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Giving Money To A Beggar

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Tashi Delek.

It happens now and then that a person approaches me on the street and asks me for some money. Or I see them kneeling in front of supermarket entrances or churches. I admit, when I am not directly approached, most of the times I look away. But sometimes I go to the person and give him some money.

And the funny thing is, that I don't feel good either way I react - if I don't give them money, I feel that I am not practicing generosity and am creating negative karma (and my mind says: hey, but you can find some cents extra); and if I give them money, I feel that I haven't done anything good anyway, because I am just empowering their behaviour and feeling of helplessness - if they see that they can gather money by begging and feeling sorry for themselves, then they will simply continue doing this. So, when I give them money, I indirectly help them to maintain this attitude, which will on a long term probably cause that they will also gather more negative karma.

I feel that I cannot help those beggars even if I completely empty my bank account - they won't change because of that and I will lose the opportunity to offer money and give donations to a worthy cause (for example, to sponsor a child in need or cover the costs of driving to the Teachings and offering donations to the Sangha).

All of this creates inner tensions in my mind. What can I do that would really benefit the beggars? One thing that I am sure of, is definitely to keep purifying my negative karma and practicing Dharma, attending the Teachings regularly and working on taming my mind to - hopefully!! - quickly see the situations from a wider perspective and realize, what exactly this person needs.

... But until then? ...

What would be the best thing to do when I find myself in those situations?

What do you do, what do situations like this arouse in your minds? And how do you react to it?

Thank you.

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Dear Mavrica,

thank you for exposig this, for me these are the situation that are constantly putting me in the same place for years: what will i do this time (when I meet it)? And it depends; on wheather I indeed have some change in my pocket and, on how I experience a person. There are some beggars I regularly come accross with - one for example is standing with his stick on the corner, not saying much, not doing much, just looking out the way he is; and just changing as we all change as getting old; though he changes more: looks a bit swallen and red, but not because of the drinks, he doesn't drink. There was a period of time that he in fact worked! I was very surprised and happy when I saw him selling some goods for someone at the stand. But then, this, sadly, stopped; he started to bag again. I give this beggar if I have, at least a "good day" and a smile.

But there is another one, much younger, who each time says to any who he beggs from, that he needs money for his bus ticket to get somewhere. He is constantly accumulating, if nothing else, negative karma also by lying, let alone his egocentic attitude (at least this is the way I experience him). He doesn't seem to see anybody. What does he need to wake up, I don't know? But the way I see it, not at all supporting the situation he is in.

 

I remember once i was in another European city, it was long time ago, I saw a boy of my age begging in front of the shop. I was so surprised (because he did not look poor or anything; who knows, maybe he just found himself in a situation to make him do this step) to see him begging that that obviously showed on my face. With this contact he just stood up and went away; I would not know I showed that surprise if i did not see it on his face.

 

And there was a time when i was alone abroad and had more often empty pockets than full ones and would oftenly be approcahed by beggars who would just be turning around repeating their same sentence: do you have some spare change please? Like machines. In front of one i once stooped looked at him asked him: do i look rich to you? He appologized, saying this he was not a machine anymore.

 

Some are really living their lives on the streets; some are just using the street for whatever they can get from it. And those who are living on the street, somehow do not forget to be people, at least this is the way i epxerience them. Once one beggar really surprised me expressing care, when i was passing by, that showed in that he knew a lot about me from passing by him on the same street daily. This man i will never forget.

The way we meet them they meet us to. Some do. I think.

 

These are some of my expereinces. :)

I hope there will be more smoothness in your such situation soon.

All the very best,

pamo

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Here is my experience: whenever I see a beggar in the street, whether he/she be kneeling in front of a mall, sitting against a wall or next to a sandwich shop, I go out of my way and fetch into my pockets, without second thoughts. They beg not for pleasure, but out of necessity. They need support from those who don't have to beg, so I give them this support. They can always count on me...

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Tashi Delek dear All,

I used to pitty them, but give nothing to no beggars, because I had no intention to support laziness, alcool adictions, etc....I had to sweat to earn for living, had empty pockets most of time, so why would I share with someone who chooses to sit around on streets with a bottle day after day...

 

It was such a relief the day it came to me that I will not change the beggar by practicing stinginess on him, nor are others choiches much of my business...If I have anything to share, I share it with happiness, I can always dedicate it for the benefit of all beings (or even more speciafically, dear Mavrica, for hearing a teaching, which could help me on the path to help others in a better way, creating the causes maybe to arrive at that teaching regardless of the money situation) and go on withouth the mind tormented by questions and doubts...

