Giving to beggars

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Stephen K
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Giving to beggars

Postby Stephen K » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:05 pm

I plan on moving to Manchester, UK, perhaps later this year. I've been there twice, and I saw many beggars on the streets. I gave some change to some of them, to others not.

But the Buddha said "When asked, give even if you only have a little" (Dhp. 224).

Since at first I will be using my mother's money until I find a job there, I am not sure whether giving to all beggars will be the right thing to do - it would be a major drainage of money that really is not my own.


So, should I always give to every beggar, or just to some, or to no one?
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby culaavuso » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:46 pm

Some points to consider are whether the money is yours to give, whether it's a good place to give a gift, and whether the gift is given with a good state of mind.

If the money isn't yours to give then it seems to be a form of taking what is not given, which would mean violating the second precept.

Regarding where gifts should be given and where they bear fruit, see SN 3.24: Issattha Sutta

Regarding motivations for giving, see AN 7.49: Dana Sutta

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Stephen K
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Stephen K » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:49 pm

Thank you, culaavuso! Problem solved. :smile:
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby santa100 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:08 pm

Stephen K wrote:But the Buddha said "When asked, give even if you only have a little" (Dhp. 224).


Also see here for the full context of Verse 224..

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Stephen K
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Stephen K » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:14 pm

santa100 wrote:
Stephen K wrote:But the Buddha said "When asked, give even if you only have a little" (Dhp. 224).


Also see here for the full context of Verse 224..

Thanks.
With metta,
Upāsaka Sumana

Digity
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Digity » Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:03 am

A lot of people begging on the street have drug and alcohol problems. Might be better to give some food, etc. because that money might otherwise go to support their substance abuse.
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manas
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby manas » Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:59 am

Stephen K wrote:I plan on moving to Manchester, UK, perhaps later this year. I've been there twice, and I saw many beggars on the streets. I gave some change to some of them, to others not.

But the Buddha said "When asked, give even if you only have a little" (Dhp. 224).

Since at first I will be using my mother's money until I find a job there, I am not sure whether giving to all beggars will be the right thing to do - it would be a major drainage of money that really is not my own.


So, should I always give to every beggar, or just to some, or to no one?


Hi Stephen

if you are in a rich, industrialized country, in which no one really need starve as there are always charities to provide food for survival - a charity worker once told me, that the money will most likely go towards drugs, so that the unfortunate person can forget their troubles for a while. Which in itself is not as unpalatable as the fact that the money ends up in the hands of a drug dealer. If in a poor country, however, where there is a real risk that some simply cannot get enough food to eat, I would give what I could, even if only a little.

kind regards,
manas.
:anjali:

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:01 am

I don't think that can refer to America, Manas, people are starving and there is not enough charity here, you can often get a gauge of who are the druggies and who are genuinely in need, and I sort of adopt certain homeless people and support for a few rather than all, when you hear their stories, you'll find that while some drink, they're not all drug addicts, and often quite intelligent, my one friend just went through throat cancer, and radiation treatment, and the accompanying sickness, I'm so glad to see him doing better now, I look forward to our visits at the coffee shop I go to. Your friend at work is almost just as likely to be using alcohol as some homeless person, and they don't all drink to be stinking drunk, etc.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby manas » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:55 am

lyndon taylor wrote:I don't think that can refer to America, Manas, people are starving and there is not enough charity here, you can often get a gauge of who are the druggies and who are genuinely in need, and I sort of adopt certain homeless people and support for a few rather than all, when you hear their stories, you'll find that while some drink, they're not all drug addicts, and often quite intelligent, my one friend just went through throat cancer, and radiation treatment, and the accompanying sickness, I'm so glad to see him doing better now, I look forward to our visits at the coffee shop I go to. Your friend at work is almost just as likely to be using alcohol as some homeless person, and they don't all drink to be stinking drunk, etc.


