Generosity. . .

“If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared, if there were someone to receive their gift.” – Buddha

The practice of giving, or dana in Pali, has a pre-eminent place in the teachings of the Buddha. When he taught a graduated series of practices for people to engage in as they progress along the path, he always started by talking about the importance and benefits of the practice of generosity. Once a person had awakened, the Buddha often instructed him or her to go out to benefit others, to be of service. Service can be seen as an act of generosity, so the Buddhist path begins and ends with this virtue.

There are two ways of understanding generosity. One is as a spontaneous and natural expression of an open mind and open heart. When we are connected wholeheartedly with others and the world, it is not a matter of deciding to give; giving simply flows out of us. This type of generosity is, for example, the generosity of a mother with her children. The second way of understanding generosity is as a practice itself, which we can undertake even though it may not automatically be flowing out of us.

Buddhist teachings emphasize that the manner in which we give is as important as what we give-we should give with respect, with happiness and joy. When we are practicing generosity, and it does not bring happiness and joy, we should pay close attention to our motivations for giving, and perhaps even re-evaluate whether to give at all.

The freedom of the Buddha is the freedom from all forms of clinging, and the most obvious antidote to clinging is letting go. Because giving certainly involves letting go, it develops our capacity to relinquish clinging. However, the practice of giving entails much more than letting go. It also develops qualities of heart such as generosity, kindness, compassion and warmth. Thus, giving leads us to the heart of Buddhist practice, while helping our practice to be well rounded and heartfelt.

Peace and Love, Jim

#generosity #thedailybuddha

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