Thursday, 17 November 2016

Acting without actions - Donation


Greed revisited

As long as one is in a body there are needs and it is wise to accumulate resources to meet those needs. The tendency to accumulate is an Egoic tendency and is necessary for survival. However this useful behaviour sometimes gets out of control and turns into the affliction of greed and hoarding. We have already studied that in depth in previous articles on Ego. Here we will discuss a corrective action that can be employed in case one falls into such behaviour. Donation is an action to obliterate greed and restore peace and detachment.

It seems most of humanity is afflicted with greed, especially in this materialistic and consumerist era. So much so that it is considered a good thing to be greedy and to hoard as much stuff as possible. Those who consume more are the high class and those who survive on crumbs, bare basic, are peasant class. Obviously , greed results in a mad pursuit of money and objects, and these are never enough. A greedy man attracts other greedy opportunists around him, who are actually after his money. Such a life soon turns into major suffering. Its an unfulfilled life, meaningless and full of fake people.


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This condition arises mainly because of ignorance that objects and people who worship your money, are necessary for happiness. The goal of happiness is chosen automatically as usual but there results only suffering because there is no freedom here. A greedy man is a slave of money, objects, food and drinks. The suffering ensues as soon as someone else is seen to own more money, or when money departs taking along with it his "loved ones", or when the body starts breaking because of rampant consumption and old age, whence such a person is unable to satiate his Egoic needs.

The needs of the body are very few, but the needs of the Ego are unlimited. It generates an endless list of desires and punishes a greedy person when due to above reasons or any other reasons those are not fulfilled. A greedy fellow, totally ignorant about what animates him, chases stuff for whole of his life and then dies still under a mountain of unfulfilled desires.

The hoarding of money brings him fame and respect from fellow greedy men, which positively feeds back his greed. Such people become powerful, acquire tall positions and corrupt everything around them. Once in a position of power, they do not hesitate in performing acts of mass killing, torture, manipulations and wars in order to add new dimensions to their greed. Not only they suffer, they make everyone else suffer.

Drawing a line 

Other than the Ego and ignorance, not having a path or a goal contributes to this mess. The person not knowing what else to do, what to do with this life, falls in traps of Ego very easily. A path can prevent this. But not many are wise enough to take a path. Usually the suffering caused by greed should be enough to make an intelligent person stop and think. When you question - why am I not happy in spite of achieving all the worldly wealth?, you begin to search for a better path. Once you decide on a path, make it the first priority. Now draw a line where you your need for material stuff starts turning into greed. That is the place to stop.

This line may vary from one person to another or can depend on place and times. But it must be decided on the basis of how much material stuff is needed in order to comfortably walk on that path. Less is better. If you find that you need to be a millionaire and own mansions in order to be on a path, there is something wrong with your path.

The line may shift from time to time, but it should never cross into the territory of greed. The signs that you are in greed domain are - you see that most of your time is lost in earning, spending, consuming and hoarding, rather than knowing and freeing yourself. Secondly, you find yourself surrounded by suspicious characters who are always demanding stuff, manipulating you or are licking your feet. You see that none of your friends are wise or are seeking wisdom, you seldom find yourself in the company of masters. You seek more control and power, you start using people. There can be more signs, but in case you find yourself there, its time to recalibrate the line.

It is recommended that you hoard a bit, so that you are sure of surviving comfortably for at least a few years on your hoardings. Now this hoarding is intelligent saving, while still inside the line. This keeps the Ego peaceful and the tendencies of insecurity and fear do not flare up. This obviously frees you from worries of a hand to mouth lifestyle. For a seeker this should be a piece of cake, as his needs are already tiny.

Give it away 

The above was just a recap of preventive measures discussed earlier. Now we encounter the question - what if I have too much and find it a burden? The answer is simple - give it away. An act of giving away your possessions in an unselfish manner which is devoid of doership is donation.

So donating what you don't need and forgetting about it, is donation in simple terms. We immediately see that, giving away stuff that you need for survival and comfort is not donation. It is stupidity. Secondly, if you do not find your possessions a hurdle on your path, then you don't necessarily donate them away.Making one's life uncomfortable knowingly is not wisdom. An uncomfortable life would simply mean a waste of your time and efforts in menial tasks or just suffering.

You will find that giving away stuff you don't need immediately frees you and you feel light. You feel thankful that the stuff is gone for good. If you feel remorse or regret after giving it away, then it was not donation, it was a loss, and you shouldn’t have done that. It shows that you were still attached to the stuff and the stuff is gone but the attachment continues, giving rise to suffering instead of happiness. So the whole point of donation is detachment from worldly things. Merely getting rid of stuff won't bring about the peace, happiness and freedom, one must be totally detached from stuff.

