Homelessness & smartphones

Stemming from the discussion from It was not my fault!:

This comment led to the below replies which, while interesting, were considered to be so off the original topic that they have been split off into this new thread.


What does this say about us, that we can give people a phone, but not a roof over their heads?


The market forces have thoughtlessly driven smartphones to be smaller and the tech less expensive while driving up the house prices so that house owners (and estate agents, governments, etc) reap the benefits. The problem in UK is that social housing hasn’t kept pace with the population increasing. Someone turning a blind eye? Theresa May, Prine minister has to now face up, to the disparity (not necessarily her or the party’s fault, but UK politicians focusing on short term and perceived vote sensitive policies).

With metta


I think that’s the problem with our current democratic systems everywhere. They are more concerned with the votes in the next election than with long term planning and wellbeing for the population.

There was a homeless man in the news some years ago because he started a blog from the computer in his local library : https://thehomelessguy.wordpress.com/
He has not written for the last year so I hope he has now found a home.

Ayya Yeshe frequently remarked that the people in the slum all have mobile phones and are on Facebook, but hardly have a roof over their heads.


These kind of things are non-existent in my country too (eastern european one). It’s the first time in my life I hear of such things. Why exactly would you feel bad for being a woman or a man ? What country are you from ? Are you from USA and it might have something to do with the type of feminism present there compared to european version of feminism ? Does this have to do with protestant religion from your country ?

I hope I don’t start a political debate or somethimg. I’m asking because really I don’t understand why one would feel bad for being a woman or a man and I am curious where does this come from if this story is indeed genuine.

Phones that can access the internet are very inexpensive now -compared to a house. The woman in the radio programme said she had a basic phone. A bit like those black iron alms bowls during the Gotama Buddha’s time, I suppose!

Gender is not important. Its natural to feel compassion when someone is in trouble, and potential danger as is that case with homelessness. Sexual attacks are very common if you are homeless and a woman, AFAIK.

with metta

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Hello friends,

This is a beautiful thread and the recent comments, whilst very important in and of themselves, are a teeny bit off topic. Shall we get it back to beautiful and life changing experiences of Metta and insights into forgiveness?

With metta :anjal:


In Sydney, the situation has become truly shocking. It’s just a fifteen minute walk from the Parliament building to a park full of homeless people, some who have been there for years.


…um…Bhante @sujato …I think we must’ve posted at the same time…

Did you see the post I just got in seconds before you? :wink: :blush: :anjal:


Thank you @anon29387788, for the very friendly and considerate reminder! :anjal:


And thank you @Aminah for moving this very worthy topic into its own thread. :slight_smile:


Those homeless people look remarkably clean. If you want a shocking contrast, you should come to San Francisco where you have million dollar plus condo buildings rising up into the air with homeless tent encampments a block away. Parts of it are starting to look like a third world city. And that’s not to mention the opioid epidemic—they’re even having librarians trained to carry and use naloxone, a drug used for opioid overdoses.

And yes, you’ll see people begging on the side of the freeway off/on-ramp or street corners one moment and pulling out their smartphone the next.

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A friend of mine has been homeless for about 2 years. He’s been alternating between sleeping in his car and staying at friends houses. There is no way he would give up his smart phone, it is the only way he can have access to work. He’s a very good photographer and requires the internet to get clients.

Unfortunately, due to a relationship breakdown, massive debt and mental health issues he wound up in this situation. We do what we can to help him out with food and publicity for his business. The thing that has made the most difference is that he knows he can come down to the vihara when he needs people to talk to him who won’t judge him.

This is another tier of homelessness which seems to go unnoticed. People who are living in their cars and couch-surfing just to get by. It’s such a complex issue as many of these people have a combination of problems. Many of the agencies don’t seem to want to help people until they are actually on the street with nothing but the clothes on their back. This seems way too late. :frowning:


Yes, I have seen people with this same combination leading to homelessness. They may not be ‘street homeless’ but sometimes living in cars etc. I came close to being homeless when I first came to UK, come to think of it. A small unexpected glitch and the effect becomes devastating. Someone who is renting developing a mental illness (or a physical illnesses) that stops them from working can end up homeless. Equally a relationship breaking up, if the other partner was the breadwinner or owner of the house, could end up the same way.

With metta

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Hi dxm_dxm,

what exactly are you referring to by this? I guess it’s not about homelessness, so your post probably belongs somewhat in between this thread and the one where @Aminah has moved it away from. I’ll answer you here now.

