Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
15. GIVING - SHARING - HELPING
If you want to Lift yourself up, Lift up someone else.
Whatever you give, should be given with Faith, never without faith, but with Joy, Modesty & Kindness.
Whether you believe in the theory of reincarnation or not, there are few puzzling facts about life. Two children born at the same time in two different households, one is born with a golden spoon while the other one is born a pauper. Why such disparities? And who creates these disparities? We can go on writing volumes about such things. Most common explanation given is that these are our KARMAS (what we did) which we did in our last incarnation. Were our deeds good? If so, then we shall lead a good comfortable life. If not, then we may lead a wretched life.
Of all the good deeds in our present life, most distinguished is to help others, those not born so lucky. Help is by sharing with others what we have and others don’t. That brings us to GIVING AND SHARING. Some like to Give, while some like to get. Some like to eat themselves, while some like to feed others. Who amongst these is happier? Who amongst these enjoys his life and leads a satisfied and meaningful existence? Who really lives? Who simply exists, makes an appearance and goes?
Friends, real joy and bliss in life comes from giving and sharing our wealth and assets with others. Imagine you are eating your meal all alone sitting in a corner or, in another situation, sharing it with your colleagues. A simple meal is turned into a feast by sharing. I have, umpteen number of times, come across people simply forgoing their meal, because they would have to eat all alone. For animals, it does not matter, it seems. But for Humans eating together, sharing their food, is a feast. Understandably, you tend to eat more when you are eating in a group. Eating together brings a great feeling of bonhomie, delight and team spirit.
In Palestine, there are two Seas. Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Though both are called Sea, but what a significant difference between the two. In Sea of Galilee, water is sweat. Fish, lots of marine life and other creatures, all live there. There is greenery all around with beautiful birds singing and chirping, making the entire surroundings very hospitable and lush green. Lots of people live around it. Jesus sailed around it many times. It can be correctly said that Sea of Galilee is full of life within and all around it. Reason is that water comes to the Sea of Galilee through river Jordan, which flows into the Sea of Galilee and flows out from the bottom. Sea retains the water it needs, rest flows off. So from one side it gets, from other side it gives. No wonder, everything connected with this Beautiful Sea is so full of life.
But Dead Sea? As the name indicates, is dead in every sense of the word. It retains whatever water it gets. Like Sea of Galilee, it does not give off. Hence, the water is highly saline and even fish does not live in it. No wonder, it is called Dead Sea.
So Give or Share not for others’ sake, but for your own sake, for your own happiness and joy. God is so kind to you. Just count the blessing He has showered you with. Perhaps you have never counted them? If you do, then it will be like counting stars in a dark night. Countless blessings. If we share these blessings with His creatures, countless more will come. Man can have dearth. There is no dearth with God.
A singer, sports person or a talented professional, anyone of these and so many others are gifted persons. Various talents which these people have, are in fact, gift of God to them. For example, even if someone does batting practice for a hundred years, he cannot match the talent of Sachin Tendulkar or Vishwanathan Anand in chess. Such talented singers, sportspersons or actors get their gifts of talent from God. So, money which such stars make, is in fact, a gift from God to them. It is God’s way of rewarding the blessed. They must share it with other God’s creatures, which will enhance their talent and bring them happiness, joy and satisfaction. Such talents or money earned from them, should never be monopolized by them for themselves only or for their selfish ends.
That’s why most of the corporates now have a separate CSR Department (Corporate Social Responsibility). The CSR fulfills their social obligations towards the society by helping the needy in so many ways. Every lucky one, gets so much from society. Any business or professional talent becomes big, because people buy their products or fans pay money to watch their stars. Profit thus made, must be shared at least in part, with society’ s not so lucky ones, because only when people buy the products or the tickets for the shows, then only stars become real stars and rich.
It’s very heartening that many of the world’s Billionares, such as Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates, are not only giving away half their wealth to charity, but also motivating and inspiring world’s other rich people to follow their example. They have visited India also to get rich people to commit to give at least part of their wealth to charity, either during their lifetime or at their death. They cal it the ‘GIVING PLEDGE’, which seeks to establish new tradition and culture of Philanthropy.
