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Charitable and Blissful

Tegh Vir Singh

Science has  only confirmed a long known fact, that, when we do good not only we feel good, the person receiving the good and the person observing us doing good also feels good.

A conversation with  Prakash a decade ago might explain why many people do good and no one seems to be happy. 

As the group rested after our walk, conversation turned to wealth and poverty. 

In a rhetorical outburst, Prakash asked, "Who is to say who is  poor? 

Many of these beggars are just too lazy to work and find it easier to beg for a living. I will never give anything to a beggar again, they do not deserve the charity they receive because they are an ungrateful lot." 

After a very long minute of silence, I asked him why he was so agitated.

It seemed that Prakash's experience with charity, always resulted in an unpleasant experience. He narrated his previous day's experience.


Prakash's wife Chanda is deeply religious. She visits the temple everyday. She offers prayers and then gives alms and food to the poor who invariably congregate outside such places.  

Prakash the dutiful husband always accompanies her driving her to the temple and back. One day unable to find parking space, Prakash happily volunteered to stay in the car while Chanda went for her daily appointment with God.

Lost in thought Prakash was soon jarred out of his reverie by a persistent tapping on his elbow. A middle aged woman stretched her palm out at him, begging. Prakash had received some good news the previous evening and felt expansive. He dropped ten rupees into the outstretched hand.  The lady looked blankly at Prakash and said, "I am hungry, give me more."

At that time 10 rupees was enough to have a working meal. An astonished and upset Prakash flew into a rage. He ticked the woman off and she in return cussed at him as she  hobbled off with a scowl on her face. 

A visibly upset Prakash said, "Instead of being grateful the horrible woman abused me."

I felt sorry, but could not figure out for whom. An example of a charitable act, resulting not in joy but in disgust. The pleasantness of the evening suddenly evaporated.

I asked Prakash whether he expected anything in return for his act of charity 

"Of course!" he said, "I expected a smile, some  acknowledgement maybe even a blessing, but the woman, she was simply horribly obnoxious"

While professional expectations heightens our performance and therefore important, the opposite applies in our personal life. Expectations from love, friendship, parenting, worship, charity etc. almost always disappoint. This is because with every expectation comes the seed of a disappointment, that of unfulfilled expectations.

The moment we have expectations of rewards for our love, friendship, parenting etc. we corrupt it and anything that is corrupted cannot be fundamentally good nor satisfying.

This is why our elders from their experience taught, "Do good and forget about it". 

Expectations are born because of seeking and only the unfulfilled seek. The one who has arrived does not seek. When we stop seeking rewards we will arrive, that is the ultimate, the state of unexpected bliss.


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