A Bible Verse That Changed His Life
Feb 20, 2015
I recently met Dr. Ha Vinh Tho. He has started many organizations, like Eurasia in Vietnam for developmentally challenged communities, now helps run the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan, and has been a long-time meditation teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. In passing conversations, he would often share great experiments from his life.
At one point, a small group of us were going around a circle talking about the spirit of gift. "Many years ago, when I was in Switzerland, about 40 families experimented with shared living expenses. We would put all our income together in one account, and withdraw whenever necessary," Dr. Tho said. Really? "Yes, it was part of a movement called CampHill. You know, one thing it we all started doing was sharing everything we had, because it was all going out of the common pot." Back in 1939, an Austrian pediatrician named Dr. Karl König fled Nazi annexation and started a CampHill community for special needs children in Scotland, with the idea of encourage people's abilities, not disabilities. Just as "theosophy" means wisdom of God, Dr. Konig was inspired by Rudolf Steiner's idea of anthroposophy -- “wisdom of the human being”, a kind of science of the spirit. While not every CampHill community did such monetary sharing, there are now more than 100 such communities in 22 countries. And, how did it work out, financially? "Oh, we always had left over. And another one of our rules was to give away whatever extra we had, at the end of the year. So we gave lots of money, and supported some great causes over the years," Dr. Tho said with an exuberant joy. They had to stop after 12 years, though, when the Swiss government informed them that such kind of sharing was illegal. :)
During another lunch conversation, Dr. Tho told me how, in his youth, he traveled from India to Austria without any money. Like Satish Kumar? (Turns out they know each other quite well.) What prompted that? Well, one day, he happened upon the Bible and ended up reading a few verses that profoundly hit home for him. Right after, he sold all that he had, gave away all his money, and started traveling without any resources. When I asked him about the Bible passage that changed the course of his life, and he pointed to Matthew 6, verse 25 to 28:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Thanks for the inspiration, Dr. Tho!