Give a Fish or Teach to Fish

March 7, 2013 • Insights on Life, Learn

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Well we all know the old saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you feed him for life”.
This evening I was at a subway station here in New York City and an old Indian lady wanted me to help her through the turnstiles. She held her MTA (subway) card in her hand and asked if I could swipe it for her. I said no. Tough love I know. I just got back from India and having been at the Kumbh Mela festival with 30 million Indians who had no one to help them my perspective on things have changed for sure. Back to the subway. I swiped my MTA card while asking her to watch. Now you do it I said.

She tried but swiped too slow and it did not register. So she handed the card to me with a “please help an old lady” look and smile. I smiled backed and said no. I gestured to her to do it again. She tried again and failed. Too slow. She handed the card to me again and I said no without a smile this time. I motioned to her to swipe faster this time. She tried. Failed. Repeat attempt to get help. No. Now she realized she was not going to get any help from me and she actually attempted to try to swipe like I showed her to. And it worked. The turnstile accepted her swipe and she had a big smile on her face.

Now she’ll never need anyone to help her with this again.

Lesson to learn from this experience. Don’t let people use you as a crutch. Teach people to lean on their own spine. That is how you can truly help them. And learn to lean on your own spine as well.

Gurudeva, my loving guru, said once. “Don’t lean on me. If I go away you’ll fall down.”

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