A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Generous and Harmless

Generosity or giving is one of the ten marks of a Bodhisattva, and it is best done with no thought of recognition, or self gratification. Generosity generates karma, and if we share this karma with others we multiply its effects. Friendship is the basis for interaction with all those around us, and we are all co-dependent on each other, for our material and spiritual needs. Making ourselves a better person will result in better karma, but it is only when we use this improvement in ourselves, to help others achieve peace and enlightenment, do we receive a full measure for our effort. Generosity is also not avoiding contact with suffering, or walking blindly past a person who is suffering. Even if you cannot help the person today, does not mean you will never be able to help them. How many of us, walk past the homeless person and look the other way, so as to not acknowledge their existence, or pretend that we could never end up there. Economic situations can change, look at the great depression of the early 21st century when thousands of thousands lost everything, and many committed suicide or died from the ravages of a collapsed economy. For every economic boom is followed by a downturn, sometimes a minor setback sometimes a wiping out everything that entire people gained during the boom times. However when we extend a helping hand up, we are not to do so looking down on the person. We are all equal in importance. We also to be mindful, that we do not cause more suffering though our actions. If we give money to a beggar, and they use it to feed an addiction, then we are causing suffering to them, better to buy them some healthy food, or something else that is of benefit. I know of a lady who has a mobile phone with an unlimited Canada wide plan that she only uses to provide the opportunity for these people to connect with family, in some cases for the first time in over a decade. She does this with friends accompanying her, and has a self developed set of guidelines. However imagine the sense of relief to a parent who receives a call from an offspring for the first time in years. Just knowing they are alive gives hope to the parent in most cases. One other person I know, every few months will choose a homeless person and trade them a new pair of shoes for the old ones they are wearing. They don’t buy expensive trendy shoes, but good quality shoes meant for walking outdoors. They ask the person what size they wear, and if they would trade their old ones for a new pair, if the person agrees, the next day the trade is made, for a proper sized pair. Some optometrists here collect old prescription glasses to be reused to help the less fortunate here and overseas. By choosing how we help, we can avoid causing harm indirectly well still showing compassion to others.

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