Friday, February 19, 2010

Why do charitable works?

You see a man on the street.  He’s asking for change.  What do you do?


There’s many reasons to perform kind acts towards others.  Depending on the person you ask, you’ll get a laundry list of reasons.  Perhaps it’s because it makes you feel good, perhaps because you think it’ll help someone, perhaps because it’ll set a good example.


I believe all of these perspectives have merit, and would add one to the list: because I need to change.  I would like to be more connected to my fellow man, feel deeply and be able to serve compassionately no matter what the situation demands.  I’m not there, or even close.  By serving others, or even cultivating the intention to serve, I am systematically rewiring my brain to think in a different way.


After repeatedly building a behavioral habit to perform acts of giving rather than seeking to receive, there are plenty of examples of folks that no longer see the world as I do.  They help deeply, with compassion, almost by reflex.  Not only that, but their service ripples out, with many more impacted.


Where does it start?  I think it starts on the street with the man asking for change.  If you’re looking for the right answer externally, I can’t give you one.  But I do know, that if I look into the eyes of that person, even for a split-second, and cultivate an intention to be of service to him/her, it’s a step along the path to compassion and deep connection.

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