A Week for Dana Parami

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:32 am

I’ve been thinking about dana parami and my practice and have come to the point where random acts of generosity, though fulfilling, don’t seem adequate in my mind. I have played with the idea of not turning down a request ofr charity or help before but, to be honest, I have always considered the sphere of dana to be outside the home. Somehow it just doesn’t seem right that my wife and children be the recipients of my dana since it is my duty to provide for them anyway. I’m not sure what the hang up is but I think some of my resistance is due to the fact that I’m afraid that I will be taken advantage of and end up doing more than “my fair share”of work in the home if I were to seriously try to apply this practice behind closed doors as well as to the world beyond my doorstep. Obviously there is something wrong with this dichotomy so I am making the aditthana to practice dana parami wherever I am despite how physically, emotionally and psychologically taxing it may be. For this entire week I will not turn down any request for anything in my power to give from anyone in my life whether they be a stranger, my first-born or a long-lost friend. I’m sure there will be a lot of mistakes and missteps but I’m interested to see how the mind reacts toi this practice. I’ll try to post again and let you know how it went next Sunday.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:00 pm

Nice volition and a very difficult one indeed, but in Dana the purity of receiver and the purpose is also equally important. In one of the suttas Buddha states that in a previous birth he donated continuously for several years but all that generated lesser merit than what one time meal to a sotapanna would have.

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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Hanzze » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:41 am

Of cause Parth, but actually that is a pretty beloved excuse also. Not lost any doubt now, we are not really able to know what it means by "purity of receiver" and as long as we live in a circle of direct inter-playing dependency in our relationships, it would be strange to start letting go not at that place where we are.

Of cause there are even people who don't need to practice Dana but to come to this point one needs to let go of a lot first. To make our Dana practice round is the very first step into Dana.

If we start with thinking what would be the best Dana to make for the most effective gain, we actually totally miss the point. When we do it right there where we would never think that it would be useful, than we are right on the track. It's all about losing some amount of greed hidden in hypocritical thought.

It's quite difficult to find the middle of providing what supports our security and what endangers our security. Mostly it needs to step to abstain from providing support of what seems to be security and to put more into what endangers our security. One day we will see that it's the opposite and that is the time when we start to see the middle path and also the time when we will start to nourish what walks the correct way to let it grow.

Think of no more having something to share, would you have the trouble of acting wrong? It's easy to share things if we see them as given and you don't need to fear that those around you might be not worthy of it. They would simply not stay, would not be next. Would you walk with a "loser" to get a big share? Some do and actually gain a different big share.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:57 am

Great thread, KB. I wish you all the very best with your noble endeavours.
I look forward to hearing how your week progresses.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Jun 13, 2012 8:38 am

@Parth

Thank you for your comments and you are, of course, spot on. Rather than focus on the efficacy of the dana per se I wanted to undertake this practice to see and feel the resistance in giving in order to truly understand it.

@Hanzze

Thank you for your thoughts. I think I understand most of what you're saying although I'm not sure what is meant by your comments on finding the middle of security.

@Ben

Thank you and I'll let you know how it goes.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:13 pm

Dear KB,

I agree what you are doing is very good, infect in manual of excellent man, Ledi Sayadaw states that bodhisattvas gve without worrying to whom it is being given, whoever asks is given and that is the highest form of giving.

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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:18 am

parth wrote:Dear KB,

I agree what you are doing is very good, infect in manual of excellent man, Ledi Sayadaw states that bodhisattvas gve without worrying to whom it is being given, whoever asks is given and that is the highest form of giving.

Regards

Parth


:anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Hanzze » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:47 am

Dear Khalil Bodhi,

I guess the article The Lessons of Gratitude is good to understand the generosity and kindness we need for a wealth society and the aspects of Dana which are actually beyond this.
While for example Asian people tend to provide a health but also incredible bounded relationship network incl. also the Sangha (incredible caught in the misunderstanding of demand and dept, forgetting the way out), where all is a matter of giving and taking, western people tend to settle their obligation outside of the daily community (which is often a runaway when responsibilities according to what we take are not taken).
Actual the second is more in line of what make a society more free if it is done rightly, but it can also produce additional bounds which may be additional irritations. We need to be very careful that our Dana is really Dana (letting go without any hope of a reward).

That is also the reason why people having lot of understanding in Dhamma a seriously practicing it, do not have a easy life when the surrounding does not follow or understand the ways of letting go but requesting a direct equivalent of what they see as an scarify.

I guess the most secure and best way is, to induct those around one self as best as possible and make Dana to an collaborative action. Otherwise there will be conflicts and bad conscience as well. It is not an easy way to teach others that generosity has only positive effects if it is an expanding spiral and we can easily build up additional demands and dept.
That is why I told it is not easy to find the middle or a health way for all. Dana in a worldly manner gives us worldly secure. Dana in a real letting go manner, as a tool to step deeper into Dhamma beyond the mundane live gives real security.
I guess if it becomes more and more to a question between those both its good to turn on the Sila screw, than we do not have to think to much about our Dana work any more.

It's not only difficult to give without wishing something back, but the point comes that it is also difficult to give not back in the way people would usually expect. Than it is the question: "Can I get through it, am I honest in the way I do?" Actually it's a natural Dhamma force to climb up the next stages.
Here the sutta which Path was maybe referring to comes into play: Velāma Sutta: About Velāma (Even highest dana is "only" one of 10 wholesome deeds; also here one can see that Dana was a family-head thing and not that much a personal thing, as we are used today; if we are not the head we can do our best for our head. For sure it's not easy today. *smile*)
The more one becomes to somebody in Dhamma, the more he will provide a possibility for Dana for others which gives additional push we might "misuse" also in the direction back.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:37 pm

It's been a week now so I'll report how it went. Despite not always being able to live up to the ideal of freely giving whenever asked I discovered a hidden well-spring of resistance, resentment and ill-will that was surprising in terms of it's strength and complete irrationality. In this regard my week devoted to Dana Parami was a great success. Just seeing the resistance and acting from an intention to help myself and those around me may not eradicate the aversion but it certainly sows seeds for a more skillful character on the future.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Ben » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:40 pm

Well done, KB. I rejoice in your meritorious acts of kindness and goodwill.
I hope your actions will inspire others to practice dana.
with metta,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:52 pm

Thanks Ben! :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=148031379279&v=info
Kiva-Theravada Buddhists:http://www.kiva.org/team/theravada_buddhists
Dana on the Interwebs:
http://greatergood.com
http://freerice.com
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Re: A Week for Dana Parami

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:35 pm

Dear KB,

More than just the meritorious deeds, really want to congratulate you on being able to observe the resistance and ill will when u go for doing some generous act. It is actually akin to what saint Kabir used to say : I went out to find the devil but did not find any, when I saw my own mind, no bigger devil than me.

Kudos to you.

Metta

Parth
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