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Help the needy. But who are the needy?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Harry Haller, Sep 5, 2011.

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  1. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Gurfatehji,

    Although there are several discussions currently being debated on kesh and thoughts, I wanted to touch on something else, namely seva.

    To whom exactly should we be making seva to? everyone? those in apparent need?

    My father sent me this over the weekend, I read it with interest

    A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

    So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
    The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings.
    The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
    Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings. It never was able to fly.
    What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
    Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives.

    If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us.

    We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly!


    So not only do we need to do seva but it needs to be the right kind of seva, the seva that frees and educates, rather than imprisons and encourages dependency, but its hard sometimes to know what to do.........
     
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  3. Ishna

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    Re: Help the needy, but who are the needy?

    Awesome snippet, please thank your father for it, bhaji.

    And I think you answered your own question at the end.

    I was watching TV last night (again...) and I saw a program about people in Venezuala, how their President in 2008 was trying to encourage the people to invade the land owned by the handful of landlords and occupy it forcefully so they could start growing their own food and help the local economy. The host visited one of the co-ops and in 5 years their main concern was thrashing out the bushes diving their co-op from the one next door -- they grew pretty much nothing of their own. Their reason was they couldn't get loans for agricultural tools, etc, because they did not legally own the land!

    An example of trying to help but not doing a real good job of it...

    Here's a summary of the series: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/this_world/6321203.stm You might be able to find snippets of it on Youtube, etc, if interested.

    And it's like, giving money to homeless people - they're likely to spend it on cigarettes and booze. Or like our government here, paying people thousands of dollars for making babies -- you end up with a bunch of single-mum families with a bunch of ramshackle kids who are clearly not loved, while mum and (sometimes) dad (if he's around) are occupied smoking pot or watching their plasma televisions...

    Then you get some of these charities which claim they'll help needy people but they pocket the donations for themselves and don't do anything for their clients...

    You're very right, it's hard to know what to do!

    Ishna
     
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  4. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Re: Help the needy, but who are the needy?

    Bhenji

    I think it goes further than that, I have in the past, change a tyre for a gentleman in a mercedes who had no idea what to do , at the time, I thought I was doing good, seeing Waheguru in this gentleman, but by the look on his face when I had finished, I felt I was being used.

    A few months ago, a chap stopped me in the street, begging for bus fare, as he was ill, etc etc, so I said, forget the bus, I will give you a lift, but he did not want to know, said he hardly knew me, i said, you know me well enough to ask for money, and then he walked off, yesterday, the same man walked into my shop, and gave me the same story, when I remarked that he had already given me this story, he left in a hurry, I have also in the last few weeks come across a customer who is extremely needy, and the more I help, the more needy the customer gets, and I quite agree with you about organised charity, the amount of times I have been stopped by someone trying to get me to donate a few pounds a month, and when I have asked 'how much do you earn', some of the earn more than me!

    I do not like to judge people, but this is different, this is seeing people for what they are, not what they pretend to be, Guru gives us knowledge, and the tools to differentiate, I think the Guru expects us to hone these skills, so as not to waste time helping those who could well help themselves, or those who see others help as a way of life, both huge wastes of time, energy and resources.

    Personally, I think seva should be of physical type, listening, doing, making a tangible difference, not just appeasing ones own guilt, for as many fraudsters that pretend to be Babas, there seems to be just as many pretending to be needy!
     
  5. Ishna

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    Re: Help the needy, but who are the needy?

    Yikes. That's gotta hurt.

    You say seva should be of the physical type -- like changing a tyre (for the Merc-jerk)?

    Or joining a co-op like they have at a nearby church here -- they help less fortunate with gardening, new families with landscaping, small families with moving house, etc.

    Or like cooking/serving langar to people 99% of whom in the West earn enough to pay for their langar and for someone to bring it to them?

    Is it better to donate your time to hands-on helping those who can't help themselves, like the physically challenged? Even they can develop complexes and abuse the system! (or worse yet, their carers!)

