's hungry or cold?

    I'm not really sure what my question is, but I guess I'm feeling insecure about my choices.

    Confused,
    June
    #SatToday

  2. #2

    Giving while poor

    Sounds like you made a good choice and balanced your own needs and found room in your heart for someone with needs of their own. I bow to you for your sincere effort.

    I have often given up a meal a day once or twice a week to donate a meal to someone in need. Experiencing the lack of a meal helps me understand the position of those who cannot afford to eat. I realize I still live a very privileged life, even on a tight budget.

    Deep bows
    Yugen


    sat2day

  3. #3
    Hi June,

    It felt good
    is one sign for a good kind giving. It is not always this way. Sometimes I give somebody something and I do not feel good.
    I listened to Reb Anderson via YouTube about giving. With the fact in my head, that all we have and all we "earn" is given from others. There is no thing you can get without the giving from others. So, you are a member of the "People, who are giving" That is great. Most people want to get. But they do not know, that giving is the holy act, not taking. No other comment from me. THAT IS GREAT.


    Gassho
    Ernst

  4. #4
    Hello June,

    Giving comes in many ways and it sounds like you are doing it wonderfully!

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  5. #5

    Giving while poor

    Beautiful June I understand where you are coming from. My wife and I can hardly afford to pay our bills but I still have that desire to help people. I really like the Google One app. The app only asks for a dollar at a time and usually (not always!) can afford that. Your story really touched me. There is something about giving face to face. Thank you for sharing.

    P.S. I really like what Yugen said too!


    ..sat2day•
    合掌
    Last edited by Troy; 06-17-2015 at 02:08 PM.

  6. #6
    June,

    My sister and I talk about giving often, we are both in places where we don't have a lot of extra money and both still very much live paycheck to paycheck (sometimes a little too close). But she told me a funny story about giving.

    She was sitting in her car figuring out how much gas she was going to put in, because she needed to get to work for the next couple days before payday. She figured she would put in $20, which would be plenty of gas and give her $10 extra until the end of the week. When she went to walk inside, someone stopped her and asked if she could spare a few dollars for gas they had run out and were trying to get back home. Without even thinking she asked which pump, walked into the store and put $10 on their pump and $20 on hers. Her justification was that she hoped someday if she has the same problem there will be someone to help her as well.

    As we continued to talk about the story and dug into why she gave, she said it was because she could understand how you could cut it too close and run out of gas. It's that empathy that gives rise to an interesting phenomenon (in America at least) where people with low incomes tend to give more than the rich.

    Here is a study on it: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/arti...poor_give_more

    I guess that is all to say, the answer to your non-question is you did a great thing.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday

  7. #7
    Hi June,

    Giving comes in so many ways, some not obvious to the eye. Of course, we should give materially so that all in this world might have the basics of food, shelter, safety, education and the like. But also, all we do can be giving when the eyes are clear. I sometimes quote this by a Theravadan Teacher ...

    DANA is a Pali word that can be translated as giving, generosity, charity, and liberality.

    It occupies an important part in the Buddha's teaching, which is often formulated under three headings - dana, sila, bhavana (giving, morality, meditation or mental cultivation). That dana is one heading underscores its importance. Buddhists should take heed and cultivate a good spirit of dana.

    It is a first step towards eliminating the defilement of greed, hatred and delusion (lobka, dosa, moha), for every act of giving is an act of non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion. When you give you have loving-kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) in your heart. So at that time greed, hatred or ill-will, and delusion would be absent.

    "Giving" is a word that has very wide connotations. It does not mean that you give only to monks. It does not mean that you give only expensive things. And it does not mean that you give only material things that cost money.

    For you can give many immaterial things which may count even more than material things. What I mean is that when we are kind to each other, we are giving kindness, gentleness, comfort, peace, happiness, etc. So we can give by being kind. For example, we can lend a sympathetic ear to a troubled person, listen to him (or her) with compassion and give him comfort and encouragement.

