dana

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dana

Postby Dhammanucara » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:13 am

I heard from a dhamma talk that the Buddha extolled the virtues of dana, saying that dana is the starting pathway to goodness and the first step to perfect in order to achieve enlightenment. And, the merits gained from dana usually help a person to overcome obstacles and also bring close to him assistance, guidance, and benefators when necessary, according to the dhamma talk. Further, offerings should be made to those worthy of offerings, i.e.Sangha with a proper frame of mind in order to bring the highest merits. What if a person stays in an area where there is no Buddhist monks or temples to make offerings to? What alternative the Buddha would offer to a person of such situation? How about chanting the Buddhist suttas? Would this yield the same benefits as dana?

With metta,
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Re: dana

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:39 am

Hi
maybe this sutta would help?

AN 7.49 Dana Sutta: Giving translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Campa, on the shore of Gaggara Lake. Then a large number of lay followers from Campa went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there they said to Ven. Sariputta: "It has been a long time, venerable sir, since we have had a chance to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One's presence. It would be good if we could get to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One's presence."

"Then in that case, my friends, come again on the next Uposatha day, and perhaps you'll get to hear a Dhamma talk in the Blessed One's presence."

"As you say, venerable sir," the lay followers from Campa said to Ven. Sariputta. Rising from their seats, bowing down to him, and then circling him — keeping him on their right — they left.

Then, on the following Uposatha day, the lay followers from Campa went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. Then Ven. Sariputta, together with the lay followers from Campa, went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "Might there be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?"

"Yes, Sariputta, there would be the case where a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit."

"Lord, what is the cause, what is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit?"

"Sariputta, there is the case where a person gives a gift seeking his own profit, with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death.' He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp — to a priest or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this gift seeking his own profit — with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself, [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death' — on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Four Great Kings. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Then there is the case of a person who gives a gift not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death.' Instead, he gives a gift with the thought, 'Giving is good.' He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp — to a priest or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this gift with the thought, 'Giving is good,' on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Thirty-three. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead of thinking, 'Giving is good,' he gives a gift with the thought, 'This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Hours. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Contented Devas. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past — Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, & Bhagu — in the same way will this be my distribution of gifts'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who delight in creation. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead... he gives a gift with the thought, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise'... on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who have power over the creations of others. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

"Or, instead of thinking, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,' he gives a gift with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind.' He gives his gift — food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp — to a priest or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?"

"Yes, lord."

"Having given this, not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], 'I'll enjoy this after death,'

" — nor with the thought, 'Giving is good,'

" — nor with the thought, 'This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued,'

" — nor with the thought, 'I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off,' nor with the thought, 'Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past — Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, & Bhagu — in the same way this will be my distribution of gifts,'

" — nor with the thought, 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,'

" — but with the thought, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' — on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma's Retinue. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.

"This, Sariputta, is the cause, this is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit."
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: dana

Postby Kenshou » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:44 am

As far as I know, dana, and generosity in general, is beneficial because it helps nurture in us mental traits that incline to non-greed, to letting go, helping to weaken the clinging, greedy mind that would not be as receptive to learning the Dhamma.

The giving offerings to people worthy of it is a practical consideration, support those who are worthy and knowledgeable, which helps them continue to teach and help others, and contribute to the larger benefit of the whole. So in that sense, in giving to those who are skilled in the Dhamma, you are indirectly contributing to the benefit of others. But that doesn't mean we should only show generosity towards those sorts of people, we ought not do exclude anyone. And also, wouldn't you think that people would be more willing to help out a person who they know to be generous? I don't think it's a case of kamma somehow causing us to run into a good teacher or whatever when we need it, but if the situation arises and we do need it, being a person of good standing will certainly help when searching about for one.

