A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Happiness is greater than Wealth Part II

Yesterday I stuck my little toe into the ocean of giving back some of what we have been blessed with. I am not going to ask how you choose to do it, nor am I asking what agency if any you support. Those are your choices, and no one has the right to tell you to change. No one, not even that telemarketer who just interrupted your meal, to convince you to support a new cause, has the right to choose for you. Here in Canada for example we have over 80000 registered charities, these having a tax number to allow you to deduct your donation from income, at tax time. In the USA there are over 1,000,000 charities registered. So it’s probably likely there will be one you feel drawn to support, if you choose this route to give back to the community. Here in Canada we have a few ways to find out how a charity is doing as far as getting the donations to where they are needed. How much is used by administration costs, fund raising costs, etc. Moneysense magazine does an annual Canadian charity report: http://www.moneysense.ca/2011/09/15/the-2011-charity-100/ for example. It is not the only point to consider, however if a charity is spending most of its money on salaries, perks for the executives, or outside fundraisers, I begin to consider if it is worth a donation. Granted a small charity with 2 full time staff may have a higher percentage towards admin then a larger charity. The point I am trying to make, is if we give to a charity, is it actually helping the intended recipients? We cannot have a deluded view of our actions and assume all is well, just because we gave at the office so to speak. Perhaps instead of giving to a charity, you decide to volunteer to go work on a project. There are many ways to do this; some even allow you to experience a new country or culture as you help others.  Good article to prime the thoughts if you are considering this route may be found here: http://www.go-volunteerabroad.com/volunteer-abroad-blog/volunteer-abroad-free/1637  Of course there are also many ways to volunteer close to home, at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, a community association or many others. Seeing the smile on someone’s face after they have received a hand up, instead of a hand out, is worth more than whatever dollars you didn’t earn during that period of time. This type of giving can be as simple as helping someone learns to speak your local language. I am not talking about formal classes, rather just having a conversation with them, about everyday topics, such as local news, daily routines such as shopping. There are many ways to give back to those around us. Not all of us can do this fulltime, however if we all take the middle path and do some, the world will be a better place. Tomorrow I’ll start diving deeper into money according to a Buddhist perspective.

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