Today, we use the word ‘philanthropist’ to describe a multi-millionaire who donates huge sums of money to charitable organisations. Philanthropist is derived from two Greek words – ‘Philas’, which means loving and ‘Anthropos’, which means man. In short, a loving man (or woman). So aren’t we all capable too of becoming more loving by giving at whatever level, in whatever way from a heart filled with love?
I know a sweet lady who puts ‘Chowk’ (rangoli) on the doorstep of her next-door neighbour since the past ten years, even remembering the neighbour’s birthday and anniversary! Her neighbour blesses her daily in her prayers. Is this act of loving kindness less than any philanthropy? Service is the rent we have to pay for being tenants of this body. When we awaken every morning, we should ask ourselves, what can I do today to help someone? How can I make a difference? There are so many things you can do! Hungry people could be fed, elders need caring, children need to be loved, depressed persons need cheering, the sick need your prayers, and more…
People say, “How do I help – I don’t have any surplus resources.” My dear, we all have resources like reading, writing, joking, teaching and giving a bit of ourselves and our time. Can you read? That’s your resource. Read to an old person or to a blind person. Can you write? Again – your resource! Write letters, thank you notes, condolence letters, get-well-soon cards to others. If you are a good writer, write inspirational articles in newspapers and magazines to touch the lives of thousands of readers. Can you tell a joke? Tell one to those you meet today and make them laugh – laughter is the best gift ever! Do you buy expensive glossy magazines? After reading, please pass them on to at least ten people who can’t afford them. Can you teach? Then educate a poor child who can’t afford tuitions – maybe your maid’s children? ‘Gyan-Daan’ is the best charity – when you give knowledge to others, you please the Universe, which blesses you with more knowledge and wisdom. Can you sing and dance? Perform for a senior-citizen’s group and entertain them! Can you give good advice? Then counsel and guide those who need help with problems. Are you happy and at peace with yourself? Then reach out to those who are restless and not as fortunate as you!
What if God-forbid you are too old? Too sick? House-bound or bedridden? Can you then help? Yes, you can! With your thoughts and prayers! Send healing thoughts to the ailing and pray for the anonymous patients in hospitals. Pray for the unfortunate souls in mental asylums, for soldiers who guard our borders day and night so we can sleep peacefully at night and live without fear during the day.
We think we are good people because we pay our bills and taxes on time, exercise our franchise and fulfill our duties as citizens. We don’t break laws and don’t interfere in other people’s affairs. Some people proudly proclaim going daily to the Agiyari. Is that really enough? You can do more. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy or indifference, to the needs of those around you. The Bhagvad Gita says, “She who cooks for her family is no less than a Goddess.” Mahtma Gandhi wrote, “The body is given to us to serve all creation.” Sai Baba said, “Service to man is service to God!”
A lot of us tend to believe that the little we can do, counts for nothing, against the vast canvas of this world’s misery and suffering. But just as little drops of water together make the mighty ocean, so too, little acts of kindness and compassion can and will make a difference. When we start living and working for others too, then our lives become richer, more rewarding and more beautiful. So you see, anyone can make a difference – yes, YOU too!