In Theravada, all the lay practitioners start with dana [perfection of giving] and then sila [ethical precepts], and the next step, which is crucial, is bhavana—meditation. These are all interrelated. If you want to be an engaged Buddhist, if you only practice dana, you become a goody-goody. You must go further. With sila, the emphasis is how not to exploit yourself and how not to exploit others....Sila and dana work together. With bhavana—whatever you do, be mindful. Be engaged. Without mindfulness, you can become very angry, greedy, very deluded. You may feel, "Oh, I'm a Buddhist now, I can do all these good things." That's very egoistic. Ultimately, a Buddhist should work toward selflessness.
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