For, what we do for our families, for our homes – cannot be termed as charity at all. It is our duty, our responsibility. And, so charity does not begin at home. Charity must begin outside our homes. Charity is born of our sense of piety towards those who are not our kith or kin, who are strangers to us, who are not known to us personally…… But, who are suffering, who are in need of our services.

By being charitable towards our own family members, we do not prove anything. Indeed, we insult the bond that exists between us. What I do for them is part of my family obligation – nothing more than that.  And, there comes an end to such obligation. For instance you are not obliged to finance your children for life. At certain age they must try to make their own living.

Obligations come to an end, Charity never does.
Charity is kind of Love Offering that is done without any obligation. When you are not obliged to do anything, and yet you do it – then, you are being charitable.

A belief system that makes it compulsory for you to be charitable, in fact kills your sense of charity. No such system can actually give birth to a charitable heart. The owner of a charitable heart does not have to be compelled to do an act of charity. He does not have to be promised the comforts of heaven after death. He does not need any motivation, any exterior motive to do charity.

If you feel for the suffering of Lebanese people just because they are followers of same religion like you – then you are not being charitable. You must feel their suffering because they are actually suffering. And, it is inhuman to make people suffer. Behind the suffering of Lebanese people, not the Israelis alone are guilty. The Hezbollah is equally guilty. They are like a state within state. And, for that, the State of Lebanon is guilty too. How can they allow such well equipped militant organization exist within their state?

If you support the Israeli aggression just because you happen to be a Jew, then you are being aggressive also. Then, you are guilty of the same crime and violence. Don’t you ever think that you are being charitable by supporting such an act of aggression?

Charity is not done to support just any cause.
Charity must be done to support charitable causes. What kind of charitable cause is an aggression?

A lawyer or a law firm that is defending terrorist is not being charitable also, though they may claim so. They claim that they are not being paid by those terrorists. That makes them no better than those very terrorists they are defending. They are fighting for a common cause, a common cause that is not charitable. What kind of charitable cause is killing of innocent people, bombing public areas and damaging country’s image?

A charitable cause is a cause that brings happiness for many people, for as many as it can. And, a charitable person is a person who is engaged in such a cause.

As such a charitable person, a person with charitable heart, cannot be confined to the four walls of his own house. Such persons are always trying to get out of their house, to free themselves from their obligations, so they can be charitable towards all. By stating that, of course I do not mean that they are running away from their responsibilities. No. Indeed they are working hard to fulfill all their obligations, finish their responsibilities towards their families – so they can do something else. So, they can move to acts of higher value.

Donation, by the way, is just one aspect of charity. It is definitely not the only aspect. In fact you can donate without being charitable. When you donate unwillingly, you are not being charitable. It is also not being charitable when you support an electoral campaign having some goals in your mind. Any donation made, any act of service rendered, anything done with some expectation – cannot be termed as charity.

Charity is done without an eye to the result.
Charity is done simply because you are charitable. It is part of your nature. Anything that is not natural – is not charity.

Learn to be charitable from the nature around you.
Sun gives its light without any expectation. Moon shines without hoping for any return. The wind blows because blowing is its nature. The water flows on its own accord. And, we benefit from them all. We benefit from them because they are just following their nature. They are not doing anything else.

By being charitable, we are being ourselves.
By not being charitable, we are acting against our own nature. As a result we create problems for ourselves too.

By being charitable, we are not doing favor to anybody.
Actually, an act of charity benefits us – for it connects us with our nature! Being charitable, therefore, is a must for our own sake.

Go out, leave your shell, and feel for the poor, the down-trodden, the broken ones….. Feel their suffering, their hunger and their thirst….. Feel for them until tears roll down your eyes and your heart bleeds…. And, you are literally moved to serve them. Such a service rendered to the less privileged ones, in my opinion, is a true act of charity.

You don’t have to wait for the press to come and cover your act of charity. Service has got nothing to do with coverage by media. Today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s waste-paper anyway. So, don’t you ever care for the media!

Don’t you act like those petty politicians and ruthless political parties that spend more money on advertising about the charity than the actual charity they make!

Another thing that is very important: Being charitable also means being very intelligent. Charity is an act of intelligent mind. Dull minds can only donate, they cannot make charity. And, we have seen the difference between the two. People of dull understanding cannot render service – at the most they can help. And, such help boost their egos. Such help does not raise their consciousness.

Some time back when a series of earthquakes shattered the city of Yogyakarta, many people, organizations, even governments came forward to help. In matter of days they were no longer in need of food, medicines and clothing. Our friends there followed the development very closely and decided to embark upon service in one specific area that no-one at that point had thought of, which was helping them to cope up with their stress and trauma. To uplift their spirit and energies so they could go back to work and do not stand in queue in front of free public kitchens which were in plenty. They succeeded, and the Governor acknowledged it by visiting their camp, even singing with them. This is an intelligent way of doing charity. This is being charitable in its truest sense.

Give your time; give your energy. That is important. Many can give money, but very few can actually give their time and energy. Don’t you go by the number of volunteers you see, not all of them are volunteers. Most of them are paid, either by government or by institutions they represent. Many of them, hired by so called NGOs, draw more salary than you and me. They are workers, they work for their living. They get paid for the work. There is nothing charitable about them.

I am not saying that they are not needed. They too are needed. But they are not volunteers in the true sense of the word. They are paid workers. Perhaps the institutions they represent are charitable. “Perhaps”, for even that is not always the case. Many such institutions have their own agenda of promoting their cause through the services they render.

It is for you to choose, now – you want to be charitable or a paid worker. If you choose to be charitable, then prepare yourself for the hard times ahead. For, charity entails sacrifice. Charity and sacrifice are synonym. The amount of energy and time that you spend for the cause may not be enough. You may have to surrender your head for the cause. That would be an Ultimate Act of Charity.