If you don't have anyone like that to give offerings to, you can still get the benefits of training your mind to incline towards generosity and letting go, as well as the benefit of others, by simply working to be more generous and kind to the people that you are involved with in your everyday life. This is how I see the issue.
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Re: dana

Postby SDC » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:05 am

From my understanding and research, dana is more than just giving to monks and the Sangha. It is all giving. It is all acts of sacrifice and generosity. To anyone. You can do that anywhere.

Edit - The most merit will be earned in giving to monks and the sangha which is most likely why it is the most commonly discussed aspect.
Last edited by SDC on Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: dana

Postby Bankei » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:01 am

It is interesting how some monks like to encourage dana to the sangha. In Thailand you see monks with so much food collected on Bindabhat that they need 2 or 3 men to help carry it all back to the temple. You see lavish temples with poor people living opposite unable to afford to buy medicines.

At my local temple in Thailand, they consructed a nice new Bot, or Ordinaiton Halll. It is only used once a month for Patimokkha recitation and for the odd ordination here and there. The cost of construction was in excess of 20,000,000 Baht. One of the Chandeliers cost more than a house. The Abbott has also purchased a brand new 4WD vehicle so his driver can drive him to his various meetings. Now he wants to raise money for a crematorium because that will bring in even more money to the temple from funeral donations. Opposite the temple are families who are very poor. One guy I know looks after his grandson who has some serious problems. His mother tried home made abortion medicines while he was in the womb, it didn't work and as a result he has many medical problems. He is 4 but weighs less than 10kg. He needs some sort of operation (which I will pay for), but he needs to put on more weight before it can happen. There is also another intellectually disabled woman up the road who keeps getting pregnant due to various men taking advantage of her. Her poor old mum is looking after her kids too, but very poor.

But you get more points for giving to monks who already earn more money than a man working 10 hrs a day on constructon would get (maybe 6,000B per month).

Also, what about all the Haitians lying under concrete.
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Re: dana

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:27 am

Attachment to immoral deeds is more difficult to renounce than attachment to material things. Therefore, observance of the five moral precepts is more meritorious than giving material things.

Attachment to sensual pleasures is more difficult to renounce than immoral deeds. Therefore observance of the eight precepts and practising tranquillity meditation is more meritorious than observing the five precepts or giving material things.

Attachment to self-view is more difficult to renounce than attachment to sensual pleasures. Insight meditation leads towards the renunciation of self-view, therefore practising insight meditation is more meritorious than giving material things.

See also the Kutadanta Sutta in the Dighanikāya.
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Re: dana

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:05 am

Hello all,

It is the responsibility of the lay people to give appropriately and support the Ordained Sangha. The Ordained Sangha ought to practice diligently for Liberation and give teachings to the Lay people.
Each group depends on and assists the other group.

Lay people ought not to support monks who are not strictly following the Vinaya. I think I have told the story before of being in Bangkok, and going out to give alms with a group of Thai lay people. As the Bhikkhus passed along the street, the lay women would give a Wei in invitation, the monk would pause, food and requisites would be put into his bowl, he would chant and move on. Thinking I was getting into the swing of it, I saw a monk on the other side of the road and began to give a Wei. The lay women made hissing sounds at me while looking at the ground. They whispered "bad monk, bad monk" and said nothing more. He did not come to us and continued on his way along the road.

At Dhammagiri near Brisbane, we have a monthly roster of lay people who have asked to be able to support the monks. The monks come down from their kutis in the forest on Alms round to receive food Dana at 10.30 a.m. each day from Lay people. The Bhikkhus chant and go to eat, finishing completely before noon. The Lay people also go and eat from the remainder of the Dana offering. Then we return to the DhammaSala, and receive a Teaching and have our questions answered.

On the rare occasion when lay people have not arrived with the food Dana - the bhikkhus do not eat until the next day. This actually happened when we had some very senior monks in the Forest Tradition staying with us after the World Abbots Meeting - they had come over from Thailand on their way back home. They took it in good part - it must have happened occasionally to the Buddha and his monks as well.

with metta
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