How NOT to do Good Works

Donating your time and money to helping others is something that everyone should strive to implement in their lives. Not only does it make you feel good, but it makes for stronger communities and can really make a difference in someones life.

If you do something good, let it be done. Do not seek attention or recognition. Why? There are subtle but yet very real consequences.

First I would like to turn your attention to a little story from the Zen Master, "Empty Cloud".

"In China there was once a Prince who loved birds. Whenever he found an injured bird, he would feed and nurse it back to health; and then, when the bird had regained its strength, he would set it free with much rejoicing.

Naturally, he grew quite famous for his talent as a loving healer of wounded birds. Whenever an injured bird was found anywhere in his kingdom, the bird would quickly be brought to him, and he would express his gratitude to the thoughtful person who brought it.

But then, in order to curry the Prince's favor, people soon began to catch birds and to deliberately injure them so that they could take them to the palace.

So many birds were killed in the course of capture and maiming that his kingdom became a hell for birds.

When the Prince saw how much harm his goodness was causing, he decreed that no wounded bird should ever be helped.

When people saw that there was no profit to be gained from helping birds, they ceased harming them.

Sometimes it happens that our experiences are like this Prince's. Sometimes, when we think we're doing the most good, we learn to our chagrin that we're actually causing the most harm.

Perform a good deed in silence and anonymity! Forget about rejoicing. A good deed should have a very short life, and once dead, should be quickly buried. Let it rest in peace. Don't keep trying to resuscitate it. Too often, we try to turn a good deed into a ghost that haunts people, that keeps reminding them of our wonderful service - just in case they start to forget.

But what happens when we are the recipient of someone else's kindness? Well, then, we ought to let that good deed gain immortality. Letting someone else's good deeds live is much more difficult than letting our own good deeds die."

You can read more from Empty Cloud here, and I highly recommend it.

This leads me to my second illustration on how not to do good. There is someone close to me (I won't say who), who works for a large corporation (I won't say which), and for earth day they made a goal to plant the most amount of trees they could possible plant and tally it all up so they could look and point to their accomplishment.

While this may have seemed noble to most of the volunteers, what ended up happening was that the trees were planted hastily. Holes weren't dug deep enough nor taken care of properly after the tree was planted. More than likely most of the trees died as they weren't done properly, but at the end of the day they were able to pat themselves on the back and get a nice write up in the paper.

I bring this up as our favorite fiscal con artist Paul Ryan was caught in a photo op visiting a soup kitchen. How noble and for all of us to witness so we can think how great he is!

From the dailymail

Director of soup kitchen furious after Paul Ryan 'shows up uninvited, washes clean pans for a photo op and then leaves'

A 15-minute feel-good photo op at an Ohio soup kitchen for Paul Ryan has turned into trouble and ill will, the charity's director claims.

Brian J Antal, the president of the Mahoning County St Vincent De Paul Society, says the Republican vice presidential candidate showed up uninvited, scrubbed pots and pans that were already clean and posed for pictures with his family on Saturday.

Mr Antal says he was never informed that Ryan was coming -- and wouldn't have granted him permission to make a campaign stop there if he had.

Donate your money. Donate your time. When you are done shut up about it. Those rewards aren't meant for here on earth.