The ultimate charity is to teach people the dharma. Near all the masters of the past did that. Bodhidharma coming to China was an act of charity. The Bodhisattva vow to save all beings is quite charitable.
Yes, I agree. I have no doubt about the "charity" of great Buddhist masters.
My question is if Buddhists who drive to the Buddhist center for a meditation session and then drive right back home are also "charitable" in the same sense.
Obviously, one can't teach the dharma without first learning it, but the question is if it's important for Buddhists to be charitable while they are still learning about the dharma.
You can engage in charitable acts like giving and taking care of people all your life and then die without even slightly getting closer to escaping samsara. Samsara cannot be made 'better' by any action - it's inherently suffering. This is a point of view very much at odds with the Judeo-Christian point of Western culture.
Samsara isn't a place, it is simply ignorance, this is why once ignorance is removed, there is enlightenment, so I sort of disagree that charity can't remove suffering. It certainty can, ask the homeless person receiving food or warm clothing from someone right now. They are being given a material thing, but also something much kinder.
But I do agree with
You can engage in charitable acts like giving and taking care of people all your life and then die without even slightly getting closer to escaping samsara
So why not do both?
( But I can hardly believe people like MLK, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, etc. weren't 'enlightened' in some way, already. )