So a friend of mine sent me an email asking a question about how to give:
One of my questions to you is on the subject of giving money to a worthy cause. If I have the choice between helping someone who would use the money for charitable work and it would help a number of people, or a friend who I care deeply for and is having some financial problems and it would mean her family have a better Christmas, which should I choose? My head is saying the charity, based on the principles Geshe Michael explained about someone in need, who nobody else is helping, and it will benefit a number of people and to whom I want to make a contribution as feel it is a worthwhile cause. My heart is saying my dear friend based on the principle it is someone I care deeply about, who nobody else is helping and has been a good friend to me. The only problem is that it will only benefit her direct family? Am I getting hung up on the strategy or is it important to get it right so that the power of my giving will be stronger?
It’s a good question; right now, we’re all limited in how much we can give. So then the question becomes, how do i get the biggest bang for my buck? That is, with what i have now, how can i plant a seed that will maximize my ability to help others in the future?
so there’s a couple of things i guess i would say in regards to this question… it does make my friend a powerful object to help them if they have helped me in the past–that’s one of the conditions that makes a karma more strong (if someone has helped you in the past). also, it’s more powerful to see the result of your giving; so, for example, it’s more powerful to hand someone the money yourself rather than write a check and put it in the mail.
the idea behind helping more people is creating the possibility to help more people; so, if i give to a doctor, for example, they could treat lots of people. so what i would suggest is that, if i give the money to a friend, i could explain to them that you want to help them so that i plant the seeds to see other people helping each other. it’s the idea of trying to teach someone to fish, rather than just give them fish–if i can explain to them how giving works, then i could create another person who knows how to give–this is how we really hope to change the world.
so also, keep in mind that whenever i ask myself a question like this (should i do this or that?) i am probably asking myself a diamond dealer question. so the answer to a diamond dealer question is always… do both! 🙂 give money to both, or give the money to my friend and teach them also to give, or give to the charity and dedicate that karma to seeing my friend get the money they need.
and isn’t that what you really wanted to do, anyway? 🙂