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Are we living in the Dark Ages?

edited January 2006 in Buddhism Today
:( I ask this because, today I had planned to go out with a girl that I really liked. (Date? I dunno), but anyway...we were going to meet at this book store that she works at. We knew each other from there, as I used to work there also.

When I got there, she hadnt arrived yet, so I started to talking to former coworkers about how their day was going.

They were aggrivated and sour over this homeless woman who had come into the store earlier in the day and was there for several hours. This woman was still there when I arrived.

Apparently, she was riding along with someone from the Homeless shelter when they stopped at the book store. The driver told the woman to go look at magazines while she looked for a book.

Long story short, the driver left the woman at the book store. The shelter was about an hour away. The homeless woman cried and cried to the booksellers and to the customers. She tried calling the homeless shelter for a ride, because if she didnt make it back by a certain time, the shelter would give away her bed. Nobody would give her a ride. She begged customers and coworkers but nobody would help her.

I skipped my date and drove the woman back to the shelter, where (I hope) she got her bed and everything turned out fine. I dont know this because when I dropped her off at the shelter, she went inside and thats all I saw. Before she left my car though I gave her my hooded sweatshirt and $30 (All I had).

I just dont get it. I read one of Buddha's quotes that read "Joyously participate in the sorrows of others." I dont quite understand this completely. I get it somewhat, but even after helping the woman, I didnt feel all that joyous. Especially after talking to her about how she got into this situation.

I wanted to do more for her, but I couldnt bring myself to take her to my house because the potential danger to my family. (After all, I dont know this person, nor what she is really capable of).

Is this way of thinking as incorrect as those who didnt do anything at all to help her?

I dont know. I'm just venting. :-/

Comments

  • edited December 2005
    What you did was a infinitely more helpful than anybody else in that particular situation. You helped her get to the shelter, the people at the shelter will it take from there (unless they go and dump here at another bookstore, or you were the 100th victim of the bookstore scam). As Nelson Mandela said "people need a helping hand, not a hand out". I think that what you did was ample. If we all do a little it adds up to lot. Allow yourself to feel the joy of helping - reward yourself and you will want to keep on doing it.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2005
    Maybe part of your feeling was 'anger' at the way others blatantly refused to help, thus demonstrating their thoroughly 'unchristian' behaviour (especially around Christmas time!!) but also that in demonstrating kindness towards her, you were sacrificing part of your pre-arranged date-time....

    I don't know.... Just trying to think about it as if I were in your shoes.... But I'd have done the same thing... maybe also going into the shelter and having a quiet word with the amnesiac driver...!!

    Well done you... it was a good and kind thing to do....;)
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2005
    Yes, Infiniteknot, we are living through Dark Ages. Why are we surprised? Those of us who learned the 'old' history syllabus were taught about the darkness that fell across Europe after Alaric sent the imperial crown from Rome to Constantinople and the legions were withdrawn. We unbderstood that the fall of such a vast empire would have long-lasting effects, centuries-long effects.

    The Twentieth Century saw the end of a number of world-spanning empires: the British, the French, the Russian and, above all, the Ottoman. Despite this, we appear to imagine that we simply stepped out of imperial rule into some sort of democratic sunshine. What nonsense! Only ignorance of the dynamics of the historical process could conceal the fact that we are in a period of chaos and reajustment.

    Lord Grey said that the "lights are going out all over Europe" in 1914. They have not been lit again yet. The barbarians are not at the gates: they have taken over the civitas and we are living with the consequences.
  • edited December 2005
    Infiniteknot
    Well done and remember Absolutely everything you do and say makes a difference.
    By some thought, last week I rescued a little dog that was eaten up with fleas. He had been traveling for some time and was cold and hungry. Now he is happy and rested. However, all the other pooches in my house have fleas. We will overcome!!
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2005
    InsideOut wrote:
    Infiniteknot
    Well done and remember Absolutely everything you do and say makes a difference.
    By some thought, last week I rescued a little dog that was eaten up with fleas. He had been traveling for some time and was cold and hungry. Now he is happy and rested. However, all the other pooches in my house have fleas. We will overcome!!

    Very few people have compassion to start a flea sanctuary, IO: may it prosper long. I look forward to the website and donation boxes across the land.
  • edited December 2005
    federica wrote:
    Maybe part of your feeling was 'anger' at the way others blatantly refused to help, thus demonstrating their thoroughly 'unchristian' behaviour (especially around Christmas time!!) [SIZE]
    Could be.
  • edited December 2005
    carbonunit wrote:
    the people at the shelter will it take from there (unless they go and dump here at another bookstore, or you were the 100th victim of the bookstore scam).
    I think it was another homeless person (who had a car). They both lived at the shelter. I dont think it was someone who ran the shelter.
  • edited December 2005
    That might make it more likely that it was a scam, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. You took the situation at face value, helped a person in need, and anyone who did wrong in that situation, including the homeless women if they did, will have to live with their deception. There's no way of knowing, so don't fret.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited December 2005
    I think you did very well, Infinite Knot. It doesn't really matter if the woman was pulling a scam on you or not. Your intention was to help her, and you did the best you could.

