“Such there be, who when they have done a good turn to any, are ready to set them on the score for it, and to require retaliation. Others there be, who though they stand not upon retaliation,to require any, yet they think with themselves nevertheless, that such a one is their debtor, and they know as their word is what they have done.
“Others again there be, who when they have done and such thing, do not so much as know what they have done; but are like unto the vine, which beareth her grapes, and when once she hath borne her own proper fruit, is content and seeks for no further recompense. As a horse after a race, or a hunting dog when he has hunted, and a bee when she has made her honey, look not for applause and commendations; so neither does that man that rightly doth understand his own nature when he has done a good turn.” ~Marcus Aurelius
It somewhat amazes me that so many people don’t get that charity isn’t really charity if you expect to get something back for your good deed. Whether it be expecting the person you helped to reciprocate in some way, or expecting the charity you helped to give you publicity for doing so, It’s not charity, it’s making a purchase if you expect something in return. The same is true if you think that by doing someone a favor, they are now indebted to you.
As Aurelius notes, true charity is when you give to others in such a way as to not even think of it as doing them a favor. Somebody needs help, you just help them. You don’t think “ I need to do my good deed for the day, so I will help him.” You don’t think, “I’m a good person, therefore I should help.” You do it without thinking about it at all. It is as automatic to you as breathing air. That is true charity. Few of us can claim to have reached that level. It is a difficult thing to do in such a materialistic world. Yet it is something that we should aim for as we grow our spiritual side.
Charity of Nature
The charity of nature is so automatic, no one even thinks of it as charity. The grape vine doesn’t set any requirements before you can pick some of its grapes. Nor does it have any expectation of a reward. The same is true of the apple and fig trees.
On the other hand, when we do help ourselves to nature’s bounty, we should mentally thank the grape vine or apple tree for feeding us. It sends them positive energy which does benefit them and they may return positive energy to us which will also benefit us. But again, nature is not requiring or expecting us to do this.
But as we are part of Nature, at least physically, we must follow the same rules. We should be helping nature, not destroying it. We should accept with gratitude the bounty of nature rather than creating horrid mutations that can be owned by greedy and soulless corporations. It has been prophesied that because of the way we have treated nature, a day will come when none of natures food will be edible. Those grapes and apples will rot and turn sour in our mouths. Let’s do our best to keep that prophecy from happening.
That say that charity begins at home. Whether true or not, we do need to be charitable with ourselves. None of us is perfect, so we have to forgive our mistakes. But we also have to learn from them. We need to give ourselves the opportunities to do better rather than just sulking because we have failed at something. As another old saying goes, the only ones who never fail are the ones who never try to do anything. Have inner charity and try again.