Have you really never heard of people encountering violence in a sexualised context? I can’t imagine that there is a country in the world where this never happens. If you really didn’t have anything to do with this and never heard about it you are probably very lucky!

Even if it is more common for women and girls to encounter this kind of thing it also happens to men and boys. When someone experiences violence in a sexualised form it is very natural that they feel bad about their body, and bad about having this specific type of a body, female or male.

The main reason why we don’t hear more about these things is that usually the ones who experience it don’t talk about it - particularly because they feel ashamed! Those who do these things, on the other hand, do often not feel ashamed, although they are the ones who would have more reason to do so.

Just to give you a little illustration of what I am talking about, a story I have been told:

A woman is sitting in a bus on the window seat, and next to her sits a man. At some point she notices that he puts his hand on her knee which is clearly a sexual assault. And most women in that situation - including me, when only hearing the story - would react with a feeling of shame, they would try to move away from him as far as possible and wish to disappear in the corner next to the window - and especially they would hope that nobody sees it!

This woman also had this reaction first, but then she decided to do something different and acted very courageously!

She took that man’s hand and lifted it up over her head with her hand and said loudly so that everyone in the bus could hear it: “I’ve found this hand on my knee; does anybody have an idea to whom it belongs?”

Then the shame was with the person who it rightly belonged to!

But what I am telling here is probably not worth half as much as what @Aoife was sharing in her own thread - this deeply moving story about transcending her difficult experience and arriving at this deep sense of forgiveness and peace and so much metta! Why should this not be genuine?

If we let ourselves be inspired by these qualities and open our hearts to them we all can learn so much from this!


Dear @dxm_dxm & @sabbamitta,

Yes, as you point out Sabbamitta, I moved dxm_dxm’s comment somewhat in error, apologies. However, as you both in one way or another seem to recognise, the important issue you’ve taken an interest in, in a way doesn’t really fit in either thread. If you’d like to explore it further, please open a new thread giving extra special attention to the community guidelines as I’m sure we all feel it is a matter that needs to be treated with an especially high degree of care if it is to be taken further.

Much thanks & warm regards.


What is it about living in a city which makes people numb to the plight of those less well off- most cities have slums don’t they?

with metta

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Couple of thoughts:

From my own point of view, while the description ‘numb’ isn’t exactly wrong, it could give a misleading impression and I think maybe being a bit more specific about the feelings involved could be helpful. In my own case, I’d sooner describe it as ‘numb with a sense of absolute powerlessness’.

Familiarity and learned social conduct may also be issues.

In the first instance, your question reminded me of a discussion I had a while ago with a Finnish friend who noted that you had to work really hard to remain homeless in Helsinki and before long some social service agent would pick you up off the streets (this was over a decade and a half ago and it’s very possible things have changed). Fatal winter temperatures was given as one explanation at that time. Perhaps it was a mix of the extreme condition and the managability of the problem (given the tiny population) may explain a potential little variation in that particular city.

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A while ago, I came across a line in Bodhesako’s autobiography in which he describes his reaction to the misery and poverty in Calcutta - it succinctly captures the feeling of benumbed hopelessness.

When one person is drowning we might easily afford to help him board our raft; when there are millions we fear to be swamped by their numbers.

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Maybe because I am a man I can not really relate to that, or maybe it’s the different culture. Such a thing happening here, a man putting his hand on a woman knee, or a woman doing the same, would be taken as a kind of compliment by the man or woman. Even if she would be annoyed by that, it would still be seen as a compliment and something to feel good about. My country is not exactly like Russia when it comes to this, but pretty close. A popular russian saying is “if he beats you it means he loves you”. The attitude is very different here from protestant countries. People tend to focus on the positive aspects of such things, while in protestant countries they tend to exaggerate the negative ones.

As for when it comes to serious sexual abuse such as rape, then I can’t really comment on that. Still, I believe the person would blame that on the one doing the rape, not on himself/herself. If a more muscular man beats another man and robs him, it would be quite strange for that person to develop self-hatred that he is not muscular enough and things like that. Normally he would just blame the one who did it and have no problem with not being a Mister Olympia in terms of muscle. Though indeed I see how in some cases it could lead to feelings of self hatred. Still, in the case of a rape, a woman should normally develop self-hatred towards not being physically powerful enough to resit it due to the woman body, not hatred about the fact that she looks good.

Though indeed I understand what you mean and got the point so thanks for the explanation.