How do you practice dana & caga?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
starter
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How do you practice dana & caga?

Postby starter » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:11 pm

Hello friends,

I’ve learned very much from your “Dhamma dana”, and have found the answer to my questions "Why isn't dana included in the training of monastics?" and "should dana be included in the world-transcending path leading to liberation by lay practitioners?", after reading the sutta recommended by “Rowyourboat” :
http://www.vimokkha.com/velama.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Scale of Good Deeds (from low to high):
Give with right attitude and belief -- Give to the worthy recipients -- Sincerely taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha -- Sincerely undertaking the Five Moral Precepts -- Developing metta -- Cultivating the awareness of anicca (which will lead to the awareness of dhukka and anatta …)

Our cultivation of conviction, morality, metta (a mind of boundless lovingkindness), Samadhi and especially the insight of the 3 characteristics is the best and highest practice of dana, because they make us less and less a source of suffering/danger but more and more a source of happiness to the world. Developing metta (I understand as developing a mind of boundless lovingkindness instead of metta samadhi) & Cultivating the awareness of anicca are far better antidotes for greed/stinginess/selfishness than mundane dana practice, because these two practices are most effective and don’t have side effects (e.g. distraction). That’s probably why the Buddha didn’t include dana as a factor of the world-transcending path leading to liberation. He taught us: “the fruit of cultivating the awareness of anicca-even for the moment of a finger snap-would have been greater” (than all the other good deeds); “perception of not-self (anatta-sanna) appears to one who has perception of impermanence (anicca-sanna); one who perceives not-self removes ego conceit (asmimana) and experiences nibbana here and now (dittha-dhamma)"; “there is no higher practice than to see that "this is not my self and does not belong to me".

Having said that, of course we can still practice dana geared toward detachments, when the opportunity presents itself naturally, as Rowyourboat kindly advised.

Your comments and advice have been and would be most appreciated. Metta,

Starter

PS: the above understanding wasn't mature. My current understanding of the reason that the Buddha didn’t include dana as a factor of the noble path leading to liberation is because dana/caga has already been practiced by the noble disciples during the mundane path leading to the noble right view of 4NT. Mundane dana practice is necessary as an antidote for unrighteous greed/covetousness and for overcoming stinginess in order to enter jhana and the stream of N8P.

For more recent discussions on this topic see "The place of dana and caga in the path & its development" viewtopic.php?f=42&t=14220&hilit=+dana+caga

Added on 07/29/2013
Last edited by starter on Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:54 am, edited 4 times in total.

dhammapal
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Re: The best practice of dana – anicca and anatta

Postby dhammapal » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:33 am

Hi Starter, you might find these quotes interesting:
Mahasi Sayadaw wrote:Some people say that an intelligent act of dana must involve the contemplation of the anicca, dukkha and anatta of the donor, the recipient and the offering. This view is based on Atthasalini (a commentary on Abhidhammapitaka) which mentions the contemplation on the impermanence of everything after giving alms. But the reference is to contemplation after the act of dana, not before or while doing it. Moreover, the object is not to make the act intelligent but to create wholesome kamma in vipassana practice. If by intelligent dana is meant only the dana that pre-supposes such contemplation, all the other dana of non-Buddhists would have to be dubbed unintelligent acts and it is of course absurd to do so.

The accounts of alms-giving by bodhisattas make no mention of contemplation nor did the Buddha insist on it as a pre-requisite to an act of dana. The scriptures say only that the kammic potential of dana depends on the spiritual level of the recipient and this is the only teaching that we should consider in alms-giving. If the donor and the recipient were to be regarded as mere nama-rupa subject to anicca, etc., they would be on equal footing. The act of dana would then lack inspiration and much kammic potential.
From: A Discourse on Paticcasamuppada: The Doctrine of Dependent Origination by Ven Mahasi Sayadaw

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:AN7.49 Dana Sutta 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 nonreturning (anagami – third stage of enlightenment), requires a certain level of mastery in concentration and insight in order to be one's genuine motivation for giving.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... 7-049.html

With metta / dhammapal.

