Open Hearts and Open Hands – 1 Dec 10


In Hindi we have a proverb which says that rich people are stingy. I talked about this with several friends who told that this proverb exists in other languages, too. I know that this is only a general proverb but as often, proverbs have their base and root in reality and in common patterns of behavior that some wise people have noticed.

I have actually noticed many times that it is true, even if I like to say it the other way around. When dealing with public and being with people in India as well as in other countries I have always experienced what a big heart people with less money have and how much they give to those in need. I don’t want to say ‘poor people’ but I want to make clear that I am talking about people who have enough to live and to survive with their family but not much more than that. They enjoy small things and find their reasons of happiness in every day’s life. I have seen many times that they have open hands for others and unfortunately often much more open than the hands of better-situated people, people who live in a lot of abundance.

You can notice it if you compare the ratio. A person who earns 100 Rupees gives 10 Rupees to charity and is happy that he can give. He knows and says that this is only a small help but that maybe if many people contribute, it can grow to be a big support, too. In comparison a person who earns 100000 Rupees would usually not give 10000 Rupees to charity – which would be the same percentage. It seems a lot to them. Of course it is a lot of money but the person with a smaller income actually gave the same part of his salary! It is only an example but I feel that people with the bigger and fuller purse have more hesitation to give. Maybe I see this in a wrong way and they actually have a bigger purse because they open it so rarely?

Unfortunately this makes them much poorer from the heart. They would have the capacity to support a lot but they don’t do it. Don’t you think, they could actually live with a little less and still have a lot more than others?

I often have this feeling with rich people in India. Everywhere you can hear and really see with your own eyes how much poverty we have in India. Still however in September of this year you could count 69 Indian billionaires. And among the current five richest people of the world two are Indian! Do these 69 people help others surviving?

If people could open their hearts and their treasures, how many children could go to school, how many hungry stomachs could be filled! It is a pity that those who only earn a little so often give whatever they can but those who earn more don’t give in that ratio. If people just had a bigger wish to support each other, how beautiful this world could be.

I also know that there are many rich people who give a lot and with open hearts. Some of them may have been among the billionaires of this world if they did not do that much charity and many lives have actually been saved or improved through their financial support. Of course those 69 Indian billionaires also are employers for thousands of people and thus help them to survive. Everybody needs to see in his own heart how much he can help. If you can, in any way, please do it.


  1. Armin

    Some years ago I worked as parcel deliverer and I had some people out of the normal working class and some out of the upper working class in my district. Guess who often gave tips and who rarer gave tips? It was known in the hole parcel delivery company that it is better to have poorer people in ones district. The rich had been only generous is complaining…I think being rich is very close related with stinginess, only very few of the rich people could withstand this disease.
    Being generous in general is what I like very much in the islamic religion.



  2. Tomas

    Dear Swami, Thank you for the refreshing and the challenging article. It was like a sip of fresh air to me. The “poor” didn’t boast for their achievements and has no time to involve themselves in the discussions on self-improvement or the similar musings – they just live and love. So each time I meet a poor, my sketchbook opens as if itself and sit me back into an awe towards the beauty of our spiritual roots and the comprehension of her power to save the world lost in the always busy market.

  3. Lise-Lotte Bonne

    Thank you for your words – you are right – to open my hands and heart … and give something – money – love – food – help or other things I will get so much love back … It´s the meaning of life for me ….

  4. Jeremy

    People want to hold on to what they got and also make more of it. It is interesting to me that you can be stingy with love and still have it.

  5. Greg

    It’s harder to go through the eye of a needle than to get a rich man to part with his money.

  6. Rich Eliot

    I really agree Swami Ji. Thanks for saying this kind of thing so well. It helps me conceptualize and learn from the things I see around me.

  7. Seth

    I totally agree Swami Ji. There is a quaker saying about the accumilation of material weath. “The spirit of charity blossoms in neither those with too little or too much but those with just enough.”

  8. Clara Lyon

    Gosh Swami Ji, when I think about all the homeless hungry people on the planet I can’t stand how deeply I know it doesn’t have to be that way, if the lucky ones would reach out a helping hand to the people that need it. Compassion makes everyone happy, especially the one who feels it running through them.

  9. Bailey from NC

    It is really wild that there is no limit to the amount of wealth a single person can posses. How is it possible, that through clevernis and greed one man could own an entire island, while 5 million people would have to share another? This makes no sense if you think about it. Nothing could merit this, especially not birth or paying workers low wages to earn a grand profit or engineering a product that made its consumers obese.

  10. Rachel

    What a beautiful heart you have Swami Ji. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us so that we can more easily open our own hearts.

  11. anonymous

    It is a commen practice in Manhattan to ignore a homeless person that asks for change because he may use it to buy alcohol instead of food. But what is to stop you from taking the time to find him a place to sleep and a job somewhere? Our, perhaps rational motives behind refusing to help, may lead us quite far from ourselves and sever the connection we have with the love in our hearts.

  12. Emma Shields

    If someone really knows the fear and pain a person deiing from infection because they cannot afford the single shot of antibiotic that would save their life, really felt I think that every person in the world would cease to suffer in this way.

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