    To the troubled person, your giving time to listen to him is more important than if he were to receive a material gift. So when we are living in a community, we should cultivate care and concern for each other, reaching out to help whenever we can. Then we give more kindness by speaking gently, soothingly, not harshly or angrily.

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Budd...f%20Giving.htm
    On the other hand, most of in the West who think we "have little" or are "struggling" financially actually have so much, and live better than the kings of old.

    I often reflect that I live like a king compared to how even kings lived in centuries past. If one ever has a chance to visit the Palace of Versailles or any of the great homes from 200 or more years ago, one will first notice the absence of electricity, indoor plumbing (the servants would bring in chamber pots), refrigerators and microwave ovens, modern heating and air conditioners, televisions, radios, computers. One might also notice the absence of general sanitation, automobiles, modern medicine and the like. Please don't even ask how the servants lived in their homes! (In fact, much of the world outside the west ... even sometimes in it ... still lives so).

    So, it is hard for me to feel sorry for the little drafts and inconveniences in my own home which is big and more than spacious enough, with a garden (not quite the size of Versailles) and having all of the above. The fact is that even the typical home of a family under the poverty line these days in the west will still usually have many of the things that kings of old never dreamed of ... a fridge, electric lights, a microwave, constant entertainment on the tube, heat (hopefully), a phone, toilet, shower, recorded music at one's fingertips. Our rising expectations cause us never to be satisfied even when we live better than kings!

    That does not mean that I think it perfectly fine that many in my own country still live in violent and drug filled neighborhoods, in rat filled housing where kids live in terror. I do not, and it is the great disgrace of America that so many live in such way. I also dream of the day when everyone in the world can have access to the basics of life ... a warm place to sleep, health care, education, safety. We must keep striving until all our fellow human beings are so. I think it also fine that most of us might want to move to a home or neighborhood cleaner, quieter, safer than where one now finds oneself (my gosh, I think back to some of the horrible noisy and run down apartments I used to live in in rather dangerous neighborhoods. I am glad to be out).

    However, it is also so easy for us to have ever rising standards of what we "need", never realizing and satisfied with what we already have even if far from "perfect". Most of us live better than Louis XIV. http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post131161
    So, yes, be charitable more. Volunteer. Step out of your comfort zone more. I do not mean to say that you must give money to every homeless person you see (I do not in most cases, because I have no guaranty how my money will be used. However, I donate and support social programs aimed at the homeless and providing meals. I have volunteered in soup kitchens too). You do not need to give away your every penny, but nurture simplicity in your life and do not forget those who have no warm place to sleep tonight,

    In this Practice, we truly get benefit from giving, and receive more than we actually give.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday in a comfortable, warm house.
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-18-2015 at 02:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by orangedice View Post
    make eye contact, smile, and in general learn to notice
    Hi June,

    This is priceless.

    Gassho, Jishin, #SatToday

  9. #9
    For you can give many immaterial things which may count even more than material things. What I mean is that when we are kind to each other, we are giving kindness, gentleness, comfort, peace, happiness, etc. So we can give by being kind. For example, we can lend a sympathetic ear to a troubled person, listen to him (or her) with compassion and give him comfort and encouragement.

    To the troubled person, your giving time to listen to him is more important than if he were to receive a material gift. So when we are living in a community, we should cultivate care and concern for each other, reaching out to help whenever we can. Then we give more kindness by speaking gently, soothingly, not harshly or angrily.

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Budd...f%20Giving.htm
    This really connected with me. Thank you Jundo. Even if I can't afford to give a $1 or buy a meal for someone here and there, just being kind and noticing their troubles is giving. This was something I was feeling guilty about before.

    Thank you so much for all your kind words, stories, and support. I feel less guilty about my choices, and I hope I can continue to have compassion and an open heart to those I meet on the street.

    Shoka, that article is great. I ended up sharing it with my Facebook friends. :P

    Gassho,
    June

  10. #10
    Giving has to be, never meant money. That is because i view money as something worthless. Time is more valuable than money, happiness, attention, care, compassion, even your skills as a person or profession. Helping people on an every day basis is always an option. Holding the door for someone who cannot. Helping the random tourists find their destination. Easing the burden of others stress or suffering. That to me is giving. Plus charity work, which requires time over money.

