Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
May 30 1989
We are on an evolution starting off with your own position. That you have a special human existence and that we should take advantage of the qualities we have as a human called realizing your perfect human rebirth. From there we moved into being conscious that life is impermanent and therefore we should utilize what we have as we have the time. From there we moved into the law of cause and effect and being more aware of suffering as being a part of life. Although we don't focus on suffering we should have acceptance of suffering. From there, we moved to a more holistic approach to life. We termed that nirvana or realizing the non duality of existence. In that way one attains a certain amount of liberation. From that point we moved from being focused on self and self concerns, that there is a whole world out there of sentient beings and creatures who are all equal with you in the desire for happiness. In that way we dealt with altruism in the sense of opening one's heart. Of not only working for oneself but also to have openness to help other people.
Last week we talked about taking all of the philosophy of working with your self, the way of working with your self in the basic sense of in your heart of hearts that to have the feeling of wanting to be helpful for other people. That that feeling is important thing to find. And from there your altruistic practice can grow very naturally.
The next step is termed the actual practice. We have talked about the inspiration, the motivation, the perspective we need to have. So what are the actual things that we do? In Buddhism there are the six perfections. The six ways to bring your self into perfection, to create the quality of being which is superlative, which is the bodhisattva, which is the wisdom being. A treasury of great jewels. And those jewels are then actual qualities of your being and character.
The first practice which is very direct and immediate for us, is the practice of generosity. To support the Buddhist church or go out and support the world, that is wrong! It is completely off what the topic of generosity means. It says in the text that if the perfection of generosity was the alleviation or the releasing of poverty in the world, then all the previous Buddhas blew it. Because, there is still poverty in the world. It means that if the perfection of generosity or charity demanded that you release all the world of poverty, illness, and whatever else exists in the way of non productive situations, then none of the previous Buddha's did it. None of the present bodhisattvas and people that are trying to be generous have ever done it, and nor will anyone in the future. It is impossible. You might give someone everything they ever needed and they will still be impoverished. The perfection of generosity has nothing to do with the objective world. It is a subjective state of being and refers to your sense of openness. In Buddhism they say the perfection of generosity is that in your heart you have no feeling of miserliness. It is not a question of giving all your possessions away because that is the way to be generous. That would be foolish. Although you might collect a little good karma, chances are you would collect a lot of bad karma because you would immediately become depressed, unhappy and even more miserly.
It does mean though, that in your heart you have a non miserly attitude. It is good to use the negative because you have an idea of what is being talked about. Miserliness is grasping, a sense of tightness. And so in your heart, to be of a generous nature, is that you are open. That your personality is outward flowing. And in that there is no doubt or hesitancy. And that does not mean you have to give everything away. Let us say you are wealthy. And so people come and ask you for money. You can be just as discriminating as you would normally would be in regards to where you want to give your money. It depends on how much karma you want to collect on one side. If you want to have a lot of material karma you could give a lot away all the time and on that side of the fence you are collecting the cause in the law of cause and effect in being affluent in future lives. And even in this lifetime if you are very pure in giving things away. That is the Buddhist doctrine on that.
If we talk instead of the personality, it means in your heart you have a richness which is always willing to give. They say when a Bodhisattva hears someone say to them, please give to me, it is said that in their mind arises bliss. Bliss like an opportunity to help someone. Their mind is not tight. If we hear someone ask, please give me.... your mind immediately goes tight! You say, what do you want? That is the way I am! Everything sort of stops and I say what do you want? And I sort of feel it out and say, well, I can handle that. That is what happens to us. You can not say that is bad. It is not bad at all. But is the way our personality works. You can have a sense of generosity in your heart which is wide open and yet when some one asks you for something, you can still pause and wonder if you are going to give it to them or not, but you have that sense of warmth and sharing in your heart. And then you can appraise, is it that beneficial to give this person what they want? Is it in the overall picture of things what I need to do right now? You can still judge and weigh the situation.
What I am saying is that generosity is in the personality. And it is your sense of openness and sharing. You could term it personal wealth in your personality. That is the point I want to talk about when you speak of generosity and how it applies to your karma of who you are. If in your heart you have warmth, sharingness and openness, your personality is open and rich. If you were to look at that person in their intermediate state, and they are seeking a new rebirth, their vibration or frequency of their personality or whatever their spirit body is, is still in that nature. It is still generous and warm. So automatically they are drawn to people of similar natures. They say that in the law of cause and effect it is not that you perform generosity or you are a moral person or something, the important thing is that in the heart you are moral. In the heart you are generous. That you like to share things with other people. That energy is what is going to go with you in your next lifetime. So that is why it is important not to be caught up in material forms. That it is not a need to put a dollar sign beside it. Or how much generosity you perform because of the material goods that passes through your hands. Rather it is a movement in your heart, a state of being, and that is the most important thing in it. And that is where the perfection of generosity is going to happen.
Really I want to touch on that generosity is your consciousness in a sense of richness. And that richness is open and sharing. That you feel affluent in your own being. And from there, whether it is giving money or time, generosity of your love in actually spending time and giving emotional input, or giving people care or protection, these are all considered generosity. Like when someone is suffering you bring them into your home and give them protection. Then also the generosity of giving them advice in the sense of when someone is open to receiving advice from you. There are those different levels of generosity.
They identify four of them in the sense of material generosity of actual physical goods. Generosity of protection to another person. Generosity of love, that one actually gives good energy for another person. And generosity of the dharma, giving advice and things like that.
The most important thing in being generous is you and where you stand as a person, the object you give, and who you give it to. They say the better objects to give to are, one, those who are poor or deprived or in a bad situation. I think of like a fly on the window. You don't swat it. You take a cup and you take a piece of paper and slide it underneath and the put him out the window. Giving protection to a fly.
The object are those in a deprived or suffering situation. The second object which it is good to practice generosity with are your parents. Because they have done a lot for you in helping you come into the world, they say to be generous to those people is appropriate because they have done a lot for you. The last are objects of quality, identified normally as the Buddha, the monks and nuns, practitioners and such like that. For the Buddhas, it is very good karmic objects. AS for monks and nuns who have renounced the worldly life, it is good to give to them because if they are very sincere in their practice, then you are actually being charitable to spirituality in the whole. It is not just one person, it is the whole spiritual that you are fostering. And then teachers in church and such can be given to, because if it is a good church it is working for the benefit of others.
Secondly regarding the object that you give, it is said that although it is alright to give what you have in surplus, it is not really generosity. For example, if you are filthy rich, then to give two or three thousand dollars is nothing. It is generosity only when there is surplus. The better generosity is when you are giving something beyond a surplus in your life.
The final one is yourself. In giving it it is important that you give it nicely. That you don't throw it at the recipient. They say that the best way to give to another is to give with both hands. And to give it nicely. For example, if you are giving some fruit, to place it nicely on a plate and offer it that way. And to do it in a way that does not demean the other person. For example if you give to a poor person on the side of the road and you throw your money at them! It is demeaning. So you try to give it nicely so that you show respect. And that also what you are giving has value to you, giving it in a nice way.
That covers generosity although I could go into more details. I don't think it is necessary. I prefer you to work with yourselves on how you think of generosity. Practicing generosity is the principle cause of affluence in your future lives and the latter part of this life. And the way that it works is that in your heart you have affluence and not in the material objects. And the objects you give to. Like giving money to someone who is already wealthy is a useless object. Whereas giving to someone who needs it is a nice thing to do.
The more important point is visualization, personal feeling and integrity in giving generosity.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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