:dontknow:

 

All the best!

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It is difficult to know what are the reasons and motivation of someone in the street. Indeed, some because of addictions, some for other problems, and sometime some are not poor at all but begging brings quite some money without real work.

In most case though, I try to help because such situation often comes from difficulties, and because the practice of generosity is one of the most important virtue.

 

Though, I usually do prefer to buy some food and give them, rather than money.

 

All the very best

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Tashi Delek.

 

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts with me and thank You, Ven. Rinpoche, for Your opinion.

 

Pamo, you reminded me of one thing I forgot to mention but is very important to me too - I don't want to support somebody to keep lying to get something he wants. My last experience, on the ground of which I decided to ask this question, was with a young guy of my age, leaving a bar, having an alcohol breath and cigarette smell, asking me for 20 cents he supposedly lacked of to buy a bus ticket. At that moment, by looking into his eyes, I got the feeling that he was lying, so I didn't give him the money he asked for. but I see now that I could have talked to him about it and learn more about his true motives. then I would have at least known them. I should not simply stop at taking my personal assumptions for granted.

 

Dani, thank you for reminding me on this very simple fact - I can always dedicate whatever I give away. how come I keep forgetting this? :blush: so I can dedicate the money I give for the beggar's good, for him to find a spiritual path as quickly as possible. and yes, for me (and countless others) to keep on creating better and better circumstances for attending and following the Teachings.

 

Frederic, I admire your selfless giving without asking. yes, indeed, there are many people in need and we, who are at the moment in a position to provide this help, should not hesitate to act. I am sure you brighten many people's days with your virtuous actions.

 

Well, I guess there will soon be another opportunity for me to explore and apply a different way of reacting to a beggar's plead. :angel:

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hi !

 

As everyone here I was frequently approaching by some beggars, but if I have the time I'm used to speak with them, why they need money? for what and who ? It's not because I'm speaking with them that I'll give them money !

One time, a women and her dog, were at the entrance of a supermarket, I asked her why she beged, she answered me, it was for her children then I asked her again what does she needed .. Then at the same time of buying my goods I've take some goods for her too (broad, milk, pasta, vegetables), she was so happy, and by this act I was sure she couldn't buy alcohol or cigarettes, I'm used to see her again, but she don't ask me to buy anything, she just smiles at me !

 

But I have also satisfaction in not especially offer something to a beggar, I know an old man who's stay always at the same place, each time I'm crossing the street, anybody took a look at him and I think he was sad because of this situation, but even if I'm hurry I'm giving him a look and say hello, he's always joining his hand and I'm doing the same as a kind of respect for his person. It's so simple, it's nothing but a coin won't necessarly give him a smile.

 

But the worse experience I had with beggars, was in Paris in front of the great Cathedral, a little girl (about 8 / 9 years old) had accosted me and was about to impose me to pay after several explenations, I was quite upset by her behaviour but I didn't give anything !

 

In my opinion, it's a pity, a shame to use children in this way to have what the adults want ! But all the beggars are not bad and the most of them just want humanity from the rest of the society !

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But all the beggars are not bad and the most of them just want humanity from the rest of the society !
There has to be something wrong with the society, if the beggars are taken as something normal. Due to one theory, the phenomena which are proclaimed as normal, are those which are repeated so many times that people get used to them and as the consequence taken as something "normal". It is clear that we live in society where all the people are not regarded equaly, some are more or less discriminated and hindered in integration, partly because they do not do anything to be integrated and left the decisions to the others or simply because they don´t feel so.

 

Best Regards,

Simona

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Yeah I agree!

 

Some people do all what they can to don't be integrated to the society and be taken in pity, but it will always exist some beggars that who don't want to work, and it's a choice. But Sometimes there are some other reasons, due to the loan or other money problems and then it won't be a question of integration anymore. We don't have to put all the beggars on the same basket isn't it !? But there's not only discimination of the society towards the beggars, but there's also inequality in the height of the society too !! it's viscious !! ://

 

best regards !

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People can be problematic. There are so many reasons, consequences and modes of being troubled as there is number of sentient beings. What gives me right to "favourise" only one sort of troubled persons (for example, those who lost the job and due to some unfortunately circumstances found themselves on the street) and the others "rather do not prefer so much" (for example, the one who does not want to work, is lazy, is aggresive, drinks alcohol, etc.)? If I would like to act in a correct way then first I need to check my thinking. Do I take all the sentient beings, no matter the expression of their troubles, equaly and do I take the beggars as "they have always been there on the street, they are and they will always be, so no point of putting any effort to help them, because if I help even all of them, tomorrow new will come."? When I will change my thinking reagarding those two points, I am sure this would lead me to find out and see means and ways to better understanding and more beneficial approach.

