A man who sees another man on the street corner with only a stump for an arm will be so shocked the first time he’ll give him sixpence. But the second time it’ll be only a threepenny bit. And if he sees him a third time, he’ll have him cold-bloodedly handed over to the police.
The generosity of Tristan Bernard, who could never resist the entreaties of a beggar, was one of the causes of his own financial difficulties. One poor wretch . . . would always be found at Bernard’s gate at certain fixed times. On one occasion, the old man’s eyes widened with delight as he watched his benefactor take a sizable bill from his wallet instead of the usual coins. “We’re leaving tomorrow for Normandy,” explained Bernard, dropping the bill into the beggar’s hat. “Here’s two months’ donation in advance. You have a right to your vacation, too.”
Charity is an ugly trick. It is a virtue grown by the rich on the graves of the poor. Unless it is accompanied by sincere revolt against the present social system, it is cheap moral swagger. In former times it was used as fire insurance by the rich, but now that the fear of Hell has gone . . . it is used either to gild mean lives with nobility or as a political instrument.
Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion . . . is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.
It is good enough to talk of God whilst we are sitting here after a nice breakfast and looking forward to a nicer luncheon, but how am I to talk of God to the millions who have to go without two meals a day? To them God can only appear as bread.
The feeding of those that are hungry is a form of contemplation.
When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.
When you’re not used to comfort and good things to eat, you’re intoxicated by them in no time. Truth’s only too pleased to leave you. Very little’s ever needed for Truth to let go of you. And after all, you’re not really very keen to keep hold of it.
That lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master.
The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
He who wants to do good knocks at the gate; he who loves finds the gate open.
We say that time is money, meaning both are valuable. Both are a form of power. Usually, there is a reciprocal relationship between them; that is, abundance of money seems to go along with shortage of time, and abundance of time with shortage of money. Money is the wealth of the materialist, and works miracles in the realm of the physical. Time is the wealth of the pilgrim, and works miracles in all realms.
But lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
The tension between the call to the desert and to the marketplace arises not from the greater presence of God in one or the other, but from our varying psychological needs to apprehend him in different ways.
If I want to build big biceps, I need to use every opportunity to practice lifting weights. If I want to live in a way that is loving and generous and fearless, then I need to practice overcoming any tendency to be angry or greedy or confused. Life is a terrific gym. Every situation is an opportunity to practice.