What is True Charity?
True charity means to give something without expecting a material benefit in return. If you expect something in return, whether now or later, you are merely battering, not giving true charity. To qualify as true charity a person also should not make others feel indebted to them or use the charity as a way of exercising control over them. Taken one step further, we shouldn’t even expect others to be grateful since most people are forgetful.
We as Buddhists should remember that giving should be done quietly and without self-promotion. We shouldn’t feel the need to boast about the good we do.
Charity is highly praised in every religion, however sometimes it is given with an ulterior motive. Some people give charity as a means of attracting others into their religion – since the charity is done with the ulterior motive of conversion, it is not true charity. True charity is wholesome, has no strings attached, and leaves both the giver and the recipient free from obligation.
At the same time, spiritual growth in Buddhism requires us to reduce our own selfishness and desire to acquire more and more. What we own or have should be used for the benefit of our families and others who need help. In the context of Buddhism, we should perform charitable acts not just with our bodily actions but also with our hearts and minds. If we give true charity within the meaning of Buddhism, we should experience joy in every act of giving. In a normal act of generosity we give out of compassion and kindness when we are in the position to offer help to someone in need. At the same time, we should give charity as a means of reducing our selfishness and cravings.
How Do We Give True Charity ?
So what should we give? There are many things which we can give. We can give material things such as food for the hungry, and money and clothes to the poor. We can give our knowledge, skill, time and energy to projects that benefit others. We can lend a sympathetic ear and counsel to a friend in trouble.
We can even give a part of our body for the benefit of others. This includes donating blood or plasma, or by becoming an organ donor (eyes, kidneys, heart, etc.) upon our death. Lastly, we can give the gift of Buddhism to others. This gift may be the greatest gift of all because is has the power to change lives for the better. Buddha’s path can help people experience greater happiness, peace and joy in their heart and mind. This can help them become more compassionate, forgiving and generous.