You make a good point...I forgot that despite America being a wealthy country, that there is not any system of welfare that compares to that in my own country (Australia) so yes, I will agree with you that one ought to just use one's discretion in each individual case.

kind regards
manas.
Last edited by manas on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:09 am

In my town there are two providers, one the Salvation Army, both offering one hot meal in the evening, once a day, usually not on weekends, and for whatever reasons most of the homeless people don't like going to them, perhaps because they aggressively ban intoxicated and loud persons. Also we do have foodstamps, but they are usually only available to people who have addresses and the patience to fill out a lot of paperwork, AND do community service at very low hourly wage equivalent to food stamp value they get. Don't get me started on this wonderful "wealthy" America.....
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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manas
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby manas » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:23 am

lyndon taylor wrote:In my town there are two providers, one the Salvation Army, both offering one hot meal in the evening, once a day, usually not on weekends, and for whatever reasons most of the homeless people don't like going to them, perhaps because they aggressively ban intoxicated and loud persons. Also we do have foodstamps, but they are usually only available to people who have addresses and the patience to fill out a lot of paperwork, AND do community service at very low hourly wage equivalent to food stamp value they get. Don't get me started on this wonderful "wealthy" America.....


In Melbourne city things are quite good in that regard, just one example: you can eat for free at the Hare Krishna temple three times a day, 365 days a year if you need to...they are always feeding people. If you do it for long enough they might ask if you would like to help sweep the eating hall floor or something (not a bad thing in any case, I swept and mopped it many times in my younger days and actually enjoyed it) but even if you refuse they will still feed you anyway.

:anjali:

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Dan74 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:41 am

Gents, Stephen was talking about the UK, or has the conversation moved on already?
_/|\_

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:57 am

Given the title of the thread, I didn't know the conversation had to be restricted to the OPs country!! Homelessness is a pretty universal problem, but as we have pointed out, not all countries are the same......
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby manas » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:03 am

Dan74 wrote:Gents, Stephen was talking about the UK, or has the conversation moved on already?


Well Dan, our PM seems to think Australia is still part of the UK... :lol: while he is into ending 'entitlements' (for the poor in any case) he is bringing back titles...so get ready for Sir Rupert and Dame Gina (to be rewarded for their services to the oligarchy...)

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Dan74 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:51 pm

A timely recognition of two wonderful Australians, I say!

It will also come in handy for Dame Gina as I hear the wedding bells are ringing for her at last. At last she found a match for herself, both in stature and personality. A man with a title already, with interest in mining and a keen concern for governance.

Here's a sneaky pic at the beautiful couple:

baron copy.jpg
baron copy.jpg (247.86 KiB) Viewed 596 times
_/|\_

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Aloka » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:11 am

Stephen K wrote:I plan on moving to Manchester, UK, perhaps later this year. I've been there twice, and I saw many beggars on the streets. I gave some change to some of them, to others not.

But the Buddha said "When asked, give even if you only have a little" (Dhp. 224).

Since at first I will be using my mother's money until I find a job there, I am not sure whether giving to all beggars will be the right thing to do - it would be a major drainage of money that really is not my own.


So, should I always give to every beggar, or just to some, or to no one?


Hi Stephen,

Some of the beggars here in the UK aren't always genuine. Here's an example:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/facing-jail-professional-beggar-who-fleeced-the-public-but-lived-in-300000-house-8704984.html

A very poor looking woman with no teeth used to ask people for money outside a supermarket in my area. One day I saw her with false teeth, cosmetics, and clean new clothes sitting laughing on a bus with a friend ! ...then the next day she was toothless outside a supermarket asking for money again.

There can also be people who are funding their alcohol or drug addiction.

If someone is sitting next to a notice with "Cold and hungry" on it, then I'll buy a sandwich and a hot drink and give that to them.

I don't give cash to people in city streets since the time I narrowly missed being mugged by a group of foreign men who gathered around me at a cash machine & told me I'd dropped some money (which I hadn't) as I was about to get a card from my purse.

I think its probably better to give a donation to a charity organisation/soup kitchen for the homeless.

With kind regards,

Aloka

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Doshin » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:38 pm

Aloka wrote:Some of the beggars here in the UK aren't always genuine. Here's an example:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/facing-jail-professional-beggar-who-fleeced-the-public-but-lived-in-300000-house-8704984.html

A very poor looking woman with no teeth used to ask people for money outside a supermarket in my area. One day I saw her with false teeth, cosmetics, and clean new clothes sitting laughing on a bus with a friend ! ...then the next day she was toothless outside a supermarket asking for money again.