    Thats my two cents (because being poor thats all i have)

    Gassho
    James
    SatToday

  11. #11
    Hi June.

    Giving while not having enough for ourselves is a very powerful practice because not only you are helping others, but you are connecting to the need and to the humanity of others. Doing this softens the ego and let you appreciate more the many many blessings you currently have.

    The way I see it, we give to others because we all need compassion and a helping hand. We give to others because we have the obligation to respect and sustain life. We give to others because we understand that not having enough could be suffering. We give to others because it's the right thing to do.

    And in the same way, we must learn to accept help with humility and gratitude.

    Giving while not having enough is sacred. It's a jewel that I wish many more would understand.

    So share your food, your time and your beautiful smile. And feel grateful that you are in a position to do that, while feeling gratitude for the many times others have helped you.

    It's a perfect practice, really.

    But then again, I'm just a fool who might be totally crazy

    Thank you for sharing.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  12. #12
    You caught me on that... Giving time and a smile when you think you don't have enough for yourself.

    Deep bows.
    Danny
    #sattoday

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Hi June.

    Giving while not having enough for ourselves is a very powerful practice because not only you are helping others, but you are connecting to the need and to the humanity of others. Doing this softens the ego and let you appreciate more the many many blessings you currently have.

    The way I see it, we give to others because we all need compassion and a helping hand. We give to others because we have the obligation to respect and sustain life. We give to others because we understand that not having enough could be suffering. We give to others because it's the right thing to do.

    And in the same way, we must learn to accept help with humility and gratitude.

    Giving while not having enough is sacred. It's a jewel that I wish many more would understand.

    So share your food, your time and your beautiful smile. And feel grateful that you are in a position to do that, while feeling gratitude for the many times others have helped you.

    It's a perfect practice, really.

    But then again, I'm just a fool who might be totally crazy

    Thank you for sharing.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Kyonin,

    beautiful, true, and so well stated. Thank you for this.

    Also, yes, as others have said, listening with compassion is such a wonderful gift, it is really one of the greatest services you can offer, and the opportunity is all around you. It is like water in the desert for people, you will see it in their eyes.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  14. #14
    Member Getchi's Avatar
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    Im sorry I dont really know how to quote but as Jishin and yourself and Kyonin and DannyB emphasis smiling, eye contact and caring are some of the greatest gifts you can give - empathy!.

    As someone who has been homeless due to a lack of societal empathy (its ok, it kicked off my "Dharma-bum" stage), I cannot over emphasis how much being treated like a human is worth. Just in that one instant you probably gave a fellow human back some dignity - yes; you are worth thinking about, caring for, you are human like me. Just one meal like you gave, or a couple of dollars can change a persons day, week and even outlook on life. Dont underestimate how much your actions meant!!!

    Severe hardship taught my wife and I what truly makes you happy, and going through periods of excess taught us how fast friends come and go, and how hollow material desire truly is. When my wife was first pregnant she got very sick. The medical bills left us bankrupt and we lost our home. We struggled to afford enough food for us both to eat without a support network (I lived on chicken skin and the vegetables my wife couldnt eat for 3 weeks). Luckily I found some manual work and we eventually made it good. By the end of that period I had been offered a managerial role, but I cannnot comprehend how bad it would have got if my boss didn't decide to take on a guy he couldnt really afford to pay, or I had developed an addiction of any sort.

    It works the other way too, last christmas I had the pleasure of giving $50 to the cashier to cover the young couples bill in front of me at the shops. I told them to take the change as well, they only had nappies formula and bananas, and payed with change. I remember those times, and I was happy to help.

    And if you can, please go to http://freerice.com as often as you can. Its free and it helps so many people.

    Keep up the great work June, amd beautiful post Kyonin.


    Gassho,
    Geoff.

    SatToday.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by orangedice View Post
    This has been something I've been thinking about for a couple of weeks.

