Only in Boulder: “Your Karmic Piggy Bank.”

Via Waylon Lewis
on Feb 12, 2010
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bum sign funny homeless

Saw this, riding by on my bike on way to meet Phil Anson of Phil’s Fresh, now Evol Burritos, at Salt yesterday. Circled back. Took photos, with generous permission of friendly homeless gentleman. Gave hard-earned dollar by way of thanks for their humor and creativity, and providing me with opportunity to

1) slow down, if only for a moment, and

2) cease my stingy, self-centered ways, if only for a moment.

Rode on.

homeless sign funny karma

Some Buddhist quotes that may provide some inspiration around the subject of money, generosity, and lack of money:

Money is a simple situation that represents life, strength and lineage or heritage of all kinds. It is very simple and very direct. The three principles – practice, money and learning – actually work with each other and all three of them are very important. People in the past have worked on those same three things. Our community is growing by being squeezed…although our funds are tight, our vision is enormous. That is the way we behave; and that combination works very brilliantly and very beautifully.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Famous Last Words” Karme Dzong Boulder 24 January 1977

Generosity is very important in Buddhism. In Sanskrit there is a word, dana, which at its Indo-European root is related to “donation.” Dana is generosity, or giving in. Dana is also connected with devotion and the appreciation of sacredness. Sacredness is not purely a religious concept alone, but it is an expression of general openness – how to be open, how to kiss somebody, how to express the emotion of giving. You are giving yourself, not just a gift alone. So real generosity comes from developing a general sense of kindness…”

~ Selected Writings Comparing the Heart: A Dialogue Between Father Thomas Keating and Chogyam Trungpa from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa available through Shambhala Publications

We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense
of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness, and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain — although what we gain should not
particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more
we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens
naturally, automatically, always.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving Kindness, available through Shambhala Publications

On the whole we should regard money as mother’s milk: it nourishes us and it nourishes others. That should be our attitude to money. It’s not just a bank coupon that we have in our wallet. Each dollar contains a lot of past; many people worked for that particular one dollar, one cent. They worked so hard, with their sweat and tears. So it’s like mother’s milk. But at the same time, mother’s milk can be given away and we can produce more mother’s milk. So I wouldn’t hang on to it too tightly.

~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Regarding Money as Mother’s Milk,” Ratna Society Talks (1978-81), available through the Shambhala Shop

When I’m dressing, sometimes my friend, Mr. P., says to me, “You can’t wear that shirt for the fourth time,” I say, “Of course I can.” I’ve worn a single shirt many times, and it has looked fine. That’s what we call merit. Merit means that somebody deserves that kind of manifestation. A person doesn’t have to be extravagant in order to manifest wealth, but he or she does have to have some karmic sense of basic sanity, worthwhileness…We tend to borrow the concepts of how people have made money in the past. Obviously, we are born naturally rich, but at the same time, from a Buddhist point of view, we have forgotten the merit involved, the fact that we are glowing as we are, wearing our shirt for the eighth time!

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Regarding Money as Mother’s Milk,” Ratna Society Talks (1978-81), available through the Shambhala Shop

The idea of giving is not exactly the idea that you have so much to give and therefore, you should give or, for that matter, the idea that you have so little to give and therefore you should give whatever precious thing you have. But it is giving in the sense of a general feeling of being willing to part with any precious things that exist, anything you want to hold onto. Giving is trying to part with that kind of thing. So the basic idea of generosity, or the paramita of generosity, is learning how to part with the things that you have.

~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, unpublished transcript, unknown source

The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign that we are holding on to something – usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy; we hold on tight. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering whatever we can – a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement – we are training in letting go.

~ Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, from Shambhala Publications


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


7 Responses to “Only in Boulder: “Your Karmic Piggy Bank.””

  1. Laurie says:

    I was shopping with my granddaughters and a young lady came up to me and asked me for money for food. I gave her my last $10. My granddaughters asked me how I knew she wasn’t lying about needing money. I told them it wasn’t my place to decide if she really needed the money, but that since I had $10 that I didn’t NEED, it was important to me to give it to her. They thought about it for a long time and TWO WEEKS later, my one granddaughter came to me and said “If that girl was really hungry and you had said no, it would have been very sad. It’s better that you gave it to her just in case, huh?” She got it!!!!!

  2. ARCreated says:

    interesting to see spam on this post 🙂
    Awesome post.

  3. loved this. well done.

  4. Rock My Soles
    How about "Will work for karma" no donations needed.

    Cliff Feigenbaum
    whatever happened to will 'Work' for food?
    (like the rest of us are).

    unemployment is not always the fault of the person without the job… have you ever lost everything and tried to get a job with no address, phone number, place to shower, etc?

    Cliff Feigenbaum
    i have been close

    CLOSE only counts in hand grenades and atomic bombs, oh, and the game of horseshoes.
    My general policy, imperfect as it is, is that if the homeless person is offering something–a song, a smile, a laugh, a funny sign…or if they're obviously in need, then I offer something in return.

    In Boulder, we're always full of young men and women traveling the country, healthy, homeless…and as I rush about, tired, stressed, seeing them asking for money always, frankly, @#$%^&*$%^&s me off. God bless 'em for traveling and living such a life, but I work my arse off for my dollars.

  5. Yah, just caught that, and deleted it!

  6. nice post, just added to my Blogroll