An ordained monk Isaiah Dhammananda travelled the seven seas, nicknamed The Prophet, it was rumoured that she had magical powers of curing the sick, several witnesses have seen her walking on water. In her 10 years of begging for alms, she has seen all sorts, the worst were the ones who came to her for enlightenment and never did make a donation, they emphasised how important enlightenment was, how important she was to them, until they had to put their money where their mouths is.
Suddenly she fell from their pedestal, a pedestal she didn't even wanted to be put on, in one moment she knew them, in the same moment she wished she didn't as well.
Their mouths never stopped, the pockets also never emptied. Maybe if they emptied their pockets, their mouths would stop, she often pondered musingly.
It fascinated her for years how they didn't recognise this dichotomy within them, that the things they need and the things they wanted can be different, they often put what they wanted above what they needed, they were willing to pay for a head of broccoli, they knew the price of broccoli, they would be willing to pay for a flashy new car, they knew the price of a new car but they cannot peg a price on enlightenment because "it's priceless" they tell her.
The broccoli she can understand, she liked broccoli too, the new car was a want not a need, that much was clear to her.
Love is also priceless they think, therefore why so many abusers around, because love can easily become an excuse for not doing anything in return for anyone, you're SUPPOSE to love me, right? Who is suppose to love who, who love who more is a never-ending question that can tie you into knots.
She laughed at this because after 10 plus years she too cannot figure this out, it's a maze and a puzzle, it's a maze within a puzzle.
If so, how can she herself determine if she was offering value, since there is no value to base on, no one really knows, it's taboo to talk about it also. They would talk about enlightenment, service and love for humanity all day long but when it comes to parting with a dollar, all shrinks to nothing, to see if someone is indeed enlightened, does serve genuinely or does have love, talking about money was the fastest way to see it, the process of letting go or earning money tells all.
Some say they're broke, none were as broke as her, none of the donations were hers, she literally have nothing, except the robes on her back, a simple place to sleep and simple food to eat, all was by grace. The funds were managed by a committee, used for the upkeep of the temple first and second for basic living needs for the monks.
They also didn't wake up at 6am, end the day at 11pm, none worked as hard as her. She sometimes felt thankful precisely because of this, since they were too cheap, a good amount took and never gave, she considered it a miracle that she still had food on the table, the temple kept going and she still had shelter.
The rich ones always snorted when the broke ones said that, they too noticed they didn't work as hard as them, this wasn't a maze within a puzzle, it was lacking diligence, it was a simple matter of laziness or so it seems.
"But but" some complained, "I helped many people isn't it?" These were the holier than thou ones, they did get something in return, feeding a superiority complex. They think their altruism deserved higher virtue points than others, they were greedy in their own ways, not money greedy, they were greedy nonetheless but as long as they weren't THAT kind of greedy, they couldn't see it.
She gathered the group of disciplines one day, the capitalists, the broke and the volunteers, the capitalists had no issues talking about money, they saw it as a form of freedom, poverty was of course great suffering, ask anyone desperate to make ends meet, they will tell you they kept their integrity, not like you would know it because they're invisible in a commercialised world unless they can be successful, the lack of material resources cannot sustain their altruism anyway, it does nothing but comfort them and the few they allow near them. Especially the rags to riches capitalists knew this, they have been there and they're glad they got out of there.
They seem puzzled why anyone would work for free, they were willing to make large donations at a go, they can't afford the time or energy to volunteer physical or emotional labour though, they saw it as parting with what they can, in a way they want.
The volunteers despised them more than the capitalists looked down on them, the capitalists spoke about reality, the volunteers spoke about aspiration, the broke just complained, they always complained.
A capitalist spoke boldly, he said, "it's good to dream, everyone does and can, everyone should as well, only a few make it a reality, that is the hard part."
Unbeknownst to them, he was well respected as an ethical boss, his success meant he could hire tens of thousands and this made him proud. He made sure he paid a fair wage, actively identified capable people ready for promotions, his company culture is top notch in the industry, he made sure HR kept a watchful eye over sexism, racism, ageism and much more.
Moral outrage spread like uncontrollable wildfire amongst the volunteers, there was an uproar, imagine this, all these altruistic people getting agitated about money. Several were flippant, others were accusatory, some were jealous, others were legitimately curious, how to get out of the web of money?
The ones who don't help often have meaningless lives so they can spare the energy to complain the most, the ones who do help are too busy to let others know they're doing it. They have highly satisfactory meaningful lives and need not prove it to anyone, they also have no time and energy left to convince people as well.
So people assume no one is helping, assume they're the only ones, they live in a bubble of me me me and me, they're as blind to themselves as they're blind to others. Being honest about their financial desires sounds as demonic as being dishonest about it, it's two sides of the spinning top coin, the sun and the moon, the world doesn't stop moving, money is but a tool to set people free.
Art of Isaiah found here.
Art by Lucy Evans
Disclaimer - inspired by them, this is fiction based on true stories with mucho creative liberties taken.