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  • For a while as a young woman I was a follower of the guru Baghwan Shree Rajneesh – later OSHO - a very smart man and good talker, who wonderfully combined ancient Hindu and Buddhist wisdom with modern Western psychology. But he did not want us to help the poor, the undernourished, and the desperate. He maintained that we “helped” and “did the good” for our own egos. Before helping others we needed to liberate ourselves from ego first.

    I guess he was right, but still: he lived in India and instead of helping the poor he bought 93 Rolls Royce with the ton of money his followers donated to his causes.

    How would the world be, if I had to be fully enlightened before I can give you a hand, be it out of whatever true intention?

    Buddhists say it is less important WHAT you do than out of which INTENTIONS you do what you do. I agree with that. Asking myself about my own innermost intentions I often discover vanity beside nobler motives, but in the end I am always telling myself stories about myself and never can be sure about how much truth they contain.

    When I was 6 years old and on a journey with my dad, he promised to buy me a certain doll. Later that day we spotted a homeless man, who asked us for money. I wanted to give him money. My father wanted to test me,” Kiki, do you want him to give the money that I have for your doll?” I did not hesitate. I agreed and gave up the doll. I am still amazed about my inner clarity at that moment. I was sad, because I had been dreaming about that doll for many days, but I was also so proud of myself, I was really happy that I, a little girl, had the power to help. I was happy that my father was proud of me. It all mixed and mingled.

    My father did not go and buy me the doll anyways and I am grateful for that.

    I have done political and social work and yes: I want to be able to see myself as a loving and caring woman, a woman I can love and respect myself. That is one big intention and I am not sure that it is free of ego. Probably not.

    I have also seen that doing good mostly has a lot of strings attached: if I succeed, my political party, religion or personal fame will grow. That is why with time I have retreated from NGO´s and groups, even though I am very happy they exist, they relieve many people, even though, their motives are often not the cleanest ones.

    A couple of years ago I met a pediatrician from a European country, we had a common friend. He had fallen in love with the Mayans; he was sick and tired of his easygoing life in his European city and wanted to really make a difference. He took a year off and built a center for children in a small community in the jungle, all with his own money. I know that he brought children to operations in the big hospital in Tuxtla, who otherwise would have stayed crippled or died.

    He tried to get the support of the local shaman and did not succeed.

    I asked a friend of mine, who is very close with that same shaman, why the relationship between the shaman and the pediatrician did not work.

    This friend answered me,” Over the years I have seen many foreigners come to the communities wanting to help. Mostly they carry hidden political, religious or sexual agendas and then it does not work.”

    Well, my pediatrician – friend did have a hidden sexual agenda, I discovered. He was in his mid – fifties, had just left his wife and four sons and come out as gay. Now, do not understand me wrong. We came very close and my friend did not at all look for sex in the first place, he fell in love here and there and everywhere without having the courage to really engage in real sex and committed the mistake to hand out money.
    He got so ripped off, you cannot imagine! When he noticed the abuse and stopped giving money he was threatened with guns and machetes. I was continuously worried for his life.

    He fled and now opens a café for gay Zapotec men in a community in Oaxaca.

    Yes, my friend is looking for love; he is searching for the ONE BIG LOVE OF LIFE and with soon hitting sixty and being gay time is running out.

    So: he had a hidden agenda and maybe was not even conscious of it. Does that take away from the benefit he brought to a handful of children, even if it just lasted about a year?

    A few weeks ago I met Sergio Castro, a man in his early seventies. Sergio is an engineer and vet, who single – handedly has brought drinking water to over 100 communities and built 35 schools here in the Highlands of Chiapas. He has a small museum in town, where he exhibits traditional Mayan dress and talks about Mayan customs and life. Tourist groups visit and leave donations. With these donations Sergio buys what he needs to cure gangrene and burns. Here many Indians still die from falling into the open kitchen – fire, sometimes they are drunk or have an epilepsy attack or it just is an accident. Sergio has saved countless lives.

    Where doctors want to amputate the limbs of diabetic patients - Mexico is number 1 in Diabetes in the world! - he goes day after day to the houses of the sick and cures the wounds until the arm or leg is finally healed. No doctor has the time to do this.

    Sergio does this for free, most of his patients are the poorest of the poor, and they pay him with a bunch of tortillas or a handful of eggs. He does not even drive, somebody has to drive him wherever he is needed and he has to pay that driver.

    I invited a group of people to watch a documentary about Sergio and invited Sergio to come and talk about his work so that we can find more funding and people to join him and perpetuate his work.

    Sergio hardly had any words. He could not at all sell or praise himself. He said he was fully aware that when he died this project of his would be finished. “I do what I do, because my heart tells me to,” he said,” This makes me happy!”


    He said it exactly right. This is it.

    My husband watched a movie the other day and told me the end. I do not remember the title or drama of that movie, but at the end, he says, there is a girl at a beach. The beach is full of millions of starfish, which for some reason the ocean has spit out. The girl walks all day long and takes one starfish after another and throws them back into the ocean.

    Somebody meets the girl and asks,” What sense does it make that you work so hard at saving a few of these condemned starfish? You can work non-stop and the majority of them will die anyways.”

    The little girl answers,” Yes, but for each starfish that I can return in time it makes all the difference!”

    I have decided to see these issues the way this little girl does.
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Thank you, San, for making me think about all this again and put it into words!

    Art by Kiki ("We Can All Be Angels To Each Other")

    Cowbird here

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