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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:48 pm

I think we shouldn't underestimate the importance of food, lodgings, clothes and medicines etc in the 'practice' of the dhamma. If these basic necessities were missing it would be difficult to practice the dhamma. Since we don't know how many lifetimes we may need this kind of good kamma leading to these requisites I think it is worthwhile giving dana to the sangha when opportunities present themselves (or by creating opportunities).

I think there is some thing simple in the act of giving which is beyond ego and conceit ('i am the great meditator, I am the great dhamma scholar' etc). It is simple act of kindness. This metta is the heart of sila. It also leads to the habit of letting go (of ones possessions) in a very real way which is not just theoretical; it also purifies the mind in having given.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

starter
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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby starter » Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:47 pm

"Anicca and Anatta might be one way to see Dana- but be warned- there is a pitfall here: some meditators (because sitting is easy) tend to block out the world and feel they don't need to interact with it. Dana -the actual thing of going out there and giving to someone- serves as a useful tool to get you out of your comfort zone (on the cushion) and into the world - theory needs to be backed up by action. One could see it as the culmination/peak of study and understanding- that it results in action in the real world." (Rowyourboat/Matheesha)

Hi Matheesha,

I copied your response to my post "Are the teachings to the monks directly applicable to laymen?" here because of the relevance. Concerning contemplation versus action, I think we'd better follow the example of the Buddha. Is his contemplation or action that led to his enlightenment?

I surely agree with you we should give dana to the sangha when opportunities present themselves out of kindness and etc., but not for seeking this kind of good kamma leading to these requisites. In terms of good kamma, “the fruit of cultivating the awareness of anicca-even for the moment of a finger snap-would have been greater” (than all the other good deeds).

By the way, did the Buddha allow the monks to request dana for their sangha? I thought not. I got such a private request in this forum, and have been wondering if it's right or not.

Metta,

Starter

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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:18 am

Hi Starter

The Buddha in his training period as a bodhisattva had to fulfil the Dana paramita- perfection in giving.

We in our training (while approaching nothing like what the Buddha did to fulfil his paramita) would be well placed to do some dana when the opportunity presents itself. It is harmless (if giving happens with the thought of letting go or with the wish of the good karma generated to support you in your path to nibbana).

Our minds are complex 'machines'- there is much that is visible- but also much that is hidden- this also applies to the defilements in our minds. Some defilements stop us from thinking good things. Other defilements stop us from saying good things, but no thinking about them. Others stop us from doing things, but not talking and thinking them.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby appicchato » Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:13 pm

starter wrote:...been wondering if it's right or not.

Nay, it's not...a standup monastic does not make requests for support unless expressly told directly by someone that it is acceptable to...

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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby starter » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:03 pm

Hello friend,

I've just realized that although contemplating anicca and anatta can be considered as the best dana practice, it's still necessary to start from more fundamental mundane dana practice, especially for the beginners (who probably shouldn't dive directly into contemplating anicca and anatta without some ground work). However, we should probably bear in mind that dana practice is to get us into right concentration for our inner mental training, instead of becoming distracted toward outer virtue acts merely.

After reading some Ven. Thanissaro's talks "Meditations" (available at ATI), I've gained some new understanding of dana which I'd like to share with the friends:

"... when the Buddha presents this introduction to his teaching on kamma, he focuses on two types of good actions to stress their importance: gratitude to your parents and generosity."

"Generosity is one of the ways you pay off that debt (the personal debt to our parents ...), and it's also one of the valuable ways you interact well with other beings, benefiting both them and yourself in the process".

"If you're used to letting go of material things, it comes a lot easier to begin experimenting with letting go of unskillful mental attitudes".

"By being generous — not only with material things but also with your time, your energy, your forgiveness, your willingness to be fair and just with other people — you create a good world in which to live [and a broad/spacious mind].

"... once you appreciate the principle of generosity and see that it is really worthwhile, you've made the choice to get started on the path. As the Buddha said, it's impossible for someone who is stingy to attain jhana, to attain any of the noble attainments".

