To help the monks to understand that nobody loves a beggar, Buddha shared this story.

Many years ago, a monk dwelt in a forest-grove on a slope of Himalayas. Not far from his grove was a great marsh. A large flock of birds fed in the swamp in the daytime but returned to the grove to roost at night. The noise of the birds kept the monk awake.

The monk went to seek help from his master. His master greeted him, “I trust that you have made your journey without fatigue. But, why have you come, monk?”

“Not far from the grove where I live is a swamp. A large flock of birds feeds in that swamp in the daytime and returns to my grove each evening to roost. I cannot sleep. Hence, I come to you because of the noise of the birds.”

“But, monk, do you wish the flock of birds to leave and never come back?”

“Yes, Master. I wish the flock never to come back again.”

“Well then, monk, go into the grove at night and cry out, ‘Let the pretty birds hear me, as many as roost in this grove! I want feathers! Let the pretty birds each give me a feather!’”

So the monk went into the grove at night and cried out, “Let the pretty birds hear me, as many as roost in this grove! I want feathers! Let the pretty birds each give me a feather!”

The flock of birds reflected, “The monk begs feathers, the monk wants feathers.” The flock departed from the forest and never came back again.

Buddha continued, “My dear monks, to animals, a beggar is offensive. How much more offensive it must be to human beings.”

Who’s a Beggar and Who Is Not?

During the days of Buddha, it was common practice for Hindu monks to beg on the streets. Because they were focused on their spiritual pursuits, they believed they were above working. However, they did not see themselves as above begging.

Buddha’s goal was to help the monks who began following his teaching understand that they needed to be self-sufficient. His message was, “Learn to take care of yourselves. Do not ask for what you truly do not need. Do not become a beggar.”

The challenge of focusing on the needs of others, having an open heart, and wanting to help is knowing who needs help and who does not. When do you give when do you say no? How much do you give and how much can you help before you destroy another’s opportunity to learn to take care of themselves? The balance of giving a man a fish and teaching a man to fish is not always easy to determine.

We understand the answers must come from our guidance. Only the divine within us knows who is truly in need and who is a self-serving beggar.

As always, look into your heart and examine yourself. Are you asking for more than you give? Do you allow others to take advantage of you in some way? Are you helping others get a leg up, or are you helping others remain dependent? You have many things to consider on your road to your mastery. Keep your heart open, trust your guidance, and keep shining.

 

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