My friend shared with me recently on a talk that she had attended from a well known speaker, Ajahn Brahm. After his talk, a member of the audience asked him on how we can help the poor people in India? During her trip there, she saw so much of suffering and poverty and wondered what had those people done to deserve to live in such a state?
Ajahn Brahm answered her by first sharing from his own experience:
He himself had also visited India. And as a monk, he could not carry money with him. So when the beggars came and asked him for money, he had nothing to offer them accept to do some blessings for them. One day, he was in this area where most of the beggars were lepers. One of them came over to beg- and having no money to offer him, Ajahn Brahm just gave him a hug.
After the hug, the beggar gave him such a genuine, happy and sincere wide smile from his heart that Ajahn Brahm that he could never forget. It was the kind of smile- so beautiful, pure, and sincere- and it came from a leper who lived in such dire constraints.
Then Ajahn Brahm went on to share that the suicide rates in Australia are on the rise. Despite living in material comfort and having all the basic needs met, people still could not find the will to live. On the contrary, in poor countries like India, even though many people are starving and not having enough to eat, the suicide rates are low.
They don’t go and kill themselves even when they have no idea where their next meal would come from. They learn to accept and be contended with the little that they have. In a way, they are happier than many of the people in the affluent society.
It is not how much we earn or make that determines our happiness- even though we have been conditioned for years to believe that Money = Security= Happiness. Really, it does not work that way in life.
To watch life recordings of Ajahn Brahm, you can visit http://www.youtube.com/user/BuddhistSocietyWA (about 120 videos)