Monday, August 24, 2015


If charity makes you feel better about yourself, it's not really charity, right?

I mean, let's face it, it you help someone across the street to prove to yourself that you're really a decent human being after all, the person receiving the assistance is better off for your effort, I'll grant you that, but you didn't really do it to help the person - you did it to feel better about yourself.  That's fine, but that's not charity, and would you have helped that person out if your own self-esteem hadn't already been in doubt?

If you give money to a cause to feel better about yourself, that's not really charity, either - you're donating to your own ego, not the cause, even if the cause does benefit from your donation.

Real charity is when you donate money you can't really afford to something you don't believe is worthwhile.  You don't feel better about yourself (you might even feel worse) but you do it anyway - that's real charity in my humble opinion.

Real charity is giving that dollar that feels the hardest, just like real courage is not not being afraid, but doing something in spite of being afraid.  It's like giving money to the drunk on the street, who says he's just trying to get bus fare back home to go help his family, and even though you just know he's going to use it to buy booze and that you're being had, you reach in your pocket anyway and give what you have.

Be suspicious of any charitable act that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

1 comment:

Jeff Albrizze said...

I have spent a good amount of time looking at this myself. I wanted to make sure my motivation was 100% altruistic. I started to find myself doing less acts of kindness and giving, because I wasn't sure my motivation was completely pure. I have an OCD tendency towards black and white thinking. I finally committed to this strategy - If I ever feel like doing some act of kindness or generosity, I just do it. The world definitely needs more kindness and compassion. Where my focus is now, is to see where my clinging or aversion comes in, and through my zen practice I work on "opening the hand of thought" and transform my selfishness into giving. As long as we are trapped in this prisons of flesh and bone, I think there will almost always be a small degree of feeling satisfied with doing good works. It is when I get attached to that feeling, or identify the feeling as being "me" that the suffering increases.