Metta,

Starter

rowyourboat
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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:00 pm

Well done Starter - you are off to fine start!
:anjali:

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

dhammapal
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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby dhammapal » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:23 am

Hi Starter,

Another Ven Thanissaro quote for you from my dana-giving Yahoo Group:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:...the type that produces a pleasure conducive to the goal, or the type that doesn't. Those that do, the Buddha labeled the "path." These activities include acts of generosity, acts of virtue, and the practice of mental absorption, or concentration. Even though they fall under the Three Characteristics, these activities produce a sense of pleasure relatively stable and secure, more deeply gratifying and nourishing than the act of producing and consuming ordinary sensual pleasures. So if you're aiming at happiness within the cycles of change, you should look to generosity, virtue, and mental absorption to produce that happiness.
From: All About Change by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

With metta / dhammapal.

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Re: The best Dana practice – contemplating anicca and anatta

Postby Hanzze » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:47 pm

Dear Dhammafrieds,
a lot of good explanations...

TEN DOMAINS OF MERITORIOUS ACTIONS
(TEN PUNNA KIRIYAVATTHU)

Punna means that which purifies the mind, which in fact means good deeds. Kiriya means that which ought to be done. Vatthu means that which produces prosperity and welfare. These ten moral deeds give you the highest blessing called Mangala (the Auspicious).

The Ten Punna Kiriya Vatthu are:

1. Dana (charity)
2. Sila (morality)
3. Bhavana (meditation)
4. Apacayana (giving due respect to others)
5. Veyyavaca (rendering service and assistance)
6. Patti-dana (sharing merits)
7. Pattanumodhana (rejoicing at and appreciation of merits of others)
8. Dhammassavana (listening to the Dhamma)
9. Dhammadesana (teaching the Dhamma to others)
10. Ditthijukamma (right belief*)

... in ABHIDHAMMA IN DAILY LIFE from Ashin Janakabhivamsa
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 _()_

starter
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Re: How do you practice dana & caga?

Postby starter » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:51 pm

Greetings!

Having realized that mundane dana practice is necessary as an antidote for unrighteous greed/covetousness and for overcoming stinginess in order to enter jhana and the stream of N8P, I come back to this old thread to discuss how dana should be practiced in daily life.

Should we practice dana when opportunity presents itself naturally, or should we actively create opportunities? I think that dana practice is to get us into right concentration for our inner mental training, instead of becoming distracted toward outer virtue acts, therefore in more cases I tend to practice dana when opportunity presents itself naturally, when not adversely influencing myself and others.

Thanks to khalil bodhi's very helpful practice blod http://khalilbodhi.wordpress.com/, I learned how he practiced dana and caga. Inspired by his practice, I plan to focus on my dana/caga practice for a period of time in the following ways (some are borrowed from khalil which I'm sure he wouldn't mind):

1) Read/listen to a sutta daily on dana/caga

2) Mindfully practice dana and caga in daily life with wise reflection and right thinking (with no greed, no ill will/aversion, and no cruelty)
a. Donate to some worthy recipients
b. Carry some changes so that I could give to every person who ask, with care, compassion, and respect
c. Be generous in giving tips
d. Give more time and attention to my parents and relatives; call them more often and do more things for them.
e. Be of service and assistance to those around me when appropriate and do so as unstintingly as possible
f. Contribute more in the service committees and activities
g. Forgive those who have harmed me
h. Share my knowledge, understanding and practice of the Dhamma with the Dhamma friends

3) Reflect on my dana/caga practice at the end of a day and mark the calendar for fulfilling at least one of the above-listed dana acts that day; share the merits of my dana practice with all beings

4) Strive not to "break the chain" of the practice

I'd love to know your dana/caga practice. Would you share how you practice dana and caga in daily life?

Thanks and metta!

Starter

dhammapal
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Re: How do you practice dana & caga?

Postby dhammapal » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:19 am

Hi Starter,

I think that breath meditation can be a form of generosity, offering each mindful breath to the workings of kamma rather than hoarding up my breathing.

With metta / dhammapal.


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