The Importance of Generosity

The Ten Paramis or Perfections are qualities that are said to lead to awakening if integrated into life and practice. They are closely entwined with the Brahmaviharas and the Noble Eightfold Path. While different sources list or translate the Pali words for these in different ways, virtually all sources list the first or greatest of the Perfections as generosity (dana). Dana is the voluntary giving of gifts to others: food, clothing, shelter, energy, wisdom, whatever is needed. It is symbolic of renunciation and letting go and is a means to overcoming greed, clinging and egoism.

One should never ignore the impulse to give. It doesn't particularly matter whether the recipient is deserving; it is the opportunity to observe how generosity lightens the heart that is important. This is a liberating practice all by itself.

It is this practice that has supported the transmission of the Dhamma for millenia. Like the commercial, the Dhamma is priceless--but that doesn't mean it is without cost. Monastics and lay teachers teach without charge because this generosity arises from their practice--but they still have to eat, pay the mortgage and clothe themselves and they cannot do that without the help we give them.

This Thanksgiving, let us be reminded of our teachers, give them thanks and support them in any way we can.

Posted by Deb.