Giving to the homeless

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Giving to the homeless

Postby Luke » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:06 pm

I thought I would create a thread about people's experiences with homeless people. I see homeless people quite frequently where I live.

Until about six months ago, I used to be like many people and just ignored homeless people and didn't give them anything. Now that I have a lama and am able to see my negative and selfish habits more clearly, I have started giving change to homeless people who are begging on the street. This is a very small step and is very little compared to the vast generosity of bodhisattvas, but I found it to be a significant learning experience. I found that I felt nervous and awkward the first few times I gave money to homeless people. But why should I care if other people think I'm foolish? And why should charity be embarrassing?

I realized that generosity, like kindness, is a skill and one which I need to practice much more to be good at. It takes courage and skill to be truly kind and generous. It's so much easier to be selfish and cold in modern society. We've internalized so many habits in order to protect our property at all costs.

Do any of you give anything to the homeless or show kindness towards them in any way?
Last edited by Luke on Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Giving to the homeless

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:59 am

Hi Luke,

I worked with people who didn't have a home for years. I found the work to be really rewarding and my intentions were really sincere. The pay's not great, but the paycheck wasn't my motivation.

The first thing that I found was that those folks were not so different than I was. In many ways, they had their own culture and common survival skills. I wished I could house every one of them, but at least I was some sort of constant in their lives. And hopefully a sort of support.

Thanks for this topic, I'm sure there's far more that can be said.

Kind wishes,
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Re: Giving to the homeless

Postby muni » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:40 am

Oh yes dear friends, all people whether in a palace or on the street share same experiences as we can do. They are spontaneous offering us also to see equality.

Homeless people in the west often get a bed and food as far as possible. Others are less fortunated. I called last week because here is so many fruit. I only got the aswer machine which said: "if you need a bed this night, call the other number...".

Homeless ones in other countries are with so many. Not only directly help is there beneficially and can also sometimes give wrong stimulation. Imagine on a walk in Calcutta with a camera around your neck: at once ten dirty tiny children and few adults are asking you help. voices from each direction. One child is taking your hand, big dark eyes in tiny face looking up: please, hungry!
The money is not for the poor children, they have to give it to someone. It get only very little for "his work". If a shop is in the area, some food is better. Of course then the question arise: what will they eat tomorrow.

To open our heart and be there for all our family members on earth should get top importance by authorities. Individual help is wonderful but not enough. Our homeless family deserve a work; roof, medicine, good food, education and warmth. :buddha2:
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Re: Giving to the homeless

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:31 am

muni wrote:To open our heart and be there for all our family members on earth should get top importance by authorities. Individual help is wonderful but not enough. Our homeless family deserve a work; roof, medicine, good food, education and warmth.


:namaste:
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Re: Giving to the homeless

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:38 pm

Luke wrote:Do any of you give anything to the homeless or show kindness towards them in any way?


I usually try to at least give some spare change to a homeless person when I pass by them. A couple of times I have given them some change or a dollar bill, only to find them on another day drinking alcohol. I try to just be mindful of the giving and my intention behind it. Or I try to remember that they may be drinking with the money, but surely must be buying some food with the money too (mine and others' combined).

Another time I saw a man begging at a busy street corner and then at the end of the day, taking the bus to go somewhere! I couldn't help but think that he must be taking the bus back to his apartment or house. Again, I just try and remember the intention behind the act, but sometimes it is not so easy.
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Re: Giving to the homeless

Postby Luke » Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:54 pm

TheDhamma wrote: I try to just be mindful of the giving and my intention behind it.


Hi Dhamma,

I think you have the right approach. My lama said that one should give without expectations and not worry whether the homeless person will buy alcohol with the money.

It's also possible to just give homeless people food instead, and I'd like to try that next.

My lama also said that it's possible to give people something even when you have no money. He told us a story about once when he was visiting the holy city of Varanasi in India when he was approached by a wandering beggar. My lama and the people he was travelling with gave the man some money, but the man complained that they gave so little money to him. My lama explained that they were not rich like Americans because they were from Eastern Europe. Then my lama looked at the beggar kindly and shook his hand. The beggar was amazed because he was in the "untouchable" caste and had never had his hand shaken by anyone outside his caste before, so it meant a great deal to him.

This shows that kind gestures can be acts of giving as well. I'll need to try this more myself.
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Re: Giving to the homeless

Postby muni » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:20 am

Oh that I really recognize what you tell there Luke.
Just return from India and had same experience of not giving enough. To see the other like the own being is for me the basic to act. No subject-object.
When others look to me like a walking wallet due to clean clothes and rucksack, than I must take care to not feed suffering desire by giving more and more.

No any differences by outer appearances. An untouchable is only existing in own deluled mind creation, by accepting the label.
There are only beloved human fellows, whether rich or poor appearing.

One girl who suffered from leprosy and lost her hands was always sitting on the same place. Each day she offered the most brightful smile, big eyes filled with joy. Some moment I gave her only 2 ruppee and other moments 10 ruppee, but her smile was the same. :hug:

In the west is it very easy to give and keep coins in our pocket ready to give. There are only few homeless human fellows.
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