Thursday, June 23, 2011

D A N A 
( offering of food to monks )
29th JUNE 2011

A L L   A R E   W E L C O M E

GIVING (DANA) by Visu**

DANA is a Pali word that can be translated as giving, generosity, charity, and liberality. 

It occupies an important part in the Buddha's teaching, which is often formulated under three headings — dana, sila, bhavana (giving, morality, meditation or mental cultivation). That dana is one heading underscores its importance. Buddhists should take heed and cultivate a good spirit of dana.

It is a first step towards eliminating the defilement of greed, hatred and delusion (lobha, dosa, moha), for every act of giving is an act of non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion. When you give you have loving-kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) in your heart. So at that time greed, hatred or ill-will, and delusion would be absent.  

"Giving" is a word that has very wide connotations. It does not mean that you give only to monks. It does not mean that you give only expensive things. And it does not mean that you give only material things that cost money.

For you can give many immaterial things which may count even more than material things. What I mean is that when we are kind to each other, we are giving kindness, gentleness, comfort, peace, happiness, etc. So we can give by being kind. For example, we can lend a sympathetic ear to a troubled person, listen to him (or her) with compassion and give him comfort and encouragement.

To the troubled person, your giving time to listen to him is more important than if he were to receive a material gift. So when we are living in a community, we should cultivate care and concern for each other, reaching out to help whenever we can. Then we give more kindness by speaking gently, soothingly, not harshly or angrily. This can bring much cheer to people, as the following poem shows: 

Loving words will cost but little
Journeying up the hill of life
But they make the weak and weary
Stronger, braver for the strife
So, as up life's hill we journey
Let us scatter all the way
Kindly words, to be as sunshine
In the dark and cloudy day.

When we bring happiness into the lives of others, we are giving in a very meaningful way. In this context, giving would mean more than just giving material things. The attitude involved is also important. 

** Visu (shortened from his full Pali name Visuddhacara) has been practising the Dhamma and meditation since 1982. He was born in Penang, Malaysia, in 1953. He was a journalist for 12 years and a Buddhist monk for 17 years before he returned to the lay life in 2003. He has studied with several meditation masters, notably Sayadaw U Pandita, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Sayadaw U Jatila and Ven Sujiva. He is married and has led retreats in Asia, Australia and Europe. He is the author of several books including “Curbing Anger Spreading Love,” “Drinking Tea Living Life: Applying Mindfulness in Everyday Life and Critical Times”, “Loving and Dying”, “Hello with Love and other Meditations” and "Metta Meditation & Positive Attitudes"

Visu’s emphasis in his teaching is on the integration of the Dhamma in everyday life while striving for the ultimate release of Nibbana. He stresses the importance of cultivating lovingkindness, joy and happiness in the present moment while on our journey towards Enlightenment.