    It seems no matter where you turn you can't serve the truly needy?

    But then, by helping the Merc-jerk, and him regarding you with contempt, are you really losing anything? It is his loss that he is so manmukh... it is your gain to do a good deed?

    That is bittersweet though... like when you let someone into traffic and they don't even wave... gee that makes you kick yourself for being kind!

    Then you get the ones who give you a wave in the mirror AND stick their hand out the window! They make you smile.

    So you win some and you lose some, should it make you stop helping entirely?
     
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  6. Archived_Member16

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    Re: Help the needy, but who are the needy?

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Breakfast at McDonalds

    I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology.

    The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’ The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally.

    Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son.

    We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.I did not move an inch…. an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved.

    As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men.As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling’. His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching.

    The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them.

    The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).

    Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action.

    I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray.I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’

    I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you.. God is here working through me to give you hope.’

    I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope..’. We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.

    We are not church goers, but we are believers… That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love.

    I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it.Then she looked up at me and said, ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class.

    She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student.

    I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn : Unconditional Acceptance.

    Much love and compassion is sent to each and every person who may read this and learn how to……

    LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS – NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE


    - an enlightened soul
     
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  7. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Re: Help the needy, but who are the needy?

    Souljyotji,

    This is an example of how easy it is to spot the needy, the ability to help, and know that your helping is making a difference, not just making life 'a bit easier', I would put this in fact, as an extreme example of worthwhile helping in that it is so obvious this is a good cause, there is no doubt what the right thing to do is, the trouble is, the situations we find ourselves in every day require thought, perception, thinking outside of the box, the question is, how do you sort the chaff from the wheat, most times, I do not know whether I am being stung, used or just being careful, I am sure that the Gurus did not advocate wholesale helping to all and sundry, just the worthy, the question is how do you know who is worthy?
     
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  8. Scarlet Pimpernel

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    Veer Ji, good question I once saw a lady and her blind husband walk into a wedding reception, l saw her looking around for a while as all the older ladies like to sit together and the men on other tables so I offered to look after him, she said something nice to me and left.Then the first thing he asked for was for me to get a beer ,then another ,then another and then finally he said can you take me to the toilet.
    (I did not hold it if that's what you are thinking)See you do one good thing and you get ****** on!
     
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  9. Harry Haller

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    Veerji

    Again, I know some blind people that make it their mission to be as independent as possible, is such mollycoddling holding some people back?
     
  10. Archived_Member16

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    A WORD TO THE WISE: Never judge all by the actions of a few, so:

    "People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
    If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
    If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
    The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
    Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
    For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

    — Mother Teresa
     
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  11. Harry Haller

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    Soul jyotji,

    Many thanks for your kind reply, although I am tempted to think you are in fact some sort of super computer, as I do not recall ever seeing your own opinion expressed in your own words!!

    Your reply mirrors my own thoughts upto recently, which is that if you help 10 people, and 9 of them are frauds, then at least you have helped one person, also Mother Teresa was, I believe, quite good in helping people in a manner that did not reflect the way in which they wanted to be helped.

    This does not, as far as I can see, assist in anyway in trying to figure out who is worthy of being helped, in fact, the above comment seems to imply that we should help all, and in every way, and leave the rest to god, although as honorable as it sounds, it is not realistic when balanced with the need for a family and personal life that the Gurus also advocated, again, I think this is an extreme view, and not the balance that we should be seeking
     
  12. Ambarsaria

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    Brother Harry Haller ji wonderful thread.

    Let us see some visuals and slowly we will develop towards an understanding together,

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Identifying the needy and helping the needy are not simple tasks. These require a mental effort, a sensual input and continuous learning to hone one's abilities to help.

    Your eyes should glisten, your heart should palpitate, your body will like to give part of it to the recipient, as some of the sensations you should get when trying to identify the needy.