 

Peace to all,

Simona

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Any fellow human being poses a unique challenge to all of us who want to practice kindness, (AND of course accumulate positive karma). Dharma teaches us to give, but I think to fully understand the teachings we must have a look at the socio-cultural environment in which our teachers over the past few centuries have given I (or not). (AND it seems in many instances they did not give what people asked of them; out of their wisdom they knew when to say no).

 

In my opinion, at all times whether we give or not, the intention must be to help. Whether the person really needs the money/ food, or whether he is just begging because it is an easy way of income should no affect our decision. In most western countries (As well as South Africa - though it is an African country), there is numerous organisations that will look after the people who beg.

 

If you give to the beggars (whether they are children, adults, sick...); you then keep them away from these organisations (churches, social organisations, govt institutions etc) best equipped to help them. As long as you provide money/food/shelter, then they do not need to adress the terrible situation they are in; and in many instances giving just aggravates the situation.

 

In such a situation it would be clearly be bad for the person who receives the money or food from you, and as such you are enabling them in perpetuating their negative actions. I would sugegst that if you want to help, become part of an organisation that adresses the problem holistically. You do more damage by giving a few cents, than what you would by simply ignoring the beggar.

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I would sugegst that if you want to help, become part of an organisation that adresses the problem holistically. You do more damage by giving a few cents, than what you would by simply ignoring the beggar.

I can't join such categorical standpoint; because i think things are much more complex than black and white. And between certain states of mind there are few steps needed to make a move...a change. On the other hand.... ;) what if it's not about us helping...but being helped! ;) I saw a beggar giving money to a group of street musicians today. A moment of change in attachment from he-knows-best-what and the beauty of sound? Or a t(T)eacher of non-attachment; generosity??

:dontknow: !

kind regards

pamo

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I carry change around with me at all times because of the presence of beggars among us. It gets a little difficult only when travelling abroad, though it is easier around the religious holy sites where you can often buy some change. If there's any problem with the police I resort to the colonialist approach and only speak in English - usually works.

 

Biggest concern of mine right now is what are we to do with our working gypsy couple living in the basement flat. The man will almost certainly lose his first and only "real" job he's ever had in the next day or two (he's 35 from Bosnia with no education, no physical strength and very brown) and his wife probably within the next couple of months. She's a Slovene citizen with the equivlant of six-years elementary school behind her and all the survival skills of someone who has been through hell and back but not exactly too strong mentally. We're putting out feelers with regards to finding her employment with someone who will actually pay her something.

 

I think rather than worry about why and what a beggar is doing on the street, we need to focus on helping people stay out of that situation and having a little compassion for all those finding themselves there.

 

PS I'd like to see this discussion continued

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Here I go again answering another one of my own posts. So shoot me, but I just forgot to give the details about what I give to beggars. In Slovenia I give a 1 Euro coin to healthy men or women, especially to the those imported to beg by organised crime, a 2 Euro coin to the unhealthy, a cigarette or two to alcoholics who smoke and at least five minutes of my time to those whose breath stinks of alcohol or are drinking or who are obviously drug addicts.

 

I can sometimes spend as much money on beggars in Slovenia in a month as I do on the Dharma. How are the finances of Zavod Dharmaling getting along nowadays by the way?

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Hello,

In Slovenia I give a 1 Euro coin to healthy men or women, especially to the those imported to beg by organised crime,

Similarly as you, I try to give some money to the beggars. I usually give to those selling the magazine of the homeless Kralji ulice - Kings of the street (it costs 1 euro and the seller gets half a euro). Maybe this makes them direct their life in the more constructive direction in the long term. I am skeptical about giving to those imported to beg by organized crime - perhaps by paying them we are actually sustaining organized crime that is enslaving them :( ?

 

In Slovenia I give ... a cigarette or two to alcoholics who smoke.

Hmm, hmm, I don't know :dontknow: . In the thread about smoking and karma, quite some horrific details about smoking were listed :o .

 

Best regards,

Draftsman

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Thank you Draftsman, particularly directing us to the discussion about smoking and karma. I can't easily dismiss this off hand. And I won't. But perhaps we can also look at something I read about not to long ago in a popular magazine about the cancerous effects of burning incense.

There is also something I read about not offering garlic to lamas and I'm sure vegetarianism and acts associated with the giving or taking of meat spring to mind, including stories about His Holiness sneaking out of his palace as a young boy to his parent's home to sample a nice bit of pork he knew he could get there.

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