Topic 1a: Generosity

Dāna, giving

First of the Pāramis/Pāramitās, Perfections

“Bhikkhus, if beings knew, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would they allow the stain of miserliness to obsess them and take root in their minds. … as beings do not know, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they eat without having given, and the stain of miserliness obsesses them and takes root in their minds.” – Itivuttaka 1.26

Universal, easily comprehended even by children, immediate reward, lifeblood of Buddhist

“Without abandoning these five qualities, one is incapable of entering & remaining in the first jhana. Which five? Stinginess as to one’s lodgings, stinginess as to one’s family, stinginess as to one’s gains, stinginess as to one’s status, and stinginess as to the Dhamma.” – AN 5.256

Similarly: second, third, fourth jhana, stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, awakening.

“Whatever joy there is in the world
Arises from wishing for others’ happiness.
Whatever suffering there is in the world
Arises from wishing for your own happiness.” – Shantideva

Two Practices of Giving

Intention (karma)


Offering kindness (mindful), relinquishment delight, contentment, jhana, attainments
Receiving worthiness, gratitude (mindful) honor, humility

Socially fruit: cooperation, harmony. Skillfull receiving consummates offering, is itself an offering.

An exchange is karmically neutral

Americans tend to be unskillful in receiving

  • Conceptualize gift as exchange, receiving as a debt, or
  • Feel demeaned, or
  • Trivialize value of gift.

Giving is lifeblood of Buddhist community

  • Monastics live entirely outside of exchange economy
  • Formalized in offerings to Buddha, Sangha
  • Generalized beyond the temple gates

Audio 10/13/2013


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