Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Gratitude and Gratification

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice.
Better than knowledge is meditation.
But better still is surrender of attachment to results,
because there follows immediate peace.

— Bhagavad Gita
(thanks to Greg for this reminder!)

Last night, I watched the new reality show on Fox TV called, “The Secret Millionaire.” I have to admit that I am old enough to remember the old 1950s CBS show, “The Millionaire,” which followed a similar line: an uber-rich person disguises themselves and then drops a pile of money on someone they have observed and deemed worthy.

In this new incarnation, each week, a different multi-millionaire goes undercover into the most impoverished and dangerous towns in America. Their job is to spend one week living on about $100, while meeting as many people as possible to identify those who could most benefit from their charity. On the final day, the “secret millionaire” meets with their chosen recipients, reveals his/her true identity, and hands them a check that is going to change their lives forever.

So in last night’s first episode, an obscenely wealthy attorney (specializing in home foreclosures, of all things!) and his privileged teenage son move into a $57 a night dump in impoverished Imperial Beach, CA. Their small stipend quickly disappears, forcing them to go find unskilled hard labor to keep from ending up on the street.

Welcome to the real world, folks.

Not surprisingly, this is an eye-opener for them, and they appear to undergo a transformation in their attitudes about their relationship to those less fortunate.

The second episode’s millionaires were sent to a small town in Louisiana that is still in ruins (speaking here just yesterday of Hurricane Katrina). However, they did not seem to have been so deeply changed by their experience. (Perhaps because somehow, they did not have to work or get their hands dirty. Instead they were shown driving around in a huge SUV (that stayed mysteriously gassed up), interviewing the locals and squirming in discomfort over the shabby trailer they were given).

In both stories, at the end, the millionaires don their $2,000 suits and Vacheron Constantin watches and reveal their true identities to the unfortunates they’ve been hanging out with (and who have also been generously sharing what little they have with the imposters).

They sooth their duplicity by offering huge checks which will change forever the lives of those they have been observing. Then we, and the millionaires, get to watch the recipients fall to pieces in gratitude.

To me, these final scenes were contrived and creepy. And they emphasized to me how much more powerful and beautiful anonymous acts of kindness can be. While the final scene is meant to be dramatic and tearful, I think it also takes a real swipe at the recipients’ dignity, while returning the rich folk safely back to their comfortable thrones.

Tomorrow, I’ll have more to say about this, and about the power of anonymous kindness. But for today, might I suggest another way to spread some Grace and light?

How about leaving a book you’ve enjoyed in a place that someone might find it and read it? You could pick a place where it might be especially appreciated – like a waiting room, the DMV, or at a restaurant. You might want to avoid leaving it at an actual bookstore or library (so as to avoid confusion), or at an airport or other place that is skittish about finding unattended items.

If this sounds familiar, it might be due to the wildly popular Bookcrossings, which is the “read and release” practice started by Ron and Kaori Hornbaker in 2001. Their purpose is primarily to track the criss-crossing journeys of pass along books.

Your main intention, of course, is to treat someone to a little kindness.

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  • December 4, 2008, 11:13 am Lynda

    Right-On Sistah. I saw the preview and didn’t watch, as I consider it the worst kind of exploitive Bullshit – not to put it mildly. Makes me sick to think there would be a tv program like that. Actually, “reality” tv is junk tv, at least for me.

  • December 4, 2008, 12:55 pm Beth Owl's Daughter

    Usually me, too.. but I was hoping (I know – naive!) that maybe it would tackle some of the issues around money and also the power of kindness itself to transform lives..

    Oh well!

  • December 4, 2008, 8:49 pm Brian

    Nice posting. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?

  • December 5, 2008, 3:35 am Mouse

    We have a similar series in the UK Beth, I think I watched maybe the first couple of episodes. Found some of it quite cringe-worthy to be honest. One thing I think it did do though was show the integrity of those involved and usually those who had nothing, seemed to me to be the more generous and kind souls.

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post 🙂

    x Mouse

  • December 5, 2008, 5:43 am ARIE

    Hi Beth,

    Thank you again for the wonderful work you are doing.

    To hand out money does not help anybody. What is necessary is to help people stand on their feet by themselves. By teaching them to grow their own food. By helping them to learn a new profession.
    A teacher of mine when he handed out money in the street to somebody in need, would ask the person “Is this all you need?”.
    He would say it in a state of self awareness. It was not mechanical. It had an effect. The message got through.

    The best example of a rich person that made a great change to himself was Francis of Assisi. I wonder if any of these rich people would ever be able to to this. I believe if such a decision is consciously made, it would lead to the highest level of self awareness. The ability to change and become something else consciously is very powerful. It applies not only for the rich/poor issue.

    Anonymous kindness is a very powerfull practice. Once while I was parking my car, someone who was leaving offered me his parking ticked which was valid for another hour and a half. I could feel him radiating with energy and happiness. So I used his ticked for about 20 minutes. When I was about to leave I searched for another person that could still use the additional hour. I found one and gave her the ticked. She was very happy. One may say this is not really anonymous, but I did not know these people and did not expect anything in return. But there was an interaction, a chain of kindness between all of us. It felt good.

    Thank you for your suggestions. I will try them.

    Let us smile to all people we meet.


  • December 5, 2008, 6:11 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Ha! Arie! As usual, you and I are on exactly the same wavelength! Check out my post for today (Friday)!


  • December 5, 2008, 6:16 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Hi, Mouse! Good point. In fact, I believe the U.S. show is based on the UK original.

    I am going to give it one more chance next week; maybe it will get better. There is so much potential in this idea..