    As you hone your skills you would have positive vibes having helped, no second thoughts having helped, a regret that you could not do more, and a life time of memories.

    We will jointly work on this but some initial thoughts.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  13. Harry Haller

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    I think I may have pinpointed a common feeling when I am helping or doing something that I feel worthwhile, namely I can feel the pain of the other party. I don't wish to feel this, but I cannot help it. I know my wife feels the same, especially for animals, as they cannot speak, I am not sure what this is called, being sensitive to anothers pain, but I suppose it is a major issue in not just being able to close my eyes and do what I wish to do.

    For instance, today has been one of those days, I have felt the pain of some of my customers, and in trying to do something about it, I am still here and will probably be here close to midnight. I do not want to be here, although I am quite content being here, I just cannot cope with letting the polish family down upstairs, who need their laptop to find jobs, or the lady who is recovering from a major operation and needs her PC, or even the chap who has just been released from prison, they all touched me, and their pain became mine. If I do not assist each person the utmost of my abilities, I will not sleep tonight, I will toss and turn. I feel my wifes pain hugely, especially when her mother died, it almost drove me mad, our animals, my stepson, but the two people whose pain I cannot feel are my parents, I suppose I view them as gods, as superhumans, who shrug off everything, but in the bottom of my heart, I know that one day, they will need me, and my brother, and there is a voice in my head advising me to prepare myself for that day, as when it comes, I will have to do for the both of them, what they have done for me, my brother, my wife, my stepson, I am mentally unprepared for this, the thought of either of them being in the sort of pain that can touch me is alien to my thinking, .

    So, the answer to my own question, when you can feel someone elses pain, you know you should help them,

    I would like to add that I am no hero, in fact many is the time I have wished I could be more hardened and not have these feelings, it amazes me how hard some people are, how can the chap in the photo above just walk by the young boy on the floor? but then I am dreading taking my wife to India for a similar reason, I worry that she will take a stand on the poverty in Punjab, and start loudly asking questions as to how people can live in so much luxury whilst not ten yards away people are living in abject poverty, I worry that she will start bringing stray dogs home, or worse stray people, all this is completely normal to her, she does not realise that in India, people have lost the sensitivity of such thought and have been immune to such images right in front of them, sometimes I envy them..
     
  14. findingmyway

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    Harry ji,
    I think this is an issue that plagues all of us sometimes! I would like to take the liberty to share my thoughts and experiences as seva is the only thing that keeps me grounded and gives me a feeling of self worth.

    I don't like the word needy. It implies inferiority and helplessness and I think that's quite derogatory. It is worth remembering if the accident of our birth had been different we could also have been in that situation. Need also can apply to anyone. Like your Merc man, my friend and I had help changing a tyre on a hire car from a kind passerby. We were not 'needy' nor typical of the kind of person you associate with wanting to help but we were incredibly grateful for the help as it saved us so much time. The number of times I've been lost (and evidently looked it!) and a kind stranger has stopped to help without being asked is wonderful. Those random acts of kindness always remain with me.

    Let's not judge people by their condition but as individuals! Just like the general population, people with sight problems or hearing problems or any other issues cover the whole range of personalities. One aspect of my job is working with people with sight impairments. Some become despondent but others are incredibly resilient. Some are grateful for help but others are resentful so read body language to work out how much help should be offered. Do it in good faith and don't expect for the other person to fall over in a fit of thanks otherwise its not really seva is it?!