There will always be people around, that is not honest. If you search for such examples, that is all you will find. If I'm in a position, considering to give to one of the persons, from your two examples, I would include your facts in my consideration.

I'm convinced that begging, is *very* humiliating, and if people do that there is a very good reason for it, regardless of how we view/judge they situation.

Aloka wrote:There can also be people who are funding their alcohol or drug addiction.

If someone is sitting next to a notice with "Cold and hungry" on it, then I'll buy a sandwich and a hot drink and give that to them.


To me it sounds like you have a tough time, letting go of your money(/donation), after you have given it to somebody else ?

Is giving with restrictions/conditions, really generosity ?

What would be the difference of a drug/alcohol-addict, that gets money and
- use on drug/alcohol and then have money left for food/shelter/medicine
or if that person
- gets food/shelter/medicine, and then have more money for drug/alcohol
I don't see the difference, and in both cases giving, would be beneficial (however little). At the very least, it shows the person begging, that there are good people around, and that might at some time inspire them.

Aloka wrote: I don't give cash to people in city streets since the time I narrowly missed being mugged by a group of foreign men who gathered around me at a cash machine & told me I'd dropped some money (which I hadn't) as I was about to get a card from my purse.

I think its probably better to give a donation to a charity organisation/soup kitchen for the homeless.


I'm truly sorry to read about your episode. And I see that you have found your way of practising generosity, and I'm sure you give with your best intentions.

_/\_
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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Aloka » Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:47 pm

Doshin wrote:To me it sounds like you have a tough time, letting go of your money(/donation), after you have given it to somebody else ?


To me it sounds like you've decided to judge my motivation without even knowing me.

Is giving with restrictions/conditions, really generosity ?


Since when did I say I was giving with restrictions/conditions ?

This thread was started by Stephen K asking about beggars in the UK - and I was simply presenting some facts as I've experienced them (and I'm a person who isn't wealthy). I'm not looking for an argument with anyone, thanks.

.

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Ananda26 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:59 pm

Stephen K wrote:I plan on moving to Manchester, UK, perhaps later this year. I've been there twice, and I saw many beggars on the streets. I gave some change to some of them, to others not.

But the Buddha said "When asked, give even if you only have a little" (Dhp. 224).

Since at first I will be using my mother's money until I find a job there, I am not sure whether giving to all beggars will be the right thing to do - it would be a major drainage of money that really is not my own.


So, should I always give to every beggar, or just to some, or to no one?


In Numerical Discourses of the Buddha there is a discourse which uses the simile of the goldsmith with a scale and he knows by so much it has dipped down, by so much it has tipped up. Similarly a person keeps track of his money situation.

In Long Discourse #31 Buddha advises with one's riches one part he may enjoy at will, 2 parts he should put to work, 1 part he should set aside as reserve in times of need.

Personally I have some time in my life when people asked for money I let them do some work for me like cleaning and then paid them. That seemed to work with my budget and maintained an opportunity to earn money.

In the United States we have coins and paper money. The coins include pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters which I can keep in mind with budgeting.

Sometimes I would buy vegetables or fruits. There was a shrine there at one place I stayed and I would buy enough to give or offer every person who seemed to need it some food. They seemed to especially like me doing something for everyone in need.

I keep tithing in mind with my budget.

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Re: Giving to beggars

Postby Doshin » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:18 am

Aloka wrote:
Doshin wrote:To me it sounds like you have a tough time, letting go of your money(/donation), after you have given it to somebody else ?


To me it sounds like you've decided to judge my motivation without even knowing me.


Yes, I admit it could seem like that, when quoted without the context, I commented on. Yes I do not know you, hence I only comment on what you decide to write in your posts (my "sounds like..." referred to what I quoted, not to you as a person).

Aloka wrote:
Is giving with restrictions/conditions, really generosity ?


Since when did I say I was giving with restrictions/conditions ?


You wrote some examples where, as I read it, more or less the recipient did not meet some conditions (not poor enough to be entitled to donation when begging). I did read that as restrictions on when to give to beggar(s). Or enforcing that donation went to food, when begging for food (i.e. enforcing a condition, that the donation went to food).

If I in any way did offend you, I'm sincerely sorry. I only tried to pick up a subject, that was triggered by what you wrote in your post.

_/\_
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