    I've always wanted to be charitable--volunteering for great organizations, making hats for the homeless, supporting friends going through anxiety and depression, etc. But aside from the latter, I've been less than successful in getting out of my comfort zone.

    For example, I've always felt compassion for the homeless. Despite this, I've always looked away or walked faster when passing a homeless encampment or someone panhandling. However, with zazen and loving-kindness meditation, I've learned to come out of my comfort zone and make eye contact, smile, and in general learn to notice them rather than turning away.

    More recently, when I was walking into a grocery store, a gentleman approached me and asked me for some change. When I said I didn't have any, he asked for some food instead (in particular, a TV dinner because his friend lets him use a microwave). I ran inside and grabbed something that I thought would be filling, plus a salad from the deli bar because the TV dinner had no greens whatsoever. I bought those items and ran back outside to give them to him. I didn't want him to think I forgot him. Then I returned to do my own grocery shopping.

    It felt good, and when I talked to my friend about it who knows about my financial situation, asked me why I would do that when I could barely afford groceries myself.

    So I've been thinking about that. I thought I was doing a good thing and learning to actually put an effort into being compassionate instead of my usual "I'm going to think about doing these things but not actually do them." But how can I help others when I can't really afford to? But then, what's money to me when a small contribution can help someone in need who's hungry or cold?

    I'm not really sure what my question is, but I guess I'm feeling insecure about my choices.

    Confused,
    June
    #SatToday
    orangrdice,

    By american standards I'm 'poor' too. Some of it is unintentional, a good part of the unintentional has turned intentional simply to not have too many indulgences preoccupy my time.

    I 'give' in many ways, having the fortunate misfortune of having to coped with a extensive past that was less then satisfactory (intentionally vague, this isn't about me really) all the way into childhood, I engage in all manner of down-low assistance in situations where there either isn't a clear cut services response available or there are no obvious appropriate services equipped to deal with certain issues that no one touches because those experiencing them feel they 'can't relate' to people that haven't even touched similar levels of trauma and suffering.

    Without elaboration for the privacy of individuals concerned, people appreciate having someone that has a degree of equanimity (usually, except when I'm crabby!) that they don't have that they feel they can relate to in a 'tough life issues' level even if they never take a single suggestion towards a dharma book or small meditation practice as I understand it.

    If you have been gifted with hell and found a degree of grace in it, consider reaching out to people that also suffer at least similar issues. I by no means believe that someone has to survive a humanitarian catastrophe to be more 'real' at Buddhism, far from it, the second arrow is the same for everyone and anyone is a valid practitioner that aspires and does mitigate both first and second arrow regardless of severity.

    Besides the 'meat and potatoes' stuff there are all sorts of things that one can do in small ways that I try to do as often as well.

    If I see some stock item displaced in a store clearly hypersensitive to the vanity aspect of display, I move it to whatever obvious uniformity is there. Saves someone a lecture from a manager over their minutely inadequate 'work performance'.

    If I am in some public situation requiring me to get something or do something in/from a mildly chaotic and crowded area and I have time to not have to rush to get my business done, I take the path of least resistance to not exacerbate the situation.

    If I have some kind of cooked leftover food, I feed it to the stray cats in the back (hide that one from the neighbors, hehe).

    Get creative with non-material helping, think of things you wish people would be considerate enough to do for you that are free and do them for others and see if there are any obvious solutions around you.

    I worry that too many think they need to start a multinational charity before they are practicing generosity when they can take the local, small steps to help too. You never know how a few well thought out small acts can have significant beneficial downstream effects past the act. It can backfire too, but for me, the more I do it the more small issues I find I can help that in the first point of contact can go wrong only in absurd ways that I more then forgive myself for enabling.

    I hope this helped

    Metta,
    Greg

    Sent from my ALCATEL ONETOUCH P310A using Tapatalk
    “A fine line separates the weary recluse from the fearful hermit. Finer still is the line between hermit and bitter misanthrope.” - Dean Koontz

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