At least 58 super rich families in US have already taken the ‘Giving Pledge’ publicly. And the best part is that it makes them very happy, when the wealth they have created, is put to good use for the benefit and uplifting those not born so lucky. Latest entrant in this distinguished club of Philanthropists, has been Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist Indian American in Silicon Valley, US who has pledged half of his US$1.4 billion wealth to charity. I am sure these super rich would feel much happier and contented now giving away half their wealth, compared to how they felt earlier with their entire wealth.
Have you heard of Karl Rabeder, the Austrian Millionaire who gave all his wealth away in charity to help poor people? In his famous statement, he says “Wealth doesn’t create happiness” but when shared with others not so lucky, same wealth can create lots of happiness. Its only when, you hoard it or accumulate it only for yourself, it does not create happiness. Just try buying an ice cream cup to a child in rags who have, perhaps, never tasted ice cream earlier. Even if you yourself take hundred cups of the most delicious ice creams, you would not have that feeling of happiness and exhilaration, which you would have, seeing your small gesture making that child happy.
Most of the people spend their almost entire life, generating and accumulating wealth and material possessions. Most of them accumulate much more than their entire requirement for life. In their entire life, most of them, neither enjoy the wealth nor the bliss and joy of giving. Ultimately, when they die, their entire wealth and possessions are inherited by the siblings, who invariably fight over the leftover fortune, within themselves and sometimes in the courts. Even before the death of the old man, who has accumulated so much, fights amongst the siblings start, making life hell for the person, who has worked so hard to accumulate the fortune, never giving anything to charity or any needy person. We can only feel pity for such senseless and mindless accumulation of the fortunes without social responsibility.
As per the reports, with Indian Economy booming, number of wealthy Indians is growing faster than any other country in the world. It is only when people buy the products, that companies do better and people get rich but profits thus generated must be shared with society and employees because of whose efforts wealth is generated. Such gesture makes the giver happy and joyful to lead a more blissful, vibrant and satisfied life. You are happier and joyful as a giver, be it wealth, love, time or service
Wealth has been a curse to many families, which have been destroyed by the jealousy and fights it has created within the families. With wealth, one trait is natural and common. The more you have, more you want. So the desire to have more and more is endless and never fulfilling. Unfortunately, during their life time, they never want to share it, nor do they want to give anything to those who need it so badly.
Life is lived more in mind than outside. That is also the curse of wealth, wanting more and more. Never satisfied, never contented. It becomes a vicious circle. More they have, more they want. Nothing satisfies them. One is in sort of, turmoil, always thinking that others such and such have more. They don’t see what they have. They only see others who, they think, have more than them. They become jealous, envious, irritable. They become convinced that they are living a rotten existence. Everyone has so much, only they have ‘nothing’. So nothing gives them happiness. They have never known the real joy of living. Only acrimony, dissatisfaction, discontentment and presumed unfairness of God, are their permanent companions.
Once again, you have the choice. God is very kind. With wealth, He gives choices also. You want to be like the Sea of Galilee or like the Dead Sea. Do you want to give away some, share it with others, so that a meaningful existence full of joy and happiness results, or you want to own it all, never give, never share, never satisfied, always hoping that you will be able to carry it with you when His Call comes.
Often, people are seen buying huge amounts of jewellery and expensive sarees and other clothes from the showrooms paying huge amounts to the stores, but when they come out, same persons can be seen haggling with Autos and rickshaw people, to save a few rupees. Many times, people spend crores on marriages or other family functions, but when it comes to giving a raise to their servants or employees, they count each penny. Such people are truly pitiable, because they not only deprive themselves of the joy and bliss, which giving and sharing their wealth with the needy, would bring them, but also deprive themselves of their blessings and good wishes.
Joy of giving and sharing is unique and would give you intrinsic pleasure, happiness and satisfaction of unique kind, which you can feel only when you indulge in this act of giving and the feeling would surpass any physical pleasure you get from getting. When you give, give liberally, so that you also get liberally from Him. Most of us remember how we have helped others but forget how much others have helped us. It is human tendency to remember what you give and forget what you have been given. Overcome it and remember others’ fine gestures, help, cooperation and support with gratitude. It pays.
In a small child, negative emotions are naturally there. He wants everything he likes or gets attracted to. He is very possessive of his toys and does not want to share them with other children. Many times, child not only wants his own things, but also wants every other toy from other children too. This habit gets ingrained in the people unless changed in the childhood.
