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The power of selfless giving

The aim of giving is to lessen our selfishness.

Children, we can never get enough of wealth. Nevertheless, we can make the best use of it by donating to people who are struggling in life and who need money badly. When going on pilgrimages, we carry money with us to give as alms to beggars. We set aside coins for this purpose and will be careful not to give anyone more than five rupees.

The aim of giving is to lessen our selfishness. But we are miserly even in giving. However rich we may be, our wealth will not remain with us forever. We must help the suffering as much as we can. Before giving, we must first know whom we are giving to and what they need. We may give food and clothing, but not money, to unfamiliar beggars. If we give them money, they might use it for drink or drugs. Thus, by giving them money, we are giving them an opportunity to do wrong.

We must give generously to those who lack the means to work, to orphans, to the destitute elderly, and to the ailing who have no money to buy medicine. It is our dharma, our duty, to do so. But we must be careful that our aim is not name and fame.

The residents of a nursing home and guests were enjoying the cultural programs being presented as part of the nursing home’s anniversary. Suddenly, a man entered the hall where the function was taking place and switched off all the fans. He was a prominent businessman from that city.

One of the residents asked him, “Why did you switch off the fans? The heat is unbearable.”

The merchant said, “I was the one who donated all the fans in this nursing home. My name is printed on them. But if the fans are whirling all the time, no one will see my name. I switched off the fans so that those attending today’s function know that I donated the fans.”

Such donation cannot be called giving at all. The businessman’s attitude might even cause him to lose the spiritual merit he earned through his donation.

The attitude of the person who gives is of utmost importance. When a wealthy man donates for the sake of gaining fame or with some other selfish motive in mind, his donation is degraded into a mere commercial transaction.

But when one gives, seeing God in others, at personal cost and without expecting anything in return, the results of that giving will be truly great.

Once, in the centre of a village there was a beautiful statue of a great mahatma with his arms outstretched. On a plaque beneath the statue, these words were inscribed: “Come into my arms!”

Over time, the arms of the statue fell off. The villagers gathered to decide the fate of the statue. Some suggested it should be removed and replaced by a new one.

Others objected, saying new arms should be made.

But an old man stood up and said, “No, don’t worry about making new arms. Let it be without arms.”

The villagers wondered, “But what about the plaque underneath? It says, ‘Come into my arms!’”

The old man replied, “That’s no problem. Just below the words, ‘Come into my arms,’ you should add, ‘but I have no other arms than yours.’”

God works through our arms, through our eyes and through our ears. May we become ideal instruments in the hands of the divine to allow him to flow through us.

The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian.

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The New Indian Express
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