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Thread: Giving as "a basis of merit".

  1. #1

    Giving as "a basis of merit".

    This is an excerpt from an essay from the Access to Insight website:


    The Practice of Giving

    by Susan Elbaum Jootla


    (The inspiration and basic material for this essay come from The Perfection of Generosity (Dana Parami), by Saya U Chit Tin [.......])


    "Giving (dana) is one of the essential preliminary steps of Buddhist practice. When practiced in itself, it is a basis of merit or wholesome kamma. When coupled with morality, concentration and insight, it leads ultimately to liberation from samsara, the cycle of repeated existence. Even those who are well-established on the path to emancipation continue to practice giving as it is conducive to wealth, beauty and pleasure in their remaining lifetimes. Bodhisattas complete the danaparami or perfection of giving to the ultimate degree by happily donating their limbs and their very lives to help other beings.

    Like all good deeds, an act of giving will bring us happiness in the future, in accordance with the kammic law of cause and effect taught by the Buddha. Giving yields benefits in the present life and in lives to come whether or not we are aware of this fact, but when the volition is accompanied by understanding, we can greatly increase the merits earned by our gifts.

    The amount of merit gained varies according to three factors: the quality of the donor's motive, the spiritual purity of the recipient, and the kind and size of the gift. Since we have to experience the results of our actions, and good deeds lead to good results and bad deeds to bad results, it is sensible to try to create as much good kamma as possible. In the practice of giving, this would mean keeping one's mind pure in the act of giving, selecting the worthiest recipients available, and choosing the most appropriate and generous gifts one can afford.

    THE FACTOR OF VOLITION

    The volition of the donor before, during and after the act of generosity is the most important of the three factors involved in the practice of giving: "If we have no control over our minds we will not choose proper gifts, the best recipient..., we will be unable to prepare them properly. And we may be foolish enough to regret having made them afterwards."[1] Buddhist teaching devotes special attention to the psychological basis of giving, distinguishing among the different states of mind with which one may give. A fundamental distinction is made between acts of giving that lack wisdom and those that are accompanied by wisdom, the latter being superior to the former. An example of a very elementary kind of giving would be the case of a young girl who places a flower on the household shrine simply because her mother tells her to do so, without having any idea of the significance of her act.

    Generosity associated with wisdom before, during and after the act is the highest type of giving. Three examples of wise giving are: giving with the clear understanding that according to the kammic law of cause and effect, the generous act will bring beneficial results in the future; giving while aware that the gift, the recipient and the giver are all impermanent; and giving with the aim of enhancing one's efforts to become enlightened. As the giving of a gift takes a certain amount of time, a single act of giving may be accompanied by each of these three types of understanding at a different stage in the process.


    Continues at the link


    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/.../wheel367.html

    Any comments? What are your thoughts about this section below? and if this is "wise giving," are there any benefits from spontaneous giving without any plans to receive personal "merit" for one's act of giving?



    "Three examples of wise giving are: giving with the clear understanding that according to the kammic law of cause and effect, the generous act will bring beneficial results in the future; giving while aware that the gift, the recipient and the giver are all impermanent; and giving with the aim of enhancing one's efforts to become enlightened."



  2. #2
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    We are what we think and do, or at least become what we think and do. Dana is an important element of this as it reconnects with how we evolved to be a cooperative species. We are hard wired to help each other, but convinced by society that we are in competition.

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    As long we give without any attachments to gaining from it and no expectation to receieve something back from it, that is a pure way of giving.
    When being fully in the moment of giving and be selfless that is giving with the heart and not the mind :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cultivator View Post
    As long we give without any attachments to gaining from it and no expectation to receieve something back from it, that is a pure way of giving.
    When being fully in the moment of giving and be selfless that is giving with the heart and not the mind :)
    It's an interesting point and a continuing discussion at the Buddhist centre. Does it matter why you give at the start if the act of giving eventually brings about suitable changes? Some used to argue that, as you say, it has to be given in the right way. Others claimed that it didn't matter as the act of giving, for whatever reason, brought about changes. For me I guess the speed of changes would be faster if the giver gave mindfully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    It's an interesting point and a continuing discussion at the Buddhist centre. Does it matter why you give at the start if the act of giving eventually brings about suitable changes? Some used to argue that, as you say, it has to be given in the right way. Others claimed that it didn't matter as the act of giving, for whatever reason, brought about changes. For me I guess the speed of changes would be faster if the giver gave mindfully.
    Giving in it self is not always giving result in change for the one who give, but to the person recieving it can have a great inpact on how this person can continue living. But the one who give will gain virtue.
    Knowing that one has no attachments to objects or food that is given does also make it more easy to give more then "expected"

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    Generosity and giving to others is something that should be in the lives of all of us. But in my opinion, it's something that should spring from our own volition, not something that will be rewarded by "merit". In this respect, I agree with the writer who says:
    Charitable actions undertaken to gain a good reputation are also selfish and hence not a very valuable kind of giving. Nor can it be praiseworthy when one gives merely to return a favor or in expectation of a reward.
    But the writer goes on to say that:
    The worthier the receiver, the greater the benefits that will come to the donor; hence it is good to give to the holiest people available.
    and
    ...the people of Burma, who buy the best fruits on the market as gifts for the monks although these fruits are much too expensive for them to consume themselves.
    The cultivation of merit has really become debased into something akin to one of the present-day schemes of "loyalty points" offered by the giant retail stores. It's sad to see this doctrine being promoted by teachers and academics. With their accumulated wisdom and knowledge, can they not show a better path towards nibbana?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodscooter
    The cultivation of merit has really become debased into something akin to one of the present-day schemes of "loyalty points" offered by the giant retail stores.
    Striving to achieve personal merit "brownie points" can even become a cause of suffering for other life forms and the environment. The practice of "Life release" is an example which comes to mind:

    https://www.buddhismwithoutboundarie...logical-Crisis

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    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Gaving with the understanding that giving is beneficial is an example of harmonious action, action which is beneficial to all affected, both the giver and the recipient, right action.

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