Children must be encouraged to share their toys and other possessions. If they are taught such things from early childhood, they grow up to be caring and sharing and enjoy the life’s bliss in plenty, during later years. In Hindu spirituality, it is imperative that children should be given such Samanskar or values by the parents. Moreover, it is in the interest of the parents only, that their children grow up to be caring and sharing. Then only they would takes care of them in their old age. Otherwise, once they have their own family, they would have no compunction in walking away, leaving the aged parents high and dry, which can be seen in many families these days.
Selfish and self-centered children are not only so for others, but will also be for their own family, parents, brothers and sisters. If right from the beginning, children are brought up in giving and sharing atmosphere, they would be joy to be watched growing up. When, as parent, you bring something for children, give it to one child and ask him to share it with others, instead of bringing separate parcels for each child. This way you help the child right from his childhood to share things with others rather than always having a separate thing all for himself.
People, often, do not give because they want to leave for their heirs. Sant Kabir used to say ‘Poot Kapoot, to kyon dhan sanchay. Poot Sapoot, to kyon dhan sanchay’. Meaning is simple ‘If the sibling is bad, then whatever you leave, he shall waste or blow it away. If sibling is good, then no worry, he shall be able to fend and create wealth for himself and others. In both cases, there is no need for you to accumulate and leave the wealth for the siblings.’ On a question, how much to leave for your heirs or provide for them? Warren Buffett also advises ‘By leaving much, are you not taking away from them, the gift of work and achievement, which is our main source of happiness. Leave your kids enough to do anything but not enough, to do nothing’.
All great leaders of the world are remembered for what they have given to the societies, nations and to the world, not what they got. Billions and billions were born on this planet earth and perished through the centuries. Only those few who ‘gave’ something to the world, be it their talents, inventions, discoveries, determination to achieve worthy goals, so that others benefit, are remembered and will be remembered through the ages. Those who have ’taken’ from society for themselves or for their families, are forgotten except for their misdeeds. When an obituary is printed in a paper, nothing adds more value and pride to the passage than the word ‘………. Philanthropist’. Simple, what you do for others, give to others is cherished and remembered by those who live to enjoy the fruits of your generosity, altruism, humanity and selflessness. Otherwise, one is forgotten soon.
Joy of giving is maximized when you do not expect anything in return. Here is a catch. If you are giving to see your name in papers or announcements, then the act of giving will only generate negative returns for you. Your maximum happiness and enjoyment is when you give and forget. You expect nothing in return nor tell anyone. It’s called ‘Gupt daan’ in Hindi, which may be explained as charity, which is kept secret or not made public.
Bible elevates charity, kindness, giving, helping and compassion to an act of love. Gospels favour silent giving, thereby delinking the act of giving with doership, as also in Gita “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” says Gospel of Matthew,6:3. Readers may try this and see for themselves. Though, initially, some may think that what is the point in parting your hard earned money, if no one else knows? Yes, you will realize only after experience, that charity is best done for your own sake, for your own happiness, joy and satisfaction and not for the receiver’s sake or good name it may generate for you.
In social circles, they are the type, who can be counted upon to help, if any one needs their help. They are very popular sort of people and in any social function, are sought after by everyone. Since I have been observing them for a long time, I find them very humble, positive and motivating type, apart from giving, sharing and helping types. They never indulge in gossip and never speak ill of any one. They always speak good of others and spread goodness always. Both of them are always joyous and happy looking.
Once, when we were driving down to one children’s home little far away from Chennai, I asked him, “Tell me Balaji, were you always like that? I mean I find you both quite extra ordinary couple and human beings. Why don’t you tell me more about your past?” Since, he is always very amiable type, he immediately related his story as follows;
Till about ten years back, they were like most others. He was very much dissatisfied with life and most of the time, remained under great tension and stress. This took toll on his health, both mental and physical. He was mostly full of anger and would get irritable over small things both at his home and at his business. He was always afraid that something bad would happen to him and family.
At home, both husband and wife would, often, have fights over trivial matters, which resulted in more dissatisfaction in the way they were living. Almost always, feeling of emptiness accompanied him, day and night. This resulted in lack of sleep during the night, which resulted in more tension and dissatisfaction. He started taking sleeping pills, which as usual, became less and less effective as the time passed. Unfortunately, his wife was also in the same position. In short, both were not at all at peace with themselves and with the circumstances. Luckily his business had been doing well and he was able to construct a house for themselves.
