Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Florida, USA, December 25, 2002 (Originally in Chinese)
We should try our best to help others as much as we can. However, this doesn't mean that we have to go out and help a certain number of people every day. We should do it in a natural way, spreading our love very naturally. For example, sometimes I see street people or destitute people and I immediately give them what they need. (Fellow initiate: But there seem to be too many people who need help and there's no end to it.) Just do it naturally when you see people in need; do it when you can; if you can't do it immediately, then wait until the next time! You don't have to force yourself.
Helping others is a great honor and pleasure rather than a job or responsibility. If you feel obliged, then don't do it; offer your help only if it makes you happy and joyful for it is your honor! It's truly a great joy to give; it's truly very comfortable to help!
For example, the day before yesterday, I was planning to get a sofa for my dogs. The sofas in the shops were too big for my small house, and I thought there would be no room for them. The dogs have their own beds, but they wander around outside during the day. Sometimes when they're tired, they don't have a place to sit, so they usually sit on the sofa at home (Master laughs). That's why I decided to buy one for them.
I went into a shop, but before I could find the sofa section, I saw two sad little children pleading with their mother, "Please, please! We want to have it today." I overheard their conversation, and it seemed that the mother wanted to buy a double-decker bed for the children. But they would soon be moving, and if they made the purchase that day, they would have to pay transportation charges again when they moved. Besides, the bed would have to be dismantled and then reassembled. Thus the mother had reservations about buying the bed for it would incur additional costs.
"Can I pay the transportation charges for their move?" I asked the manager. "I can pay you now, and you can help them move when the time comes." The two children were delighted to hear this! They asked for my address, phone number, name, etc. (Master and audience laugh). But I said, "No, no! Sorry, I'm very busy! This is a gift for you. I just want you to be happy. Don't ask any more." Then I ran away.
I was very happy in my heart to see the children's eyes sparkle with joy, as they said, "Oh! Is it true? Thank you! Thank you! You're Santa Claus, aren't you?" (Master and audience laugh; audience applauds.) Then the smaller one said to his mother, "Mama, Santa Claus does exist!" If they had not made the purchase that day, they would not have been able to sleep in the new bed on Christmas, and would have had to wait until after they moved the following year. The bed had captured my heart as well (Audience laughs). The design and colors were just right for kids; it was very bright, but not the disorderly or gaudy kind. It had a cozy blend of two or three colors. I thought the children had very good taste, but the mother might have been reluctant to spend the extra fifty dollars, thinking it might be a waste of money. For them, that might not have been a small sum.
Then the manager of the shop asked me, "Do you know that it will cost fifty dollars?" I said, "That's all right! It'll be worthwhile if it can make the kids happy." I gave him a hundred dollars and said, "In case fifty dollars is not enough, you can cover the expenses with the other fifty. Please make sure that the children get the bed today. Christmas is coming and it's important to make children happy. I love children; can I entrust this job to you, please?" He said, "Sure, no problem!" Then I quickly slipped away. Originally I had intended to buy a sofa for my dogs, but under the circumstances I dared not stay (Master and audience laugh), and left without looking for it."
The children kept coming around to ask for information such as my phone number, saying that they would like to send a thank-you card, etc. But I said, "No, no! It's really not necessary." If we allow people to send thank-you cards each time, our mailbox will be too small! (Master laughs.) I slipped away as soon as I gave the money, feeling very happy. The children's happiness was infectious.
When we were little, we'd feel terrific if we could have something we liked right away! If we had to wait a couple of months for it, who knows what changes could have occured during that period of time, right? (Audience: Yes.) And it was Christmastime, too! Their mother didn't say she wouldn't buy the bed; she already loved her children very much. It was just that I felt they didn't seem to be very well off. That was why when I offered to pay for the transportation, they were amazed beyond speech. I simply said, "I love children; besides, it's Christmastime." So, they thanked me repeatedly, and I replied, "No, no! It's I who should thank you because you gave me this opportunity to make myself very happy." It was truly so.