It is not possible to detach by force. The detachment is a result of realization that the stuff is a source of misery and bondage and is actually a hurdle on your path. It is robbing you off of your precious time or is attracting undesirable company - people who stick to you just because you own shiny objects. This realization causes repulsion from objects and detachment happens. Once you are detached, it is only natural to get rid of stuff. You do it simply by throwing it away or giving it away.

This is the essence of donation. Any other act, which outwardly looks like a donation is not donation, it is a pretention at most.

Throw, sell or gift?

What is the difference? In my opinion and experience, they are essentially the same – a donation. You get rid of things that were a burden. One should use his own discretion when deciding about the method to be employed. Throwing is just donating it back to the earth, if you like fancy metaphors. Throw it away, if you think that it would be useless for everyone. Throwing away the stuff which can cause harm to others (e.g. an unreliable car or faulty electrical appliance, that can cause accidents and deaths) is the obvious choice. You still do not know if anyone will pick it up and use it or suffer from it, but its not your doing now.

Gifting it away, which is commonly the accepted meaning of donation, is suitable when you are somewhat aware of the consequences. Or if you think someone really needs that thing which is totally useless for you. It wouldn't be wise to donate a gun for example.

You will soon find that if you are affluent and are also generous, there will be a long queue of needy-greedy people outside your house. This is the drawback of mindlessly gifting the stuff away, unless your life goal demands a long line of people outside your house. You will find that some people stick to you only because you gift aka donate a lot. They are simply using you, even if they are needy, they will eat up your time, which is exactly the consequence you do not want. In such cases selling is recommended.

Unless you wish to profit from selling your excess stuff, it is donation. What you are achieving here is donation without attracting a crowd of beggars. Sell it for a nominal cost, that is almost as good as free. This will ensure that you keep beggars away and the most needy person gets it for next to nothing. This also prevents formation of bonds between donor and receiver. The receiver does not feel any guilt or shame for getting stuff for free and feels no obligation towards the donor. A win-win situation. Secondly, give away as gift, free stuff with the items you sold, which should make the receiver even more happy and you get the peace of mind by not asking any money for useless stuff.

I don't think if a lot of people see selling in the way described above as donating, but remember that the intention matters, not the outward ritual. You sell just to avoid some undesirable consequences that may result from gifting, your aim is not money. Anyhow, if that money is also a burden for you, you can always donate it away in some other fashion. Donating money is not very straight forward as we will see below.

The other person 

Just like in the case of service and forgiving, the other person, the receiver, is not of any importance at all. You are not donating to make someone else’s life better, you donate to make your own life better. It is a selfish act that leads to unselfishness, an action that reduces the Egoic actions. Donation is an expression of detachment, a trick to be more detached, a way to renounce and be free, and last but not the least - a trick to unburden a seeker so that he can pick up speed on his path. Donation happens, you don't do it, and you do not have any control over the consequences your act of donation can result in.

It should be clear that donation if performed with a sense of doership is not really a donation, its an Egoic act. The feeling of detachment is Grace - an attraction towards the Self, a repulsion from ignorance and Egoic actions. If a doer is still present, then its not what it seems. It is either a desire to help others, feel important, fix others or the world, or a monkey-see-monkey-do thing. As we know, the others and the world are in a perfect condition as they are, you don't need to meddle in it with your puny donation thing.

It should be clear by now, why I keep saying that the consequences of your actions, good or bad, including that of donation are totally chaotic. Your wish to do good by donating away your bed is no good if it catches fire next day and consumes your beneficiary. My dark examples continue as usual, but you get the point. In the grand scheme of things, a donation will have zero benefits for others, but will be immensely beneficial for you.

Again, you do not know how the other will react to your donation. Some will perceive you as an easy source of free stuff, some will think you are crazy for simply throwing away your valuables. Some will be puzzled, some will doubt that you have hidden intentions behind the noble act of donation. Some may not accept your donation because you will be burdening them with your burden. Some will become greedy and flock around you for more. Some will think you are trying to get rid of stolen stuff, or are hiding evidence of a crime in their home. Only a wise and evolved person will actually understand your act of donation. Expect such people to be as rare as diamonds in a coal mine.

