Generosity which results in a non returner

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Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Prasadachitta » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:53 pm

Hello fellow Buddhist,

I was reading through this sutta( AN 7.49Dana Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an07/an07.049.than.html) because out of curiosity I was exploring the ways which post death abodes are described and what leads to them. It describes differing attitudes behind generosity and the corresponding type of dwelling which they lead to.

So...

Im interested how you read the last attitude of generosity which is characterized by the thought "This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind". How do you think it is distinctly different from generosity characterized by the thought "When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise"? Apparently when one gives with the former attitude it results in a non returner but not with the latter.

What are your thoughts on this?

Metta

Gabe


"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.
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:20 pm

Seems people are at a loss....

who will break the silence? :D
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby jackson » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:38 pm

The way it looks to me is that one is invested with self view, and the other is not, although I could be wrong. By the way, hi everyone! I've been reading this site for a while and thought I might as well contribute for a change.
Metta, :smile:
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:12 pm

Welcome!
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:15 pm

Gabe, did you read this?

Translator's note: This discourse discusses the motivations one might have for being generous, and rates in ascending order the results that different motivations can lead to. The Commentary notes that the highest motivation, untainted by lower motivations and leading to non-returning, requires a certain level of mastery in concentration and insight in order to be one's genuine motivation for giving.
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Sekha » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:30 pm

Well I'll try my best, hoping it might help:

It seems the difference is in the mental volition.

The one giving with the thought 'When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise' is still acting in the perspective of getting something in return, i.e. a worldly gain. So he produces a wholesome sankhara which is grosser than the other one, and thus gains less benefits.

The one giving with the thought 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' (btw Bhikkhu Bodhi writes instead: 'because it ennobles and adorns the mind' [Numerical Discourses of the Buddha n°162 p.213]), generates a finer sankhara and does not look for any kind of worldly reward. If we take BB's term 'ennobles', that would mean he rather gives to become more noble, which is a supramundane motivation. So it contributes to non-creation of gross sankharas and the volition leads towards liberation, whereas the other ways of giving lead only towards a life in higher planes, or less than that.
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:18 pm

I was thinking the same, more or less.

The line is ascending, as the translator said.

From stage to stage the motives become more selfless, more Noble and purified of personal benefit and Ego.

I also had initial trouble in understanding "ornament", thinking: wouldn't that be a form of decoration? Vanity? But if you think of it as an "adornment" for a mind to be selfless, pure, yes, it sounds fine.

It probably means that it is an outstanding quality of the mind.

If a mind is selfless, or thinking of others first, it is a beautiful mind.

It allows compassion to arise generously.
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:56 pm

Greetings Gabe,

The dana is tainted to the extent that greed (e.g. "I want to be reborn in heavenly realms on account of this offering", aversion (e.g. "I will give, but this monk is not really worthy of my offerings" or delusion (e.g. lack of mindfulness during the preparation and offering of the dana) taint one's mind throughout the process.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:05 pm

Hi Retro,

is the suttha only speaking of giving to monks?

What is meant by "contemplatives"...? :thinking:

Metta,

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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:13 pm

Greetings Anna,

Contemplatives is a more generic term that I believe can include wanderers of other sects.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Sekha » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:38 pm

the pali term is samaṇa, often used as samaṇabrāhmaṇā and often translated as 'contemplatives and brahmins'. It is indeed a generic term including bhikkhus, jain ascetes and clothless wanderers (Ājīvikas).

So yes, it is obvisouly meant for monks, because they are the people for whom the dana gives in return the highest gain. But it doubtlessly applies to any kind of gift.
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:17 am

Hi Retro, Ana, and, Dukkhanirodha,

Im am interested in this idea of "Super mundane motivation". It seems to me that making the mind serene, gratified, and joyful are key aspects our practice. My understanding is that these aspects are important conditions but not ultimate ends in themselves. In this Sutta the Buddha is speaking to a group of lay followers and I expect that his words were meant to be understood on a practical level. I mean that the Buddha intended his words to create an impression of meaningful distinction for those who have not seen his truth for themselves. Do you think that characterizing a type of generosity with the attitude 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' is meant to convey something like generosity with an attitude which does not look for an end but is aware and appreciative of progressively supportive spiritual beauty?

Metta


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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:54 am

Greetings Gabe,

I think the general rule to be drawn from it is that the purity of the mind in relation to the offering (action / kamma) determines the quality of the result (vipaka).

Nothing really new here in terms of a standard kamma teaching, merely that it's being applied here to the action and result pairings that can be associated with dana.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:35 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:the pali term is samaṇa, often used as samaṇabrāhmaṇā and often translated as 'contemplatives and brahmins'. It is indeed a generic term including bhikkhus, jain ascetes and clothless wanderers (Ājīvikas).

So yes, it is obvisouly meant for monks, because they are the people for whom the dana gives in return the highest gain. But it doubtlessly applies to any kind of gift.


Actually, the Buddha replies to a question of giving in a general way.

And actually, I read an explanation -I think by Thannisarro Bikkhu, in any case it was on Accesstoinsight, -that when the Buddha adresses listeners, he does use the term "monks", but actually means all those present, including laity, so it should be understood as "dhammafriend".

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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby fig tree » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:13 am

gabrielbranbury wrote:How do you think it is distinctly different from generosity characterized by the thought "When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise"?

This sounds a lot like what people I know often say about charitable donations: "It makes you feel so good." I think some attachment to good feeling is involved.

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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Annapurna » Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:39 am

Hi, figtree! :hello:

Your avatar is a bit large and so I can't read your posts too well...

Can you shrink it? If not, I'd be willing to do it for ya. :namaste:

Metta,

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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby chownah » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:43 pm

What does, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' mean?...it is the thought which the Buddha recommends upon giving.
Canonical references and personal views are welcome.
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Prasadachitta » Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:55 am

chownah wrote:What does, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' mean?...it is the thought which the Buddha recommends upon giving.
Canonical references and personal views are welcome.
chownah


Thank you for simplifying the point of the post Chownah

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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby Sekha » Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:04 am

chownah wrote:What does, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' mean?...it is the thought which the Buddha recommends upon giving.
Canonical references and personal views are welcome.
chownah


as written above, BB tanslates:
it ennobles and adorns the mind

which might give you a clue already.
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Re: Generosity which results in a non returner

Postby chownah » Mon Mar 01, 2010 2:20 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
chownah wrote:What does, 'This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' mean?...it is the thought which the Buddha recommends upon giving.
Canonical references and personal views are welcome.
chownah


as written above, BB tanslates:
it ennobles and adorns the mind

which might give you a clue already.

Well I'm not sure if its a clue or not. To say that it "adorns the mind" is just another way of saying that "this is an ornament for the mind".....it really doesn't explain it but just restates it in another similar way. To say that it "ennobles the mind" is good but just what does that mean?...odd that the Buddha didn't say "ennobles the mind" if that's what he meant and even so what does it mean? I'm still wondering what "support for the mind" means.

I guess if there was any Canonical reference to this stuff someone would probably have produced it by now...but maybe not. Without a reference I guess its all just personal views on this which is too bad...I guess....its kind of a puzzle...
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