Dana: the practice of giving

Dear Sangha,
 
I have transmitted to you the ways, the practices, that will allow us to cross to the Other Shore.

We don’t want to stay on the shore of anger and jealousy, we want to cross over to the Other Shore: the shore of well-being, non-anger, joy, equanimity, and love. 

Crossing over to the Other Shore is a teaching that we can practice in our daily life: the Six Paramitas. We can cross to the Other Shore any time we want, because we have been given the way to do it. 

Dana paramita is the practice of giving. Just give, and suddenly you find yourself on the Other Shore.

Suppose you are angry at someone and suffering very much because of them. Think of dana paramita, think of giving him or her a present – whatever you can offer them in order to make them happy right now. If you can practice giving, your anger will be gone right away, and suddenly you will find yourself on the Other Shore, the shore of non-anger and well-being.

It’s strange, how could this practice be so easy? 

And yet, deep in your heart, deep in your mind, you know that you have the seed of generosity, you have the willingness to make that person happy. It has always been there, that willingness.

But now, you are angry at them. And you are doing the opposite: offering non-joy and non-peace. So go back and touch the seed of your love. Isn’t it true that, in the beginning of your relationship, you made a deep commitment to make him or her happy? And now you are doing the opposite. Go back to your original mind, touch the seed of love in you and decide to do what you originally wanted to: make him or her happy.

What can I give them in this moment for them to be happy?

You don’t have to go to the store and buy something. You have many things you can give right now – a smile, a loving look. Are you capable of giving? Can you give your joy, your stability, your freedom?

Take one inbreath and know that you are alive, and reach the enlightenment that your beloved is still alive in front of you. And with that insight, you can very well smile. And your anger will be gone; that smile, that joy, that capacity to cherish both your presence and their presence is a big gift. And suddenly you find yourself on the Other Shore.

You don’t need to practice for 10 years to do that. If you know how to practice breathing in and breathing out with mindfulness and solidity, just one inbreath and outbreath can transform the situation and allow your mind of love, your seed of love, to manifest. And that is the gift we call “dana paramita“: the type of giving that can bring you, and them, to the Other Shore, the shore of well-being. Please try.

You have many items available to use as a gift in the here and now. You are not as poor as you might have imagined.

Make yourself fully present in the here and the now; you’ll be able to touch many items that are available for you to make into a gift to give to the person in front of you. If you can do that, you will also receive the gift at the same time, because the fruit of the practice will be instantaneous.

What else can you give?

You give your freedom – freedom from anger, sorrow, forgetfulness, the past, the future. You are capable of being a free person in the here and now. That is the greatest gift.

“Darling, I offer you my freedom.” And we can share that freedom. 

Freedom makes happiness possible. All of us know that when we are not free, when we are bound to our anger, afflictions, and worries, happiness is not possible.

We have learned the art of letting go. We have learned the art of releasing our cows. We have learned many ways of reclaiming our liberty. It is in this position of a free person that you can make the best gift to the person in front of you. That person might be your partner, your son, your daughter, your friend, or even your enemy. 

You can make an enemy into a friend through the practice of giving. You may not have tried, but it is very effective.

The Buddha said that when you get angry at someone, even if anger is still there after you have tried many solutions, then try this: give them a present. That was suggested by the Buddha himself.

I would like to recommend this: get a present ready. When you are not angry at him or her, prepare a present: a love letter, a gift made by yourself or bought in the supermarket. Wrap it and present it in loving kindness, with all your heart. That is your practice. And in preparing this gift to them, ‘My heart is full of love’.

Every movement I make is motivated by love, and by making him or her happy, so I prepare this gift – even though I know that, in the future, in three days or maybe a week or two, I may be angry at them. But I am determined, at that moment, to send them this gift, to bring it to their desk or mail it through the Post Office. So you do that [despite] being aware that your love for them may be impermanent.

And one day, this gift that you are preparing might be a means to restore your love. And when you get angry at them, go to the Post Office and mail it. After doing that, you’ll feel much better.

Have you tried? Go ahead. It’s very effective.

And we have several other ways to practice dana paramita, the practice of giving.

When we receive the Five Mindfulness Trainings and live according to them, we protect ourselves and our loved ones. That is also a precious gift that can bring us over to the Other Shore, the shore of safety, the shore of well-being.

Giving in to the teaching of Buddhism is a very deep practice. And you don’t need to be rich to practice giving. You are a lot richer than you might have thought.

You can make one person extremely happy. You can make many, many people extremely happy if you know how to practice dana paramita. You need only to go back to yourself, practice mindful breathing, and recognize that you have a treasure of happiness, a treasure of elements that can be used to make people happy.

You can make 10, 100, 1,000 people happy. If you learn how to use your time, your energy, your smile, then you can make people happy. And when you make people happy, you are happy yourself. 

You have been offered the teaching on the emptiness of giving. You give with the spirit of non-discrimination, you give without conditions. That form of giving is the highest form of giving. You give as a bodhisattva. And the outcome will be tremendous. The happiness will be huge.

Please learn more about the practice of giving. The more we give, the happier we become. And we make so many people around us happy.

The Buddhist teaching on giving is wonderful. And even if you don’t have any money in your bank account, you can still practice as a bodhisattva by giving a lot of things, a lot of happiness every day.      


[This transcript has been edited for readability.]

Watch the short teaching here:

 

Comments

  1. I like to read too. For me it s easier and pleasurable. The print is large enough. Thank you for this gift .

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