"Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit and no rain cloud has ever got to eat the grains reared by them. So why do they bother?”
Because giving is the most wonderful act of human benevolence you can ever witness. It is not everyone who can give. A good way to detect who is good at giving is to give a person a pineapple to peel away the skin. If one is greedy and close fisted, he will never be able to do this properly leaving the “eyes” only half removed which will make your tongue itchy when you eat it with “eyes”. Giving things away is not easy. That is why The Enlightened One taught us that avarice is the root cause of all our suffering!! I know it is so very difficult to appreciate this fact in this era of conspicuous consumption but I am sure you can remember the tale of King Wessanthara who gave away his two children and also the King Sirisangabo who gave his head to the poor man who gave him part of his meal.
But look at us? Are we willing to give anything away to even our closest relative or friend?
After much thought say we made up our minds to give. OK, when should one give?
There is a gem of an anecdote in the Mahabharata where a beggar seeking alms is asked by the King Yudhishdir to come the following day, to which his brother Bheem congratulates the King because he has defeated Mara or Death because that is the reason why the King is so sure the beggar will be alive the day after. The King feels ashamed and gives the beggar alms. So the correct time to give is …. Whenever the need for alms arises, the need of the receiver, not yours. Because it is not certain that you - the giver or the beggar - the receiver will be there to receive what you want to give and what he wants to receive the next time.
The next question is how much to give.
What a question?! This question comes from the head; not from the heart!!
Give as much as you can! A mother nursing her child will never measure or limit the milk she gives her baby.
The next question is what to give. It is not only money that can be given. It could be a flower or even a smile, a kind word which no amount of money can buy!
It is not how much one gives but how one gives that really matters. When you give a smile to a stranger that may be the only good thing received by him in days or weeks! "Give whatever you can afford to give but you must give with your heart!
Now tell me whom to give. Do not try to find fault with the person who is seeking because you will never find the perfect recipient. Try to remember that a person is asking for help because he or she is in need of help. “Give without being judgmental!
How do we get about giving? We must ensure that the receiver does not feel humiliated, nor does the giver feel proud or conceited by giving. Do not even let your left hand know what your right hand gives. Charity without publicity and fanfare is the highest form of charity. 'Give quietly because the most important person that should know you are giving is… you!
Do not let the recipient feel small or humiliated. If we remember all that we give to others never really belonged to us. We come to this world with nothing and will go with nothing. Why then take pride in giving away something which really did not belong to us? Give with grace and with a feeling of gratitude. When you help someone in need, give it before he asks for it; for if you place him under the necessity of stretching out his hand, you take away from him his self-respect which is worth more than the value of your alms.
What should one feel after giving?
Give and never regret giving and never expect anything in return! After all this giving, how much should we provide for our heirs? Leave your kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing! Learn the Art of Giving, and quoting Saint Kabir:
"When the wealth in the house increases, when water fills a boat, Throw them out with both hands"