    OK, time for another story (sorry). One time Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) was seeking a famous dakini (female enlightened being) who could give him teachings on Ati Yoga (the highest yoga teachings, also known as dzogchen, or Clear Light). Along the way he met what appeared to be an ordinary serving girl carrying a crystal decanter, which she proceeded to fill at a spring. He approached the girl and asked if she could tell him to way to the dakini's place. She completely ignored him, picked up the decanter and walked away, leaving a stunned tantric master in her wake. A short time later she reappeared, once again carrying the decanter, which she again went to the spring to refill. Again Guru Rinpoche approached the girl and repeated his request, and again she ignored him, filled the decanter and walked away. By this time, even the great master was getting a little peeved! So the next time the girl returned, he used his powers to freeze the decanter to the rock when she set it down so that she couldn't move it.

    "Now will you answer my question?" he roared.

    "Nice trick," the girl replied. "What do you think of this one?" She then pulled out a crystal hooked knife (such as is used by dakinis), bared her breast, and with one swipe of the blade, cut her breast open, revealing the mandala of deities of Ati Yoga. It was then that Guru Rinpoche realized that he had been talking with a dakini all along and that even he had failed to recognize her.

    So if the great master Padmasambhava couldn't recognize a dakini, how could we possibly do so? Therefore, whenever we run into a situation like Infinite Knot did, the best thing to assume is that this is a dakini who has come to teach us a valuable lesson because if we assume otherwise, we might just miss out on something very precious. And I would say that in this case she did teach you a very valuable lesson, Inf. Knot, that giving without hope of reward or even a thank you can be very rewarding in its own right. Eh?

    Palzang
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited December 2005
    In our own, European, tradition, we have many stories of the Christ appearing to both saints and sinners in the guise of poor people. The best known are, probably, the legend of Saint Francis and the leper, and of Saint Christopher and the child.

    At the heart of these stories is the lesson that we are blinded by our prejudgments and presuppositions but that compassion cuts through the mind's obscurity, leading us to the awakening that is our birth-gift.
  • edited January 2006
    Personally I think you can for that day alone can yourself the King of Kings. But I would like to say that action is not exclusively the action of a Buddhist.....but I guess you know that. If you asked me to join your political party for that day only I would of put down an annual subscription.
    This is the stuff I can relate to not heaps of references to scriptures. If I'm wrong and someone can convince me that this action is in some way connected to the Buddhist mind set I will give up fight within myself to reject the abstract jargon that gets through around on this site.
    ps Did your date blow you out...? None my business really but I do like gossip...
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 2006
    This mind-set is connected to whatever religion is practised properly by anybody. The fundamental message of all religions is to love one another and show compassion.
    Sadly, some practitioners of some belief structures occasionally lose sight of the core message, and revert to "an eye for an eye"....
    and as Gandhi says, that attitude will turn us all blind.....*deep and heavy sigh*.... :(
  • edited January 2006
    Nice trick," the girl replied. "What do you think of this one?" She then pulled out a crystal hooked knife (such as is used by dakinis), bared her breast, and with one swipe of the blade, cut her breast open, revealing the mandala of deities of Ati Yoga.

    Man, I'm getting into this Tibetan thing now...Palzang you could be the snoop dog of the sanga.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited January 2006
    yes, with SimonthePilgrim as EminEm....(or whatever....)
  • edited January 2006
    Palzang wrote:
    I think you did very well, Infinite Knot. It doesn't really matter if the woman was pulling a scam on you or not. Your intention was to help her, and you did the best you could.

    OK, time for another story (sorry). One time Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) was seeking a famous dakini (female enlightened being) who could give him teachings on Ati Yoga (the highest yoga teachings, also known as dzogchen, or Clear Light). Along the way he met what appeared to be an ordinary serving girl carrying a crystal decanter, which she proceeded to fill at a spring. He approached the girl and asked if she could tell him to way to the dakini's place. She completely ignored him, picked up the decanter and walked away, leaving a stunned tantric master in her wake. A short time later she reappeared, once again carrying the decanter, which she again went to the spring to refill. Again Guru Rinpoche approached the girl and repeated his request, and again she ignored him, filled the decanter and walked away. By this time, even the great master was getting a little peeved! So the next time the girl returned, he used his powers to freeze the decanter to the rock when she set it down so that she couldn't move it.

    "Now will you answer my question?" he roared.

    "Nice trick," the girl replied. "What do you think of this one?" She then pulled out a crystal hooked knife (such as is used by dakinis), bared her breast, and with one swipe of the blade, cut her breast open, revealing the mandala of deities of Ati Yoga. It was then that Guru Rinpoche realized that he had been talking with a dakini all along and that even he had failed to recognize her.

