Giving with an open heart brings us joy and directly benefits others. Goods
are then shared more equitably within our society and among nations, soothing
the ill-feeling of social inequity and promoting world peace. Sharing is a source
of our continued existence as a species. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says,
it is not survival of the fittest, but survival of those who cooperate the most,
that makes a species prosper. None of us exists independently; we have to depend
on others simply to stay alive. Thus, helping others and sharing wealth benefits
both self and others. Generosity makes us happy now, enables our species to
continue to prosper, and creates positive karma that brings us prosperity in
the future. In addition, it is an essential trait of an enlightened being. Who
ever heard of a stingy Buddha?
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, from 'How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator'
"Possessions are ephemeral and essenceless
Know this and give them generously to monks,
To brahmins, to the poor, and to your friends:
Beyond there is no greater friend than gift."
Having realized that possessions such as food are inconstant and fluctuate,
that in changing and transforming they are devoid of essence, in order to make
them meaningful try to use them properly, giving to those with good qualities
(monks and brahmins), to those who suffer (the poor, the sick, and so forth),
to those who help you (friends) and to those you venerate (spiritual teachers
and parents). Even beyond the world there is no friend more sublime, more beneficial,
than giving, because it gives rise directly and indirectly to ripened effects
that are inexhaustible.
Commentary by Kangyur Rinpoche to Nagarjuna's Letter to a Friend
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In giving we not only find wealth while in cyclic existence
but we achieve the zenith of prosperity in supreme enlightenment. Therefore
we all have to practice giving. A Bodhisattva's giving is not just overcoming
miserliness and being generous to others; a pure wish to give is cultivated,
and through developing more and more intimacy with it, such giving is enhanced
infinitely. Therefore it is essential to have the firm mind of enlightenment
rooted in great love and compassion and, from the depths of one's heart, to
either give one's body, wealth and virtues literally to sentient beings as infinite
as space, or to dedicate one's body, wealth and virtues for them while striving
in all possible ways to enhance the wish to give infinitely. As mentioned in
Engaging in Bodhisattva Activities and in The Precious Garland, we should literally
give material help to the poor and needy, give teaching to others, and give
protection to them, even the small insects, as much as we can. In the case of
things which we are not able to part with, we should cultivate the wish to give
them away and develop more and more intimacy with that wish.
Generous Wisdom: Commentaries
...practice of generosity and the other perfections is essential.
This is because the fully enlightened state of Buddhahood is produced by the
realization of favorable causes and conditions. There is no causeless production
and nothing is produced by contrary causes. A Bodhisattva has many wonderful
advantages to help enhance the welfare of sentient beings; every virtue performed
by such a noble being is very powerful and effective. Therefore, Bodhisattvas
earnestly engage in the practice of the method aspects of the path, including
the six perfections, in order to swiftly actualize the state of Buddhahood.
Stages of Meditation
Offerings should not be influenced by fluctuations of motivation and they should not be procured by devious means--offerings procured through wrong means are not good offerings. They should be arranged with proper motivation. As explained in the precepts of refuge, you should make offerings of the first portion of your food or drink of the day, whether it be food, milk or tea.
Offerings should be made of what is edible; it is not helpful to arrange a torma that could not be eaten and then to say OM AH HUM, OM AH HUM. If you can in reality transform something into delicious food just by reciting OM AH HUM three times, then it is alright! On the other hand, if your offerings remain as mere tsampa (roasted barley flour) after having repeated OM AH HUM a thousand times, it will not help much. The offerings should be the best you can afford. At least you can offer the first portion of your daily food, as no one can live without food! Our offerings should be something which is edible.... [Even] if you make water offerings in a proper manner, you can generate great merit.
The Union of Bliss and Emptiness: Teachings on the Practice of Guru Yoga (p.35)
|Others are my main concern. When I notice something
of mine, I steal it and give it to others.
Material success or wealth is neutral in itself, neither good or evil. It
become evil only when one is attached to it or to amassing it for selfish reasons.
It is good when one is not attached to it, and readily use it selflessly to
benefit others in need. Wealth should lead to generosity, or it will become
a spiritual obstacle. If there is propensity for great generosity for great
charity, the richer the merrier! Shen Shi'an
In the Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path Je Tsongkhapa says that when
we are training ourselves in any of the perfections, for instance in generosity,
we should make sure that we practice all the other five perfections--in this
case ethical discipline, patience, enthusiastic effort, concentration, and wisdom--and
the six excellent factors. When we perform a generous action, ethical discipline
will be included if we take care to refrain from doing anything unethical at
the same time. In certain situations, for instance, we may be tempted to speak
harshly or condescendingly as we give.
Generosity gives rise to abundance, and by insuring that our practice is complete,
we create the right environment to use these resources constructively. Sometimes
when we give, people respond ungratefully. If we can resist getting upset, we
are practicing patience. Giving not out of a sense of obligation or reluctantly
nor with a wish to outdo others but with joy is the practice of enthusiastic
effort. Directing our full attention to an act of generosity is concentration.
Discerning and understanding what is appropriate to give and what is not, and
remembering that the giver, the act of generosity, and the recipient are all
interdependent and empty of inherent existence are the practice of wisdom. Including
these different factors in our actions will bring many excellent results such
as a good body and mind, the resources we need, a pleasant appearance, supportive
companions, the ability to complete what we undertake, and the focus not to
be distracted by the disturbing emotions and so forth. This is how to insure
that we will enjoy many conducive conditions in a future human life. On the
other hand, our miserliness or impatience now could make us face many difficult
circumstances in the future.
Rinchen, How Karma Works: The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising
October 1, 2011