Generosity, or dana, lies at the very foundation of Buddhist practice. As vipassana teacher Gil Fronsdal writes, “the Buddhist path begins and ends with this virtue.” In the following section, Gil Fronsdal, Professor Dale Wright, and the Buddha himself teach on this transformative practice so central to all Buddhist schools.
We invite you to read more about the practice of generosity in a free e-book available to Tricycle Community Members at tricycle.com.
The Treasure of Generosity
These five are a person of integrity’s gifts. Which five? A person of integrity gives a gift with a sense of conviction. A person of integrity gives a gift attentively. A person of integrity gives a gift in season. A person of integrity gives a gift with an empathetic heart. A person of integrity gives a gift without adversely affecting himself or others.
—Anguttara Nikaya 5.148
So when the world is on fire
with aging and death,
one should salvage [one’s wealth] by giving:
what’s given is well salvaged.
What’s given bears fruit as pleasure.
What isn’t given does not:
thieves take it away, or kings;
it gets burnt by fire or lost.
—Sutta Nipata 1.41
Even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or a
cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, “May
whatever animals live here feed on this,” that
would be a source of merit.
And what is the treasure of generosity? There is the case of a disciple
of the noble ones, his awareness cleansed of the stain of stinginess,
living at home, freely generous, openhanded, delighting in being
magnanimous, responsive to requests, delighting in the distribution
of alms. This is called the treasure of generosity. —AN 7.6
A gift of dhamma conquers all gifts
—Dhammapada XXIV. 354
These are the five rewards of generosity: One is dear and appealing to
people at large, one is admired by good people, one’s good name is spread
about, one does not stray from the rightful duties of the householder, and
with the break-up of the body at death, one reappears in a good destina-
tion, in the heavenly worlds. —AN 5.35
Translations by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Available for free at accesstoinsight.org
Image 1: Photograph by Ahyndraya Parlato
Image 2: Photograph by Olivier Follmi