    So if the great master Padmasambhava couldn't recognize a dakini, how could we possibly do so? Therefore, whenever we run into a situation like Infinite Knot did, the best thing to assume is that this is a dakini who has come to teach us a valuable lesson because if we assume otherwise, we might just miss out on something very precious. And I would say that in this case she did teach you a very valuable lesson, Inf. Knot, that giving without hope of reward or even a thank you can be very rewarding in its own right. Eh?

    Palzang

    Good job, lad. As to the "scam" aspect -- where is the "scam" if you gave as your heart felt proper to give. Even if the "other" has questionable intent, the compassion is of YOUR heart -- not theirs.

    Keep changing the world -- it needs it.

    gassho
    -fd-
  • XraymanXrayman Veteran
    edited January 2006
    Okay this was a long time ago when I was in the military..

    This guy was what we call a grot(a filthy dirty, guy). he had been warned many times to clean himself, his room, his clothes-just to generally get-with-the-program. He didnt so we all got in the s***. To "assist him" we pulled his room to bits so that he would redo it and clean it properly. Kind of like what happened in "A Few Good Men" although not as violent. Afterwards it was a disaster area.

    Well my conscience got the better of me and I decided to help him clean it up-iron shirts-anything to assist, none of the other guys would own up to the vandalism of his space.
    He ended up taking out all his frustration on me-pissed off for the next three years at me. I made a vow to NEVER treat another like that ever again-no matter what.

    So sometimes being a (late) good samaritan/gumby whatever you want to call it, can backfire-more power to you though in that situation-it may have been a scam, or maybe not-she may remember your generosity in years to come. It may have helped in the Butterfly effect of good deeds and metta-it may catch-on.

    P.S. I have grown up a lot since then and am as Buddhist as I can be (at least I'm trying)
  • edited January 2006
    Sometimes the kindest thing is to not 'help'.
  • edited January 2006
    This was at the bottom of a page posted by Rev. Genryu yesterday.

    Student:? Is it ever appropriate to withhold compassion?

    Sojun:? I hesitate to say never about anything. What is necessary is to do the appropriate thing, and we don?t always know what that is beforehand. If you have some rule and try to stick to it, you?re creating inflexibility. So I would say that sometimes it?s appropriate to withhold it. I don?t know when. Don?t ask me when. It?s like, ?should you never tell a lie?? Sometimes you have to tell an untruth. Don?t ask me when. But you?ll know when.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited January 2006
    Xrayman wrote:
    Okay this was a long time ago when I was in the military..

    This guy was what we call a grot(a filthy dirty, guy). he had been warned many times to clean himself, his room, his clothes-just to generally get-with-the-program. He didnt so we all got in the s***. To "assist him" we pulled his room to bits so that he would redo it and clean it properly. Kind of like what happened in "A Few Good Men" although not as violent. Afterwards it was a disaster area.

    Well my conscience got the better of me and I decided to help him clean it up-iron shirts-anything to assist, none of the other guys would own up to the vandalism of his space.
    He ended up taking out all his frustration on me-pissed off for the next three years at me. I made a vow to NEVER treat another like that ever again-no matter what.

    So sometimes being a (late) good samaritan/gumby whatever you want to call it, can backfire-more power to you though in that situation-it may have been a scam, or maybe not-she may remember your generosity in years to come. It may have helped in the Butterfly effect of good deeds and metta-it may catch-on.

    P.S. I have grown up a lot since then and am as Buddhist as I can be (at least I'm trying)


    Excellent story! I can well attest that the most embarassing, humiliating things I ever did were the times when I learned the most. Hard lessons aren't forgotten!

    And yes, I really do understand that you're trying to be as Buddhist as you can be. It'sa process, after all!

    Palzang
  • XraymanXrayman Veteran
    edited January 2006
    Got one more..

    I worked for an American Industrial Automation company (allen-bradley) and we had a guy that was a storeman-odd job guy. He was pretty down on himself about just being a storeman, however, he was studying his Basic Electronics Certificate, to become an Electronics Technician (my Trade).

    I said to him, "Ascaro" (hes Columbian) do as much learning as you can-get the company to pay to put you through college etc. go as far as you can. he said ok I'll try.
    This was around 13 years ago.

    Now after I've changed jobs around four times since then, I recently started to work for a company that deals with allen-bradley product. and who should I meet, Ascaro- or should I say Electronics Engineer Ascaro! More qualified than me! He said Hey I took your advice, I went for everything i could get! now I'm an engineer! thanks to you!

    So the moral of this story is your advice that you give today may be retained 13 years or more-so give it wisely!

    P.S. Sometimes I'd wished I toook my OWN advice!

    Bigmouth Strikes Again!

    regards
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