March 19, 2024

Spiritual Lessons From Beggars

Jacques de Villiers, motivational speaker in South Africa writes about beggars and spirituality.

Jacques de Villiers – writing quest: Article 47/365

I’m that guy. When I see that the robot is red I slow down so that I can catch it as it turns green. All in the effort to avoid the beggar. And, if I am confronted by the beggar (damn you red robot), I do that verkakte, patronising shrug and mouth, “Sorry, no money.”

Don’t get me started on shopping centre car guards. I’ve been known to leopard-crawl to my car to avoid being seen by one. I close my car door quietly and slink low into my driver’s seat. God forbid I alert the Velociraptor, and he chases me down.

Now I know that you’re not as crass, cruel and cowardly as me. You’re probably kind, courteous and generous. This article’s not for you.

My white guilt and privilege smacks me around the head. I feel sorry and sympathetic. I’m pissed off at a country that has allowed this travesty to happen for reasons we are all aware of. But, mostly, I’m irritated at the beggar/car guard for making me feel shit. 

I don’t feel shit any more after coming across a story by Carlos Castaneda. He was sitting with his spiritual teacher, the Yaqui shaman, Don Juan Matus at a restaurant in Mexico. They watched as beggars took scraps off the table after the patrons left. Don Juan asks Castaneda if he felt sorry for the beggars. Castaneda affirmed. Don Juan then asked him if he felt superior to them. Sheepishly, he affirmed this too. Then Don Juan asks him, “What makes you think that they haven’t found the path before you?”

Damn right. When it comes to matters of the soul, it doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or a street sweeper. We’re held to account equally. All that matters is how you conducted yourself here.

Have you ever asked, “Where are you God?” The answer will probably be, “I am here begging in front of you. I’m helping you reverse your car out of the parking space.” So, basically, he’s everywhere. This effectively means we should always be in a state of awe and gratitude every second of the day. 

And, if like me, you believe that we signed a soul contract of how we are going to show up in this world, then the beggar is where he is supposed to be. I appreciate being given a chance to show compassion and empathy, and to feel grateful that he is also participating in this game. 

He shows me my frailty. My vanity. My shame. My guilt. My anger. My kindness. My compassion. My love. He’s just doing his job. He’s allowing me to look at things that trigger me negatively so that I can let go of them. And, he’s allowing me to be generous and kind. And, most of all, he’s allowing me to see God in all his glory.

So, nowadays, when I don’t have money to give (or even if I do), I look at the beggar and think, “Wow my friend, you’ve chosen a hard path to play your part. It’s not a path I would have liked to sign up for. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to show you compassion and love. “I wish you abundance, today.”

“Thank you, God, for showing yourself at the robot today.”

We are all here for a purpose. Let’s honour that and play our role out to the best of our ability.

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