Others Before Self: Feeding Oxford's Homeless, Part II
When I first met Yeshi in India he was sharing a room with a friend in central McLeod Ganj. It was a very humble abode with two single beds in it and a small kitchenette, but no bathroom. You had to go outside to find the toilet, a shared hole in the ground, and shower, a separate room with a tap in it, which had hot water if you were lucky.
All the appliances in Yeshi's small room had been given to him by a friend, Gyaltso, who had left McLeod Ganj for Delhi. Gyaltso no longer needed the few possessions he had called his own when had lived in McLeod, so he passed on his fridge, pots, and pans, beds etc. to Yeshi. No money changed hands.
And so it was that when Yeshi left India for the UK, he passed these items on to the next person in need. In Tibetan culture those who have give to those who have not. It's a simple transaction that might sound over simplistic, but it is real, the system works, and nobody questions it.
In fact, the rent on Yeshi's place in McLeod Ganj was being paid, at the time I met him, by his brother, who was living in New York. This money also stretched to pay for Yeshi's roommate, who had recently moved to McLeod Ganj without work or any possessions of his own.
Those who have give to those who have not. Or, to quote the mantra painted in large letters on the wall at the McLeod Ganj Tibetan Children's Village (a school founded by Jetson Pema, the sister of the present Dalai Lama), "Others Before Self".
Also painted on the walls of the school is the sign "You Can Make a Difference".
In Tibetan society, which is devoutly Buddhist in outlook, kindness and compassion are the qualities that are valued above all others. By taking the time to consider the needs of other people, and to care for those less fortunate than ourselves, you can make a difference.
This Christmas, there are many people sleeping rough on the streets of Oxford. We have already documented what Taste Tibet does for the homeless community here. Last week, That's Oxfordshire TV made a film with us at our stall that gives airtime to our efforts:
It's all an extension of how life is lived in Tibet and within Tibetan communities wherever they are now placed around the world.
Our stall in Gloucester Green on Wednesday 20th December is our last for 2017. If you can't catch us this week, we will be back on Wednesday January 3rd. Wishing everyone a very merry, stress-free Christmas characterised by largesse and good will!