Worthiness 

However, an intelligent man will use minimum discretion when giving away his stuff for free. We have seen the example of a gun, for example. More importantly, a donor has some choice regarding the recipient. If you have used books from your school or college days, it makes sense to find a talented junior and donate them to him, instead of donating them to a random guy. Agreed that you still don't know if that student will sell it away and buy drugs instead, but if you know the person a bit, you have done your best.

Similarly, you should avoid donating stuff to fairly rich people, find a poor chap. We know how people like to donate to politicians and bureaucrats, but that’s obviously anything but a donation, so avoid such beneficiaries. Avoid relatives and friends, you want to lighten the bonds not enforce them. Avoid donating to teachers and ashrams, unless he is your teacher and its your ashram. Avoid donating food or medicines. Avoid donating to beautiful women. Avoid people who are on their death bed or are too old, find someone who has a meaningful life left. Avoid donating too much to a single person, distribute deliberately. Avoid filthy rich religious organizations, mafias or terrorist agencies. So on and so forth. I don't want to explain everything, it should take you only a second to decide who is not worthy of your donation.

By checking worthiness, you cannot enforce a specific consequence, but you are freed from the responsibility of doing deliberate harm. Lack of doership does not mean total mental retardation. You act wisely, and then relinquish the doership, as simple as that.

Charity

What about the poor and starving people all over the world? What about organizations such as WWF, Red Cross, people who bring clean drinking water to poorest, or the garden variety of non-profit organizations out there? Isn't it nice to donate my excess money to them?

We are crossing from the domain of self-improvement to that of world improvement here. Such donations cease to be a donation, as per the definition here, and become charity. These are the selfless acts for the benefit of others. If that is your goal or wish, then go ahead and contribute to the cause. The will to help others is an Egoic tendency, a tribal behaviour. This tendency kept us alive in ancient days and is still useful, but this is not what a seeker does. There is no imperfection in the world, there is no world out there and if you spend your valuable life fixing an appearance instead of realizing that it is only an appearance, you are no more on the path, and this blog should be useless for you.

So should a seeker not do anything for others deliberately and forcibly? If the charity happens, it happens. Do not go and hunt for opportunities for charities. If you happen to bump into someone who is asking for some help for some random cause, help as much as you can, say goodbye and forget. It should not become your life story, you should not feel you did something great, and you should see it as a universal act, not individual one.

What about all those people who are relentlessly doing charitable acts? Are they idiots? Well, if charity or doing good for others is their path, then its their path. It is all very good. We do need such people. Doing good for others is a good stepping stone towards doing good for oneself. Some do feel the need to do good, they need that experience before they realize how futile it is. Charity begins at home, if you are in a mess, forget about doing good for others, you may end up doing opposite. One should take up that important and noble task only if one has reached a certain level. Take up that path if you must. Everyone must choose a path of his own heart. If charity brings happiness and freedom to you, it is your path. However, be ready for some surprises, some learning experiences.

Anonymity

A pitfall on the path of donations is that some people end up inflating their Ego instead of controlling greed. The Ego enters from the backdoor and crowns you as the greatest donor on the earth. It feels good and you donate more. You send out intentions to donate, you leave your phone number everywhere. Contact me, the great donor, if you need something. People add to the problem by awarding you the titles of greatness - a saviour of poor, great soul, mahatma, the social servant. The result is that you are full of it before you realize you are in a deep pit.

The obvious prevention is to always donate anonymously. Remove the Ego from the act. It must not become an act of you - the identity. Donate and run away, disappear. This will also make you invisible to people who are always looking for a scapegoat to get as much as possible while feeding him with Ego boosting superlatives.

Some people bribe the society in exchange of fame or something like that and call it a donation. The park bench donated by such and such. These are just cheap Egoic acts. Donate and erase your name, make yourself untraceable. This is especially needed if you are donating money. This also releases you from the consequences. You know more or less about where your old bike is going to end up, but you have no idea how the money will be used.

Moonshots

If you are doing extremely good moneywise, and have an excess of money, even after shifting to a minimalist lifestyle and a job that leaves you ample time for practice, and you feel like donating the excess, then you may find moonshots [1] a better option compared to donations.

Moonshots are projects that bring you no material gain, but only turn you into an instrument for expression of the Self. The expression is geared towards more structure and less entropy, more knowledge, freedom and happiness. So one can employ oneself as an assistant of the Self in this world. A moonshot need not be a million dollar project, it can be a small one, like an exploration into altered states of Mind. Depending on how much excess you have, it can be as big as colonization of Mars or invention of a clean energy source. It can be something which requires high intelligence instead of raw hardware, such as development of artificial general intelligence in machines or finding a cure for aging. Obviously, such projects are a sink for money and only a handful of individuals show any interest or capability to carry them out. Fortunately, some rich and intelligent individuals and large corporations do have visions for awesome moonshots.

