Thread: Generosity/Dana/Selflessness and Family

  1. #1
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    Generosity/Dana/Selflessness and Family

    I have a question concerning the general attitude of generosity as a Buddhist practicioner, within a family context.

    My situation is that we are supporting my wife's family financially, quite substancially. This creates/d a kind of depencency on our support (dana), as there is no other source of income at the moment for them (the father, mother and sister of my wife). But sometimes the money requirements/demands (medical expenses, school fees, etc.) get so high that my own family (my wife and I, and our little daughter) run into financial shortcomings in some months.

    What are your thoughts/recommendations?

    On the one hand, generosity is a virtue, and teaches us non-attachment and compassion.

    On the other hand, I feel I have to also protect my own well-being (and happiness) of me and my immediate family. But I then also struggle with the guilt of cutting the financial support to the extended family...

  2. #2
    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
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    That’s quite a quandary. I was recently on the other end of this same issue. Due to illness, I was unable to work. My wife’s family stepped in and helped out. It was greatly appreciated.
    However if it is causing you financial issues then you may have to cut back on your Dana.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Tobszn View Post
    I have a question concerning the general attitude of generosity as a Buddhist practicioner, within a family context.

    My situation is that we are supporting my wife's family financially, quite substancially. This creates/d a kind of depencency on our support (dana), as there is no other source of income at the moment for them (the father, mother and sister of my wife). But sometimes the money requirements/demands (medical expenses, school fees, etc.) get so high that my own family (my wife and I, and our little daughter) run into financial shortcomings in some months.

    What are your thoughts/recommendations?

    On the one hand, generosity is a virtue, and teaches us non-attachment and compassion.

    On the other hand, I feel I have to also protect my own well-being (and happiness) of me and my immediate family. But I then also struggle with the guilt of cutting the financial support to the extended family...

    Hello Tobsen and welcome to BWB!

    Isn't there a Social Security/Welfare system in your country?

    If your wife's family have no source of income then they need to contact their nearest social security office, or maybe you could ask for some advice there yourself.

    Other than that, as I don't know anything about you or your family, or your wife's family, I don't feel able to comment, sorry.


    Wishing you all good health and happiness,

    Aloka

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post

    Isn't there a Social Security/Welfare system in your country?

    My in-laws life in South Africa, and the social security system is very limited, so that they are quite dependent on our financial support for their lifelihood. My sister-in-law would be able to work, but is struggling to find work, although she has a truck drivers licence, etc. ...

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    also, as a general question:

    What if I cut my dana, if I get the impression that my dana is exploited, and/or taken for granted...? and/or creates a dependency or expectation towards me as a dana-giver?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tobszn View Post
    also, as a general question:

    What if I cut my dana, if I get the impression that my dana is exploited, and/or taken for granted...? and/or creates a dependency or expectation towards me as a dana-giver?
    If you and your wife think that your financial contributions towards the living expenses of your wife's parents and sister are being exploited, then if you're not able to visit them, perhaps you and your wife could try discussing their circumstances by phone, the internet, or letters, and re-evaluate the situation.

    If they are very poor, I think perhaps you could explain that your own funds are limited but still help them when you're able to, because it could make their lives a llttle more bearable.

    Life is brutal in some parts of the world and many kind people, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike, try to give some support to their families (and to others) when its needed.



    PS

    Its possible that you might find some helpful advice in the section on family life in "A Constitution for Living" by the well-known Thai monk Ven. P.A. Payutto:

    https://www.scribd.com/document/7838...ng-P-A-Payutto

  7. #7
    The Buddha said :


    “Mother and father as the east,
    Teachers as the south,
    Spouse and family as the west,
    Friends and colleagues as the north,
    Servants and workers below,
    Brahmans and ascetics above;
    These directions a person should honor
    In order to be truly good.

    “Wise and virtuous,
    Gentle and eloquent,
    Humble and accommodating;
    Such a person attains glory.

    “Energetic, not lazy,
    Not shaken in misfortune,
    Flawless in conduct, and intelligent;
    Such a person attains glory.

    “A compassionate maker of friends,
    Approachable, free from stinginess,
    A leader, a teacher, and diplomat;
    Such a person attains glory.

    “Generosity and kind words,
    Conduct for others’ welfare,
    Impartiality in all things;
    These are suitable everywhere.

    “These kind dispositions hold the world together,
    Like the linchpin of a moving chariot.
    And should these kind dispositions not exist,
    Then the mother would not receive
    Respect or honor from her child,
    Neither would a father.

    “Upon these things
    The wise reflect;
    They obtain greatness
    And are sources of praise.”


    https://suttacentral.net/en/dn31



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