Therefore, when we have an opportunity to help others, we should thank those at the receiving end. I was truly grateful to them for giving me the chance to help the two children and make them happy. Some people are skeptical about your intentions and don't accept help readily. Besides, the manager was very cooperative. It was like everyone supported the idea, making me feel very easy and comfortable.
Thus, helping others is not a responsibility, but a great honor that brings you immense joy. I was very happy that entire day. (Master laughs.) (Disciple: But the mere thought of so many people needing help makes me tired.) No, it doesn't have to. Where do you see so many people in need? You help when you see someone in need. We can't help the whole world, and even if we did, there are still beings in hell, and then there are animals! Just do whatever is necessary at present, and it's all right to do one thing at a time. You don't have to think that you'll have to do ten things. If you find someone who needs help today, and if you're capable, just help; if not, then just be supportive in your mind.
Like in the example I gave just now, we could also have told the mother, "Oh! This is really a nice bed so do whatever you can to give it to the kids!" This is fine, too; we don't have to offer money. If we have a supportive heart, making them happy and giving them encouragement, that's also good. If they had failed to buy it that day, it would have also been all right. You could tell the children, "Never mind! One month is very short and passes very quickly, and then you'll have it." You can try to encourage people and you should really want to do it. You don't have to force yourself to interfere in any situation, no, no! Do it naturally. God incidentally gave me the opportunity that day so I felt very smooth doing it, very happy inside. I was really very happy to help! If in case I couldn't help at that time, I would feel very sorry. Because the thought of the two kids going home empty-handed and unable to get the bed until a month later would have made me feel very uncomfortable at heart. So I was delighted to be able to do it then!
That's why I tell you that helping others isn't a responsibility but something that brings happiness and comfort. I often do it, and I often feel happy. (Master laughs.) Happiness doesn't come only that first time or the second or third time. I feel happy every time I help others. Of course, there are different kinds of happiness each time. To be able to help truly needy people, oh! I feel so comfortable, so contented! Perhaps sometimes we may suspect whether those people really need help or not, but if they ask, I give. We shouldn't suspect that they're lying. Even if they're lying, that's their business, and I still help them. At that time I may not feel very happy. However, it's better than withholding help skeptically. Because after I get home I may think, "Ah! I should have helped them at that time."
Sometimes we might pass by street people, but we have already driven past them, so we have to drive a long distance before we can turn back. And I feel happy only after I've helped them. If I just drive past without turning back to help them, I surely feel uncomfortable after I get home, feeling that I failed to take an extra step to help people. So I don't know why it's so hard for some people to help others. You don't understand, really don't understand! When you give more, you'll know how happy you are. The more you give, the more joyful you feel, believe me! (Master laughs.) You don't have to give a lot. Give as much as you can, but you don't have to give away all your property leaving nothing for yourself and your family. No, no! We should also take care of our family. Then, if we're still in a position to help others, we should try to help, and then we'll feel very happy.
When we give help to people in need, we feel very comfortable in our hearts, just as though we're receiving help; we feel an empathy with those people. The reason is very simple. If you were the one in need, and suddenly someone came to help you, wouldn't you feel great? (Audience: Yes!) You'll know it if you think this way. It's not necessary to have magical power to know it. The happiness of that person becomes your happiness because you clearly understand what he feels, like knowing how hungry people feel when they get food.
Likewise, when I help others, it's as if I become that person; that's why I feel so happy. Whomever I give to, that person seems to become me so he and I both feel very happy. However, I'm happier than he is because I not only feel his happiness, but I also know that I've brought him happiness. The two together make me happier than he is. That's why we say, "The giver is happier than the receiver."
Therefore, if you don't give or help others, it's really a great pity! Such a pity! You miss those happy opportunities. I'm not forcing you to give alms. I'm only telling you that it's is an opportunity to have happiness and joy. Karma or no karma, we can talk later! Never mind karma when you give. Only think of those in need, without thinking about yourself, and only then will you be happy. If at that time you're still thinking about karma, feeling afraid while giving, then don't give because you won't be happy at that time. When you give, you should completely disregard the consequences. Only then will you feel happy.