Having compassion for and wanting to help living beings is not necessarily in itself a virtuous thing. You must also have the correct motivation when you help living beings. There are two types of acts you can do to benefit sentient beings: those done with an awakened mind and those done with a mind that is not awakened. Acts done with an awakened mind are done spontaneously and from your innermost being. There is no external motivation. It is an extremely natural act and there is not consideration of any reward. Acts done with a mind that is not awakened refers to benefiting sentient beings only because doing so is somehow related to your own vital interests or because you are coerced into doing so by others, by law, by established rules, etc. The motivation for such acts is neither natural nor pure.
For example, it is merely superficial practice if you make donations when you are miserly or resentful of making the donation, although even superficial charitable activities do in fact bring about some merit and will bring about limited karmic rewards. However, any wrongdoing done in conjunction with such charity will likewise have its karmic retribution. “Spending money to eliminate calamities” is a wrong view and not a correct understanding of the law of cause and effect! One must practice charity with an unconditional, unlimited state of mind and not have worldly and selfish motives, such as greed for worldly benefits. The amount of karmic reward from charity depends upon the mentality and conditions of the person who is giving and is not a function of the amount or type of gift. One should perform more and more meritorious deeds but should not be attached to such deeds. Only when one performs meritorious deeds with the mindset that doing so is simply part of one’s original nature, is one truly performing more meritorious deeds! It is futile, however, to perform meritorious deeds if one continues to commit evil deeds.