These projects involve a lot of resources and money. If not money then a lot of intelligence and time, which again translates into some money. These projects provide no short term gains, its all a loss money-wise. There is no guarantee of long term gain too, as these aim too high. There is no hope of seeing a major breakthrough in a reasonable time. Some may not show any results for the whole lifetime and maybe for many generations. So these are ideal candidates to sink your excess income into. This would be the most intelligent kind of donation in my opinion.

Why isn't this act a selfish act? Because it gives you no material benefits and becomes a source of happiness and knowledge. Selfish acts result in misery and ignorance, but provide a short term material gain. Isn't that same as charity? The common people will not be able to benefit from such projects immediately, or not even in a hundred years perhaps. What are the consequences? I can't see many consequences except you become a provider for some people, your employees. The long term consequences are unpredictable, but by definition, these events are most probable naturally and will happen anyway. What will happen after that is anyone’s guess. A pitfall one needs to worry about is that one should not become megalomaniac, and should not let the Ego crown you as a great visionary that is bent on taking whole humanity into the future. Another pitfall is that one can become too involved in such projects and may forget about cultivation totally. These projects should serve as a means to channel your money into an act of nature, should lead to detachment and should arise out of detachment.

Which projects to choose and how will I know that it is the right one? There are already many wild and dreamy projects out there. Search and you will find. Or launch your own. Think as wild and as out of box as you can. Think very long term - hundreds and thousands of years into the future. The right ones have a quality of inevitably. You will know that it will happen sooner or later, because that is where nature is trending towards. New knowledge, new sciences, new ideas, and obviously new discoveries that lead to great technologies and push the whole human race upwards significantly. Not only physical but non-physical also. Obviously, developing a new weapon or worldwide surveillance technologies is not the right choice, even though inevitable. The litmus test for such projects is whether they result in more happiness and freedom for all humanity universally. If not, they are not worthy of donation.

What donation is not 

Here's a list of some acts that people generally mistake for donation.

  • Gifting to relatives or children of your own. You are just ensuring a genetic continuation. An Egoic act.
  • Gifting to a person you love in order to impress that person. Again, procreative tendencies in play.
  • Gifting others with the intention to show how rich you are.
  • Gifting to gain friends or to keep them around. A friend who is there for your gifts is not a friend.
  • Gifting others to show how kind hearted or "spiritual" you are.
  • Selling stuff for next to nothing in order to gain initial customers. Or giving away free stuff with your products.
  • Gifting to high ranking officials to gain favours from them.
  • Donating for election expenses of politicians.
  • Donating for military in the event of wars caused by politicians.
  • Donating to religious places to gain supernatural benefits.
  • Renting your extra property for free. Even for the teachers or social causes or satsangs also. It is charity.
  • Donating in order to gain name and fame.
  • Donating in order to set an example for others. 
  • Donating with your name printed on it in huge letters with a news coverage of your great act. 
  • Donating a tiny percentage of your total worth, even if the tiny percentage amounts to millions. It makes no difference for you at all.
  • Donating away old stuff so that you can make space for shiny new stuff.
  • Donating to educational institutions in order to gain admission into them. This is just bribe. Naming it as donation shouldn’t make it one.
  • Donating for health related causes, such as against cancer etc. Find out why, as a food for thought. 

There can be many more, but you get the idea. If the act does not arise from detachment or a desire to be free from worldly things and does not lead to more detachment or freedom, then it is not donation. Well, its a nice trick, but you see, it appears too complicated, there are so many nuances to be aware of. I'd just let the stuff in my basement rot rather than wasting my time with this donation thing. Yes, you are absolutely correct. The best way is always the simplest, which is, in this case - do not hoard. If you stop the hoarding madness today, the stuff or tons of money you have accumulated will gradually disappear on its own. Let it all go. Soon you will be free from such tendencies as well as the burden of that stuff. Its as easy as that.




Notes:

[1] Urban Dictionary Definition: Moonshot - awesome, fantastic, almost impossible to achieve, the best, the reason for success, reaching the highest point, right on target. Google's definition of a moonshot: A project or proposal that: Addresses a huge problem. Proposes a radical solution. Uses breakthrough technology.

1 comment:

  1. Incredible insights..!! Eye opening thoughts about donation that will be helpful to many. Will consult you about some issues I have in mind about this.

    ReplyDelete