This post is a response to this blog/podcast post:
Thank you for bringing this up, Seth. I wanted to respond at length.
There was a time in my life when I scorned "beggars" as I passed them on the street. Couldn't wait to get as far away from them as fast as I possibly could, hoping that no particle of them would actually come in contact with my person. I, like many, judged these people, muttering inside about their possible alcoholism or other addictive problems that I didn't want to contribute to. And boy, wasn't I superior by just moving on?
Since those times, however, my spiritual practice has evolved quite a bit.
So, to answer your question, my response is: YES. When someone asks, I give.
But let's not look at this by the prism of money. Let us instead look at it from a more spiritual perspective. By passing that homeless person, I was essentially putting my spiritual money in the bank of the cynical and the jaded. The judging and the negative. The superior and the holier than thou.
By GIVING, it opens everything up. It opens ME up. It opens up the person asking. It makes everything right with the universe. It's the right thing to do. It is, then, putting my spiritual money in the bank of the "we are all in this together." The "we only care for each other" on this planet mindset.
Because here's the thing. It's tough to ask someone for money, or for anything. It's a blow to your pride, usually. And if you're in the position where you have to ask, you probably need it. So I no longer judge what they are going to be spending it on. Doesn't matter in the scheme of things. If they are asking, and I'm able to, I give.
Now, mind you, I wouldn't wanna be Oprah, who probably has all kinds of people asking her for all kinds of things. She probably has a team of folks fielding requests.
But my general spiritual principle is that if some person crosses my path, in whatever way: on the street, online, at a social event, whereever, and they ask me for something I'm able to give, I have to give. And usually, I give them exactly what they ask for. If they ask for 50 cents, that's what I give them. If they ask for $20, and I have it, I'll give it. If they are asking for my time, or a service I can provide, I give it.
Bragging about giving isn't why I'm writing this, though. I think it's a really fundamental mindset change that we all need to go through that is being discussed here. So much of the world is a cynical, mistrusting mess. Every single time each one of us chooses to give instead of walk away, I believe the world changes for the better.
We have spent many years being bitter and cynical and mistrusting. Let's all start building back up that reservoir of trust and love and community that this world needs again. What is $5, really, when you think of the spiritual foundation you are actually building with that (seemingly inconsequential) action? As the ad says; Priceless.
For me, the more I give, the more I feel connected to my community and to the world at large. And the more material wealth I attain, the more essential it is to give large parts of it away. I do believe with that one simple gesure, the flow begins. Money flows, spirit flows, love flows.
Maybe you were only seeing the joy in the man's face. For me, that is where my joy lives too. Let me give, freely, without any thought of reciprocation. That opens up great gushers of kindness inside me.
So many people are hurting right now, barely able to get by. Yes. If they ask you for it, GIVE. It's the right thing to do. Always.