On reading the intro to Access To Insight, I discovered that one of the first things the Buddha did with new students was bring out their generosity. One sutra on the subject states,
Without abandoning these five qualities, one is incapable of entering & remaining in the first jhana... the second jhana... the third jhana... the fourth jhana; incapable of realizing the fruit of stream-entry... the fruit of once-returning... the fruit of non-returning... arahantship. Which five? Stinginess as to one's monastery [lodgings], stinginess as to one's family [of supporters], stinginess as to one's gains, stinginess as to one's status, and ingratitude.
I consider myself a pretty generous person, I’ve done things like making a €1000 donation to a charity or offering a bed to a friend in need and I often donate my time to charitable projects, but when looking at these five attributes I find it quite difficult to connect real world behaviour with the attitude of generosity.
How do you express your generosity?
The Paramita of Generosity
By Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
The practice of generosity is to give what is worthwhile and to give it with non-attachment. This can be studied through three main aspects: giving things, giving loving protection and giving loving understanding. The teaching on the first of these, material generosity, explains what is proper generosity and what is improper. We should abandon improper generosity and practice the proper one.
Motivation is very important when we give. If we give with a wrong motivation, such as making gifts which we hope will harm others or which we intend to bring us fame, or if we give with an inferior motivation such as through fear of future poverty, then that is improper. What we actually give is also important. A Bodhisattva should never give what is harmful, for instance, when he gives something suitable it should be generously, not meanly. To whom we give to is important - always pandering to the wishes of the crazy and the gluttonous would not be proper generosity. Finally, how we make our gift is important. The Bodhisattva avoids reluctant giving, angry giving, disrespectful giving and scornful, derisory giving, all of which are improper.
Proper generosity is to give whatever we have and there are many wonderful, inspiring stories of great Bodhisattvas who have given their own flesh to nourish starving animals. Whatever we can manage to give we give to those who need it, paying particular attention to help those who represent the Three Jewels, those who have helped us - our parents especially - whose who are sick and unprotected, and also those who are our particular enemies or rivals. The way in which we make our gift to them should be joyfully, respectfully, with a compassionate heart and without regret. It is better to give with one's own hand rather than through others, to give at just the right time, and, of course, to give without harming others. Impartial giving is best and a wise person gives just what is needed.
The second form of generosity is to give our loving protection to those in fear: in fear of others, in fear of sickness and death and in fear of catastrophe.
The third form of generosity is to make the priceless gift of Dharma. This does not mean indiscriminately preaching to anyone and everyone. It means helping those who have respect for the Dharma, for the truth, to understand it. With a very pure motivation, we should humbly and compassionately pass on the authentic teachings that we ourselves have understood well from a proper teacher. The thing to avoid is a mixture of personal opinion and the classical teachings and, of course, any sort of self-centred motivation. The truth is something both rare and precious and deserves to be talked about in a pleasant way and in a proper place. The classical way to give teachings is well discussed in the Sutras and, in a general way, we should know better than to jumble Dharma with worldly conversation.
These are the three basic forms of generosity. It was the first of the paramitas to be taught by the Buddha because it is one of the easiest to understand and everyone can practice it. It is also the foundation for the other five paramitas.
This is generosity from Tai Situ Rinpoche one of the crown jewels of the Kagyu Lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. It just borders on being too long, but i feel it covers generosity pretty well.
give a buck to gas station charity box and tip waiters. practice becomes habit,kinda automatic. my field of activity --paramita--of generosity.after all,a bodisatva want to be.
Practise random acts of kindness. Whenever possible, anonymously.
There is also the question of whether this is guidance for monastics or laypeople. Laypeople live in the marketplace, and so there are different considerations about material things and being able to care for oneself. While monastics don’t own so much and are perhaps more concerned with being generous with effort and time.
Anyway I find it interesting, at what point do you consider yourself generous. It probably varies from person to person, and what culture you are part of.
I knew I was doing it wrong. Where is the fun in that? Obviously the more people know how generous we are the better. They will be inspired by our awesomeness, we will be regarded as a filanthropissed philanthrowprized generous awesome bodhi. ?
Please send donations to hashtag awesome-lobster-generous in the form of:
It is a win-win situation ... perhaps ... ?
Sorry @federica ... I must try harder
Maybe I can be sponsored?
I live pretty frugally and don't generally have much excess money, but I usually give away things I don't use anymore rather than trying to sell them. I feel like I am generous with my time, I'll help others if they need it. At work I'll take care of small little things for my customers without charging and generally do my work with a spirit of being helpful rather than making money.
I like what @Tsultrim posted that included generosity of loving understanding. I've never thought about that as an act of generosity, but I think I generally try to do that, or at least aspire to it.
Good discovery. It often surprises people new to Buddhism that, just as charity plays a big role in Christianity, the Buddha placed a lot of importance on dana or generosity as well. Generosity arises out of wholesome mental states, and gives rise to a number of benefits on its own: "A giver, a donor is dear and beloved by many people. Good people associate with them. They get a good reputation. They don't neglect a layperson's duties. When their body breaks up, after death, they're reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm" (AN 5.35). And one can be generous in many ways, with money, time, wisdom or whatever else they might possess. In addition, generosity is considered a requisite for spiritual development. I've always found it interesting that the Buddha begins most of his discourses on the gradual training with teachings on generosity, and I think that's because an open and generous mind is one that's more receptive to teachings that ultimately revolve around letting go.
I try to express my generosity by giving whenever someone asks and I have it to give, by occasionally giving to non-profits and good causes, and by always trying to be aware of the needs of others and doing whatever I can to help. A friend needs money for rent. A co-worker needs a hand doing something. Buying a concert ticket for a friend who'd enjoy it. Making dinner for my girlfriend. To me, it just means thinking about others.
Practice makes perfect ... including to remember that as surely as there is generosity in the universe, so there is greed and grasping ... you know, the ones who play the generous ones for suckers.
There are many ways I express it, however it' would seem the main way is by giving time through patience ...
This has occurred to me. Some time ago there was an incident, where a woman pulled up next to me on her bicycle, I was walking, and asked me if I was a decent human being. When I replied that I was, she told me a story about lending a friend money and now being short for her rent, and asked me for €10 (about $12). Now I could have refused her, but I didn’t, I opened my wallet and gave her the money.
The thing is you don’t know why people do things. Maybe they do genuinely need that money. All you know for sure is what’s going on inside, and sometimes it’s better to just give.
I found this as part of Access To Insight’s introduction to the buddha’s teachings, and thought it was worth quoting here...
I find it such a beautiful path, it resonates strongly with me although I still feel conflicted about love and the natural direction of human development.
sharing with karome.some homeless people and i together have a vibe. some laugh at me.it's dao thing i sense.unexpected money gift,recieve a hug.what stuck with me was when he said,your my brother.getting wet eye about it.being homeless is rough.
@ Paulyso, sweet story. Down here they are always being moved around, bad for the tourist trade, and locals complain about thievery etc. Some of them have mental issues and some have addictions and some are just regular people who can' t keep up the pace. They are developing areas with places for them to stay. I suspect it will give the cops leverage when they are somewhere they don't want them.
Whatever the case, they should all be cared for, no one should have to suffer as they do. The poor you will have with you always, to paraphrase Jesus. He knew there are no permanent solutions in the relative world.
Monastics give the gift of the Dhamma. According to the Lord Buddha, the greatest gift of all!
Well, certainly a few of them do, those like Ajahn Brahm who give dhamma talks to which lay people listen.