One day, after both husband and wife had a serious argument over a trivial matter before going to bed, while it was raining and, as usual, he was not able to sleep during the night, he just came to his balcony, which overlooked nearby area. Since, he always came and went by car, he had never even noticed few huts next to their house. In the rain and in the dim street light, he could see some movement in those huts. From his experience, he could make out that things were not all right there. Impulsively, he went down, took an umbrella, opened the main gate of his bungalow and went there to the huts to see for himself, what was happening.
He was horrified to see that huts were damaged badly and provided no cover or shelter to the poor families with small children and everyone was totally wet in the night, including whatever belongings they had. It was a pathetic and most unbearable sight for him to see in his life. Totally dumb stuck at the pitiable sight with small children shivering with cold rainy water, he was surprised to see his wife also there who, not been able to sleep herself, had followed him. In one sight, both husband and wife knew what needs to be done. Immediately, both asked all the family members to come and stay in their house for the night and they shall see what can be done in the morning.
They brought every one home with whatever things they could pick up and lodged them in the vacant hall in the ground floor. His wife brought a trunk full of old clothes for them to wear. They had also gone without dinner in the night, so his wife cooked a big pot of rice with daal putting whatever vegetables were available in the house and fed them. Very proudly, Balaji told me that though whole exercise took about two hours that night, but those two hours changed their whole life for good.
In the morning, Balaji told me, he arranged for the new huts to be made for them, got the whole area cleaned and livable. They also got provisions for the families for a few days and offered to get them anything they need in future. The look of gratitude on the face of the families at the end of the day, was their reward. This small incidence in the night changed their lives for good forever. Giving-Sharing-Helping, has since become motto of their lives. They have never looked back since then.
Since this incidence, both husband and wife sleep well and are at peace with themselves and with each other. They have never had a fight and have become extremely understanding of each other. Their whole outlook to life has changed since. Their life is total bliss and blessed. Now they feel so happy and joyful, when they can be of help to anyone. They like nothing better than giving and sharing their wealth with those, who are not born so lucky. And the best part is that they have never found dearth. The more they give, more they get. Their business is zooming since this incidence and they find God’s hand in whatever they do. They have never felt better.
Your life is truly blissful when you think of others’ interest before your own. Instead of thinking, what is there in it for me, think us. When you give others, become kind and compassionate, God will positively reciprocate by His own methods. Make your base wide, so that lots of people get benefitted by your efforts. When others accrue benefits from your efforts, that satisfaction will be unique. Even when you ‘give’ with a small ‘g’, God Gives you with a capital ‘G”.
When it is giving-sharing-helping, it is not only with money only. Even when you give surprise smile to a stranger during your morning walk, it also amounts to giving. Then it could be the most precious commodity these days, TIME which you can give to a charity or NGO. You have to take some time off from your busy schedule to participate in charity work. Your presence, enthusiasm and commitment may motivate many others to follow you. In fact, social or charity work for those not so fortunate, is best done collectively as a team to derive maximum happiness and satisfaction. Whatever you do for others or give, must come straight from your heart. Best part is that you come across many interesting like-minded people and develop new company and relationships.
Most touching aspect of giving-sharing-helping is that the receiver should not feel small or humiliated. Best is to show grace while giving and gratitude to God, that he has made you capable of giving. Whatever you give, must be given in recipient’s hands so that you do not take away his self respect, which as a giver, you must value. Basic idea is that you should be humble and show humility while giving. It’s God’s way to reward you for your earlier good deeds. You are lucky to be God’s conduit between Him and those unfortunates.
About 500 years back, Sant Kabir, a Hindi poet and social reformer, wrote a small poem about ‘giving’ thus “ Chiriya Chonch Bhar Le Gayi, Nadi Ko Ghatyo na Neer, Daan diye dhan na ghate, Kah gaye das Kabir”. Translated into English it says, “a Sparrow flies away with beakful of water. A river does not undergo any depletion of its water due to this. Similarly when given away your wealth, it does not decrease”
This is the essence of life and surest way to heaven, whenever one has to take that. So, when you give-share-help, no need for you to be afraid of death, because you have already booked a berth in heaven, with your compassion and kindness.
The only thing you ever keep is what you give away.
More you Give. More HE Gives.
The Heart that Gives, Gathers.
Do something for someone else. The Good you do, Boomerangs back to You, many times over.
Make a living by what we get,
but make a LIFE by what we GIVE.
You will get everything from life, if you help
enough people to get what they want.