Last Saturday, on April 13, 2019, we continued our study in the first of The Ten Paramitas of Mahayana Buddhism — Dāna (Generosity).
We read the article “Joyful Receiving” and listened to a short recording titled “No Labels in Reality“. After group discussion, we wrapped up our session with an excrept from the Diamond Sutra. We also shared print out of two articles: “Receive Generosity” & “The Gift That Cannot Be Given – Q & A with Marcia Rose” as our homework guides for the upcoming weeks.
Below is a copy of our handout with the materials we shared, questions we discussed during our session, and links to the homework articles at the end of this page. Happy learning!
The Ten Paramitas of Mahayana Buddhism : Generosity Part 2
RECAP: Pāramitā (Sanskrit) or Parami (Pāli): “Perfection” or “Transcendent”. In Buddhism, the Paramitas refer to the perfection or culmination of certain practices. These practices are cultivated by Bodhisattvas for crossing from sensuous life (Samsara) to Enlightenment (Nirvana).
Dāna (pronounced “DAH-nuh”), noun. Sanskrit, Pali, roughly translated as: “gift, alms, donation” ; voluntary giving of materials, energy, or wisdom (dharma) to others; generosity. It is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist virtues.
* Leibow is Practice Leader of Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship and a lay-minister with the Bright Dawn Center for Oneness Buddhism, in the lineage of Ven. Gyomay Kubose who founded the Buddhist Temple of Chicago in 1944.
“No Labels in Reality” — by Abhaya, available on Free Buddhist Audioa **
** Free Buddhist Audio is an online service of the Triratna Buddhist Order in the U.K.
“The Empty Nature of the Three Wheels”: No Giver, No Receiver, No Gift
The Buddha said to Subhūti: “The bodhisattvas and mahāsattvas should subdue their thoughts like this: All the different types of sentient beings, whether they be born from eggs, born from a womb, born from moisture or born spontaneously; whether or not they have form; whether they abide in perceptions or no perceptions; or without either perceptions or non-perceptions, I save them by causing them to enter nirvana without remainder. And when these immeasurable, countless, infinite number of sentient beings have been liberated, in actuality, no sentient being has attained liberation. Why is this so? Subhūti, If a bodhisattva abides in the signs of self, person, sentient being, or life-span, she or he is not a bodhisattva.”
“Furthermore Subhūti, when bodhisattvas practice charity, they should not abide [in the notion that they are practicing charity]. This is what is called ‘practicing charity while not abiding in form,’ and ‘practicing charity while not abiding in sound, odor, taste, touch, or conceptions.’ Why? If bodhisattvas practice charity while not abiding in signs of charity, their merit will be incalculable. Subhūti, what do you think? The space in the easterly direction is incalculable, is it not?”
“You are right, World-honored One, it is not calculable.”
“Subhūti, is all of the space in the four cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, the zenith, and the nadir calculable?”
“It is incalculable, World-honored One.”
“Subhūti, the merits attained by bodhisattvas who practice charity without abiding in its signs are also incalculable like this. Subhūti, the bodhisattvas need only focus themselves on this teaching.”
– Diamond Sutra Chapters 3 & 4
- What are some of the feelings and thoughts you have had when you ask for help?
- What do you think of receiving also being a form of generosity? Generosity to whom and in what ways?
- Why do you think: “the more we cultivate our ability to receive joyfully whatever is given to us, the more we will be able to give wholeheartedly” and “until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart”?
- What does “no giver, no receiver, no gift” mean to you?
- Read this article: “Receive Generosity” by Dr. Rick Hanson:
In everyday life, try to appreciate all that life and others give you. “So many gifts.”
- Read this article: “The Gift That Cannot Be Given – Q & A with Marcia Rose“:
As you practice Giving and Receiving this month, pay attention to how you would answer the questions that Marcia Rose suggested in the article, at those moments of Giving and Receiving. And come back to share your observations with us!