None of us can do this alone.
Since the days of the Buddha, communities and teachers have supported one another through dana, the Buddhist word for generosity. It is a practice of giving which points to a subtler spirit of giving.
Once a man had a pair of gloves he loved. Wearing them made him happy. One morning, standing in a subway car as the doors were sliding closed, he noticed a familiar looking glove on the station platform. Glancing down he saw he only had one glove – he must have dropped the other while boarding the train. The subway doors were closing too quickly for him to retrieve his glove: it was lost to him. So he flung his remaining glove out the closing door. A single glove would be of no use to anyone. But now, whoever found the glove would have a pair that might delight them.
That is the spirit of generosity. It is more than lack of attachment. It is the wellbeing that arises out of inner freedom. This freedom and joy are the foundation and the fruition of Buddhist practice.
The retreats, classes, and other events I offer have expenses. They have been covered before the event begins. They are offered freely out of a sense of joy in being able to share these teachings.
A dana bowl is present at physical events so you can give if you so choose. On-line events use checks and PayPal for donations. There are no strings attached. I know your resources are finite and you must manage them wisely.
At the same time, the dana is not an empty exercise. While current expenses are already taken care of, what you offer is a kind of “paying it forward.” It allows me to continue to offer these teaching to others. I have mortgages, car payments, grocery bills, and other living expenses like all of us. What you offer allows me to continue to teach.
Many Eastern cultures measure wealth by how much a person gives. Western consumer economies measure wealth by how much we accumulate. So a dana bowl in a Western society may create a dissonance inside you as your generous spirit clashes with cultural messages – your draw to freedom and joy bumps against cultural messages about safety and protection.
Therefore, dana is a practice – something we do over and over in an attitude of exploration. If you give more than is right for you, you may quietly resent it, which can interfere with the teachings. If you give less than what is right for you, you may feel you’re secretly getting away with something. That too can interfere with the teachings.
So I hope you’ll be kind with yourself, six-R, relax into the feelings, open your heart, and cultivate your deeper intuition. Be wise with your resources and at the same time keep an eye toward that sense of inner freedom and joy. Let all of this guide you.
Please know that whatever you offer is received with deep gratitude. It will be used to further these practices and teachings about freedom and joy.
If you’d like to send me dana, go to PayPal and within PayPal send it to ’’firstname.lastname@example.org’’. If you’d rather send me a check, let me know in the comment box below and I will send you my address.
Marcy Reynolds, September 16, 2023
Thank you for the lovely teachings last Tues. via zoom!
Copyright 2021 by Doug Kraft
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How to cite this document (a suggested style): "About Dana" by Doug Kraft, www.dougkraft.com/?p=Dana.