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Giving More, Wanting Less

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  • Antony Woods
    Giving More, Wanting Less From the Buddhist perspective, the cause of our suffering is craving or tanha. Such craving has its root in ignorance and greed. We
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 17, 2004
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      Giving More, Wanting Less

      From the Buddhist perspective, the cause of our suffering is craving or
      tanha. Such craving has its root in ignorance and greed. We want to get
      more, have more, possess more, thinking that it will bring us happiness.
      What we already have we want to hang on to as if it is something that we can
      have forever. Buddhism teaches the opposite of this. If we want to be
      without suffering we must destroy craving. Instead of becoming obsessed with
      having and hanging on to things, therefore, it is better to practice giving
      or dana. This is a virtue that is found at the heart of all schools of
      Buddhism. In Mahayana Buddhism it is the first of the the six perfections
      on the Bodhisattva Path.

      Good Fortune

      Giving can take many forms. The most obvious form of giving is material
      things but we can also give less tangible things such as our time, energy
      and thoughts. Indeed, as humans we are very fortunate in that our
      opportunities for giving are limitless. Those of us with families find that
      giving is an inevitable part of daily life. Similarly at work, we are
      involved in giving our service to others in many different ways. We can give
      to a whole gamut of charities. And we can even contribute to the overall
      good of society through the payment of taxes! Sometimes - in very extreme
      circumstances - people are even prepared to give up their own lives for the
      sake of others.

      One special form of giving in Buddhism, however, is the giving of the dharma
      or truth/teaching. In the Dhammapada it says: 'the Gift of the Dharma excels
      all other gifts'. To share the teachings of Buddhism, therefore, is seen as
      very special, exceeding other kinds of gifts. This is because by explaining
      the teachings of Buddhism you are giving someone the opportunity to liberate
      themselves from the world of suffering and to reach nirvana.

      Karma

      The benefits of giving are seen in its karmic effects. Giving leads to being
      reborn in happy states and material wealth. Alternatively, lack of giving
      leads to unhappy states and poverty. The early scriptures state that giving
      to virtuous people is more meritorious than giving to non-virtuous people:
      'By giving a gift to the immoral ordinary person, the offering may be
      expected to repay a hundredfold. By giving a gift to a virtuous ordinary
      person, the offering may be expected to repay a hundred thousandfold' (The
      Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta). The Buddha goes on to say: 'in no way does a gift
      to a person individually ever have greater fruit than an offering made to
      the Sangha'.

      Motivation

      A key factor in giving is motivation. Unfortunately, giving can often have a
      degree of selfishness within it. Sometimes, when we give, hidden somewhere
      within us is the notion that we will benefit from it in some way. This could
      be the thought of the good merit that we will earn or we will be liked or
      appreciated. The purest giving, however, has no such motivation behind it,
      only the thought of how the recipient will benefit.

      The exquisite paradox in Buddhism is that the more we give - and the more we
      give without seeking something in return - the more wealthy (in the broadest
      sense of the word) we will become. By giving we destroy those acquisitive
      impulses that ultimately lead to further suffering.

      From Anthony Flanagan,
      Your Guide to Buddhism.
      http://buddhism.about.com/library/weekly/aa100402a.htm

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