On Vows of Poverty

I think we humans are mostly generous creatures. Most of the time, if we can help those less fortunate than us, we do.

Don’t misunderstand me… I am aware of the incredible number of people suffering… and of the incredible number of people standing by & watching…. and perhaps I’m being overly generous here… perhaps, but that is not the point.

Many of us contribute money, materials, food, or time in some large or small, difficult or easy effort to aid those around us. At times we may wish we could do more, give more… be rich so we could donate more.

OK, let’s switch to a parallel track for a moment…

If we are to help anyone (at any time with anything — a “tool”), we must allow the ‘tool’ to move toward that person… we cannot hold on to (or hoard) that item, feeling, or helping hand. One example is Love. None can experience our Love if we hold onto, misdirect, deflect, or block it… in any way.

The same is true of money. If the coin does not move toward the one in need, that one will never receive it. I know, it sounds kind of simplistic and obvious when put that way… but bear with me for a bit, please.

Switch again…

Every single thing we own, all that stuff we surround ourselves with, originally cost and now is worth a certain number of coin… each coin is one that will not make it to the person in need… because it is not flowing toward that person… it is tied up and held in our possession.

Now I am not suggesting that we all give everything up and live naked in the trees. “Stuff” is necessary for our survival.

But I *am* suggesting that perhaps we think about just how much stuff we have and consume… (for the moment) think simply in terms of money… as if money is a river that flows around us… but we like to store (or keep) lots of it near us. Why do we want to always be wading in the river?

It seems to me that this is the principle physical truth behind the classic vow of poverty.

Yes, those who utter the vow strive for a spiritual focus instead of a worldly one and so commit to not being distracted by stuff. But in the vow, they also commit to not allowing a distraction to become a blocked flow.

Thus we have the spiritual version: a body, soul, and mind free of distraction… as well as a body, soul, and mind which does not block (or hoard) any of the blessings (spiritual & physical) which are flowing around or through us to another.

That $25 book I finished reading long ago is a good, hot meal or even 2-3 days worth of groceries for the homeless guy down by the river… just sitting on a shelf…



About SprinklinThoughts

Give good to the world & make sense of it... the world, not the good... well... OK, the good too. :-)
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9 Responses to On Vows of Poverty

  1. ShimonZ says:

    They’re all kinds of people… those who have opened doors, and those who’ve closed them. What I like most about the human being, is that he has the capacity to make choices. It’s not just instinct. But sometimes that book is worth much more than $25. especially when you share it with your friends…


  2. ntexas99 says:

    Discovered your blog by way of a comment you left over at Shimon’s blog today, and, as is usually the case when I get an itch of curiosity, I decided to head over into your blog space and see what’s up.

    When I was reading your post about poverty and owning stuff, and about moving the coin from your own hand to the hands of those in need, and about the $25 book on a shelf that can translated to putting food on the table … well, it all made sense.

    It also reminded me of something that I had lost sight of, so thank you for that. The past few years have found me in changed circumstances. These days I’ve had to reawaken the beast of creativity in order to make the pennies pretend to be dollars. One of the things I’ve missed the most is my ability to contribute regularly to multiple charities. When I was operating in the world of earned paychecks, I regularly chose several charities, and would make monthly contributions as my way of “moving the coin from one hand to another”. Now that times are tough, I have not been able to afford to continue this practice.

    In the absence of having the ability to move coin, I had to begin contributing the only thing that I had left, which was time. I chose to volunteer with a hospice service for a long while, but then, after an extended illness, this was removed as an option. Your post today reminded me that it is time for me to pick a direction again, and spend my time, or coin, in a way that can make a difference. No matter how small, every penny (or minute) counts. Thanks for the reminder.


    • You’re welcome? Or rather I should thank you for reading and commenting? Both… 🙂
      One of the more difficult lessons I’ve had to learn is that giving to charities is not the only way… in fact, for me it is the wrong way — mostly one that is encouraged by the ‘system’ for people to ‘skim’ the donations for their own benefit (profit)… not all, but most… so, like you, as circumstances seemed to dictate, I’ve learned that the best thing I can ‘donate’ is not just my time, but me — directly… all of me, in the moment, present… doing whatever I can, even if only to smile, or lend a hand to a stranger and then keep on moving upon my path. So yes, “No matter how small…” I believe that ultimately, the ‘coin’ is Love… 🙂


  3. I proudly showed a collection of books to a friend once, and mind you, these were popular fiction, not useful books to which one might wish to refer in the future. She paused, puzzled, and said, “Why did you buy these? Why didn’t you just check them out of the library?” Because I had often moaned to her about our tight budget. It was one of those “duh” moments. Was it pride that made me throw good money away on books that could be borrowed for free? That was one giant step toward understanding the concepts you have so skillfully expressed here. It is high time people wake up, stop being boulders in the stream and start being channels! But first they are going to have to let go of the ring….


  4. ♡eM says:

    Sprinklin’ Smart! You’ve sparked my thinking with this one. We just recently packed up “stuff” and are sending it out to those who want and need it. Now I’m inspired to do more “stuff” sharing. Interesting read, ST.


    • Thank you… but, see?… you know it too… inside… a feeling?… 🙂
      The thing that has kept me thinking about this is a quote:
      …“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor…” — Matthew 19:21


      • ♡eM says:

        The psychology of possession is interesting, Pops, who was an orphaned child and then a Depression Era young man, collected all sorts of “stuff”, but he was also one of the most generous beings, inviting drunkards off the street to sleep it off on our sofa. Our “stuff” represents much, but it is not the real deal. Yes, give it away and get real.


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