I posted the following on Ask Scooby:
How do you respond to people walking up to you and asking for a dollar and such? Do you? Do you tell them you have no money? Do you tell them “I won’t help enable an addiction but I can buy you a sandwich”? Do you direct them to the nearest homeless shelter and/or soup kitchen? Do you carry extra protein bars to give to the needy? Something else?
Not sure if they’d like me to copy-paste their words from a private site to a public blog, so I’ll only bring out my later replies:
Good idea to be honest and tell them you won’t hand over money. (Would hate to potentially enable addictions.) I think I will just carry protein bars with me on the off-chance I encounter another, and if I’m not on the way to work or something listen like Darren suggests. Seems like the most moral things to do without leaving oneself too open to being taken advantage of…
By the way, in case anyone’s wondering why I suddenly wondered about beggars… my usual modus operandi has been to just tell them I have no money and stay polite and try to get away from them ASAP. But yesterday it happened again and afterwards I suddenly realized I had not only broken the Fourth Precept* but violated the Third of the Eightfold Path**.
But not only that I figured I’ve been a selfish asshole about the subject of beggars anyway, despite being able to say “well this one time I gave a crippled veteran a $20”. Plus I realized I had judged based on appearance and behavior — he didn’t “look” nor “sound” like my preconceived idea of how a beggar “should” look/act/etc. That reveals all manner of prejudices on my part! Well at least this event made me self-evaluate, and all that.
* ie “I vow to abstain from false speech”, ie not just lying but “false speech” also includes that which that is abusive and divisive, and to avoid the likes of idle chatter, gossip, backbiting…
** ie “Right/Complete/Perfect Speech”, ie speak at the right time, in truth, affectionately, beneficially, and with a mind of good-will. And also no false speech. Again. Speaks volumes that “no lying” is doubly-emphasized! For the person who transgresses in one thing, I tell you, there is no evil deed that is not to be done. Which one thing? This: telling a deliberate lie.
*** Last time I went to that Tibetan Buddhist retreat they compared every meritorious deed to a small pile of straw and every bit of evil to a lit match, meaning all it can take is one foul act to ruin all your accrued good karma!
By the by, something else to consider that I found via Googling the subject of beggars and you:
Dakkhina Vibhanga Sutta
Or, if I’m reading it right from searching those words in WisdomLib.org, “The Thread* on the Honorable(?) Giving of Gifts”
* most ‘scriptures’/stories/dialogues in Buddhism are called ‘threads’ or ‘strings’ for some reason
(?) according to this, if I’m reading it right, Dakkhina literally means “to give” but has connotations of it being a consecrated, honorable act… I think?
Ananda, there are these fourteen individual gifts (cuddasa pāṭipuggalikā dakkhi). What are the fourteen?
1) One gives a gift to the Tathagata, the arhat [worthy one], fully self-awakened one—this is the first individual gift
2) One gives a gift to a pratyeka Buddha—this is the second individual gift
3) One gives a gift to an arhat disciple of the Tathagata—this is the third individual gift
4) One gives a gift to one on the way to realize the fruition of arhathood [an arhat-to-be]—this is the fourth individual gift
5) One gives a gift to a non-returner—this is the fifth individual gift
6) One gives a gift to one on the way to realize the fruition of non-return [a non-returner-to-be]—this is the sixth individual gift
7) One gives a gift to a once-returner—this is the seventh individual gift.
8) One gives a gift to one on the way to realize the fruition of once-return [a once-returner-to-be]— this is the eighth individual gift
9) One gives a gift to a streamwinner—this is the ninth individual gift
10) One gives a gift to one on the way to realize the fruition of streamwinning [a streamwinner-to-be] —this is the tenth individual gift
11) One gives a gift to one outside (the path) who is free from sensual pleasures—this is the eleventh individual gift.
12) One gives a gift to a virtuous worldling—this is the twelfth individual gift
13) One gives a gift to an immoral worldling —this is the thirteenth individual gift
14) One gives a gift to an animal—this is the fourteenth individual gift
In this regards, Ananda, having made a gift to an animal, one may expect a hundredfold gift. Having made a gift to an immoral worldling, one may expect a thousandfold gift. Having made a gift to a virtuous worldling, one may expect a hundred-thousandfold gift. Having made a gift to one outside (the path) who is free from sensual pleasures, one may expect a hundred-thousand times a hundred-thousandfold gift. Having made a gift to on the way to realize the fruition of streamwinning [a streamwinner-to-be], one may expect boundless, immeasurable gift. What more to speak of a streamwinner? What more to speak of one on the way to realize the fruition of once-return [a once-returner-to-be]? What more to speak of a once-returner? What more to speak of one on the way to realize the fruition of once-return [a non-returner-to-be]? What more to speak of a non-returner? What more to speak of one on the way to realize the fruition of arhathood [an arhat-to-be]? What more to speak of an arhat disciple of the Tathagata? What more to speak of a pratyeka Buddha? What more to speak of the Tathagata, fully self-awakened arhat, ripen in an incalculable way?
How interesting that this echoes what Wiccans believe: that any spell cast is returned three-fold against you, so it behooves you to behave yourself. But I digress.