: It it possible to make ourselves rich by donating?
- Sorry, not to come back soon as I am a bit occupied. First, I like to say how
encouraging I feel with your participation, as dana is a very important aspect
of Buddhist culture. That said, we should not forget that my first answers
were based on the way the question was formulated. When restricted by a question
one may not feel free to explore.
Precise to the point. We may ask ourselves: Is dana not a part of kamma?
Even we can go on and say, is sila not a part of kamma?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, for those of us who have not got rid of
lobha, dosa and moha (clinging, anger and delusion). No, for those who have
attained enlightenment. (For detail, please read the cula-dukkhakkhandha-sutta,
and Maha dukkhakkhandha-sutta, Majjhima-nikaya). For one who has got rid of
the three root-defilements, he/she has no more kamma.
In equation: before one becomes enlightened, no matter how one's opinion is
there is some lobha (clinging or expectation) when donating.
I am aware of the qoutation from the Dakkhina-vibhanga-sutta (M135) given
below. While it clearly shows the link between donation and richness, donation
is not recommended as the way to richness. Instead, there are moral guidelines
(such as Vasala sutta, parabhava Sutta, Bygghapajja Sutta, Mangala Sutta,
Singalovada Sutta, Ittha sutta (AN), and Kudadanta Sutta (DN) and so on) that
lead to richness not only for individuals but also for the society.
Generosity, to me, is a saving, not an investment. The word saving is called
in pali nidhi-kandha. And there is a discourse with this name.
Because our generosity can always be shadowed by one of the three unwholesome
factors (lobha, dosa and moha) or it can be more inclined towards alobha,
adosa and amoha (please try to understand these Pali words, they are important),
the ratio of this mix-up (kusala and akusla-mula: roots of wholesome and
unwholesome) in our mind, the outcome is different from one to another. The mix-
up (combination) is done in the mind.
"kan" (kamma) is another crucial concept from which we see donation/generosity.
Kamma is usually understood as the action we DID in the past. However, kamma
covers our intention/ volition/ motive not only in the past but also at present.
When we make a statement that "people are different due to their kamma", we
mean they differ in the conditions (kamma/ sankhara) they have acquired; those
conditions may include dana, or sila or bhavana, to use popular terms.
Kamma is dynamic and encompassing all aspects of our life.
I think I'd better stop here. Just before that, let me welcome all your
responses. Pl. keep on thinking and examining our own beliefs as this is what
the Buddha wanted us doing.
One thing I want to mention, in case I have no enough time to surf these days,
is what I saw in Pegu town when I was young. During the kathina periods, people
would hire an unknown singer and walk from street to street, asking for donation
for a temple, whose name we have never heard. Some said that there was a
professional cheating in that period, because no monks were never seen with them.
All the people in the procession (may be five to six) were all paid on daily
basis. In that instance, our generosity can be abused. Sometimes, the authority
may force people to donate as well. King Bodawpaya forced people to build
Mingun pagoda. Just read the Royal orders collected by Prof. Than Tun and
published by Kyoto University, we can see how people were FORCED to be generous.
'Manle' Sayadaw in his Maghadewa Linka said: no genuine donation, if done for
love (like), for fame.
for this, the Buddha gives us some guidance as to how to investigate ourselves
as donors, the others as receivers, and the gift itself so that any donation
will bear maximum fruit. Dana is after all one of the ten perfections needed to be fulfilled by an aspirant for enlightenment.
My own conclusion is that it is possible to become
rich by donating. But gifts must only be donated to
the Sangha to become fruitful. Gifts to people who do
not practise the Dhamma or do not believe in kamma
bears little fruit.
In MN 135, the Buddha said:
"Furthermore, there is the case where a certain woman
or man does not give food, drink, clothing, vehicles,
garlands, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings, or lamps
to priests or contemplatives... This is the way
leading to being poor...
"But there is the case where a certain woman or man
gives food, drink, clothing, vehicles, garlands,
scents, ointments, beds, dwellings, & lamps to priests
& contemplatives... This is the way leading to being
By virtue of what the Buddha said, I believe that one
can become wealthy by donating good gifts to the
Of course, we must also take into account of what the
Buddha taught about the time of fruition of kamma. It
may take a very long time, perhaps many many lifetimes
of rebirth, before the kamma bears fruit.