    This is very important. I participated in some eye camps in Malawi, Africa a few years ago. The older members of the group were from more upper class backgrounds and were inclined to giving money everywhere. Two of us had more experience of varied social settings and we became very frustrated at their attitude. Malawi is one of the poorest nations in the world. Everywhere we went there were signs indicating the European Union had sponsored this road and that settlement etc. This led to a culture of take and expect to return nothing. Adults and children would come to us demanding money and goods as if it was their right because we were from abroad and therefore 'wealthy' by default. The hospitals in which we worked did not use us as a learning experience but purely as money making scheme (we were expected to pay a 'room charge' even though we had been invited and were providing free services to thousands of people daily each day-each of us had taken time off work and paid to be there). We treated our local driver really well-he ate with us, stayed in the same places, was paid 1 years worth of local wages for 2 weeks work and yet still stole from us. Of course not everyone was like this but it was a huge contrast to my experiences in the Peruvain Amazon villages where we worked alongside locals and became part of the community and were able to share knowledge. That was very much give and take with a longterm aim to become less reliant on foreign aid. The most amazing person I met in Malawi was a Zimbabwean woman who had owned a little hotel on the shores of Lake Malawi for 20 years. All the profits were spent on the local community but in a very constructive way. Many of the local village attitudes are detrimental to moving forwards (eg jealousy so no entrepreneurship was tolerated) and she had been working hard to slowly re-educate people. From simple things like teaching people to dry mango when they have too many in summer rather than eating them all and making themself ill, and this way providing extra income, to more ambitious projects relating to housing. People in desperate need such as orphans were provided for by her but the recipients contributed to the building so that there was less jealousy in the village and the benefactors appreciated it more. This is the kind of work thats needed-not just money but working at ground level WITH the people and not just providing for them.

    Another anecdote is from work I did locally in the UK. For about 2 years I went to a social club for adults with learning difficulties once a week. We were there to do whatever they wanted and I always came home happier than when I went. The seva was not just about giving and feeling good about myself but the people I worked with gave me so so much. I often felt that I was the one receiving the seva!! The lady in Souljyot ji's Macdonalds story received a sense of connection which is rare in the modern world and is incredibly important for mental health. Who benefitted the most? Who was the most needy spiritually and physically (prob not the same person for the 2 things). I'm not sure that is easy to answer!!!

    When deciding which seva is good, a bit of common sense and a lot of observation/listening are required. I will happily share food with the homeless and buy the BIG issue but I won't give money for fear of drug use. I like charities that use volunteers and aim for integration rather than encouraging labels. These are my personal views only from my experiences.
     
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  15. Scarlet Pimpernel

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    Way Ji I guess taking an old blind guy to the toilet once in my life was not much of a seva, atleast compared to saving the blind in Africa but I did give him a lift home if that counts for anything!
     
  16. findingmyway

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    Everything counts if done with the right attitude!! More seva has been done for me than I have ever done for others cheerleader
     
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  17. Annie

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    I wonder if it is still seva if it is done with the "wrong" attitude? Sometimes I want to help, but other times I just feel obligated to help.

    I got off the bus with several other people a while back. There was a man lying in the road next to a spilled can of beer. I thought he must be drunk; but even if he was, he needed to be gotten out of the road or he could be run over by a car. I watched as everyone walked past and ignored him.
    "Isn't anyone going to help him? Anybody? Sigh... I guess it's me. Why is it always me?"
    So I kicked him (gently) until he woke up. It turns out he was not drunk. Someone had hit him in the head with a full can of beer, so hard that the beer can broke open. Ouch.
     
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  18. Ishna

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    I was driving from work to the store to pick up some stuff for my office. On the way there I drove past a man sitting on the ground with his back against a portable fence and his head between his knees. He looked homeless and was two buildings down from the bottle-o.

    On my way back from the store an ambulance was there and two paramedics were working on him! He may have just been walking down the street and felt sick or something and but himself next to the fence to rest.

    ---

    One time my boss (who is allergic to practically everything) went to a nearby doctor's surgery with a puffy tongue and couldn't speak properly, the staff on the desk thought he just had a disability and were trying to find out who is carer was! He just needed a shot of antihistamine before his throat closed up! (which he got once writing it down for them)

    ---

    They often put community service ads on TV (I would know, I watch a lot, hahaha) which say to be careful when people are asking for help and you think they're drunk, they may be having a stroke!
     
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