tktt: On Charity

“Enq:  But surely every one knows that millions and millions are spent annually on private and public charities?

 
Theo:  Oh, yes; half of which sticks to the hands it passes through before getting to the needy; while a good portion or remainder gets into the hands of professional beggars, those who are too lazy to work, thus doing no good whatever to those who are really in misery and suffering.

 
Haven’t you heard that the first result of the great outflow of charity towards the East-end of London was to raise the rents in Whitechapel by some 20 percent?

 
Enq:  What would you do then?

 
Theo:  Act individually and not collectively; follow the Northern Buddhist precepts: “Never put food into the mouth of the hungry by the hand of another”; “Never let the shadow of thy neighbor (a third person) come between thyself and the object of thy bounty”; “Never give to the Sun time to dry a tear before thou hast wiped it.” Again “Never give money to the needy, or food to the priest, who begs at thy door, through thy servants, lest thy money should diminish gratitude, and thy food turn to gall.”

 
Enq:  But how can this be applied practically?

 
Theo:  The Theosophical ideas of charity mean personal exertion for others; personal mercy and kindness; personal interest in the welfare of those who suffer; personal sympathy, forethought and assistance in their troubles or needs.

 
We Theosophists do not believe in giving money (N.B., if we had it) through other people hands or organizations. We believe in giving to the money a thousandfold greater power and effectiveness by our personal contact and sympathy with those who need it.

 
We believe in relieving the starvation of the soul, as much if not more than the emptiness of the stomach; for gratitude does more good to the man who feels it, than to him for whom it is felt.

 
Where’s the gratitude which your “millions of pounds” should have called forth, or the good feelings provoked by them? Is it shown in the hatred of the East-end poor for the rich? in the growth of the party of anarchy and disorder? or by those thousands of unfortunate working girls, victims to the “sweating” system, driven daily to eke out a living by going on the streets?

 
Do your helpless old men and women thank you for the workhouses; or your poor for the poisonously unhealthy dwellings in which they are allowed to breed new generations of diseased, scrofulous and rickety children, only to put money into the pockets of the insatiable Shylocks who own houses?

 
Therefore it is that every sovereign of all those “millions”, contributed by good and would-be charitable people, falls like a burning curse instead of a blessing on the poor whom it should relieve. We call this generating national Karma, and terrible will be its results on the day of reckoning.”

 
H. P. Blavatsky

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