To give is in actuality the greatest blessings for he who gives has little need, and he has learned the meaning of imparting and wishing happiness on others. Those who find it difficult to give will tend to be greedy and therefore are on the accumulative path.
Such person will find it very painful to give and they will only give out of necessity, or when forced to do so. Such givings are impure or they will cause their minds to dwell on what they have given. With this trend of thoughts, they will expect something in return each time the act of giving is performed. Or they may regret having given so much and so they become unhappy. Have you ever seen a stingy or greedy person in any happy state of mind? Many will say that they will give when their financial circumstances are better or that it is easier for those who have, to give. This is a wrong notion, this is a fallacy! Many who have much will find it painful to be charitable so that when the question of being a ‘giver’ arises, they will not come forward, and there are those who will give, if only to satisfy their ego or to receive some recognition. All these and other reasons make giving a hollow act which is dangerous to the mind. One who gives need not think about the benefits of the act. It must be done out of good intention, out of love and out of the great wish to impart happiness to others. How serene are the hearts of those who give readily and how easy they merge with the practice.
Wealth is meant to be used wisely and for the sake of gaining happiness. It is not meant to be a hindrance to liberation. Those who have failed to recognise this point will believe that what is theirs must not be given away even to bring some cheers or hope to the poor ones. The cause of their being wealthy has been due to past acts of charity so that circumstances in this lifetime are more suitable to continue their practice. But being misled by conditions or past tendencies, they are again clouded by wrong views which make them selfish and stingy. When will they ever learn that generosity will bring them great wealth and happiness? When will they understand that they would make use of what they can give to grow spiritually?
They must realise that at death, nothing can be brought along with them and unless they have understood this point and begin to practise charity, death will be most painful and difficult as their selfish thoughts lingers on, bringing them anger that others will use their wealth upon death. This is a simple teaching which even a child may understand but many adults will find it very difficult to put to practice.
The giving of money and objects are not the only way of performing charitable deeds. It is the caring, the great thought of wishing others to be rid of their sufferings and their causes that is the driving force of practice. Therefore, not only those who have the means are able to practise charity or to make others happy. Good acts can be performed in a million ways and those who live their lives practising such acts, even though some are really insignificant, they are the ones who have experienced true happiness. They are happier than those who have received the benefits and help. It is difficult to describe their feelings and those who wish to experience this must learn to give with their whole heart. The direct experience will motivate them to become generous throughout their lives and they will be the true disciples of the path. For such people, practice will be on a different level. No doubt they will ask, but they will also give freely. Their prayers will be all embracing and all sentient beings’ needs will always be in their mind.
Sitting down in prayers, what kind of thoughts run through your mind? Do you have great problems which others do not face? Are your sufferings not at any moment felt by millions of others? Or you hate those who have not been kind to you, who have cheated you or have rejected you? Do you wish for blessings only for your own happiness? The more of such thoughts that you have, the more you must be aware of the importance of right practice.
Right practice is not any other practice but that which has been taught by the Buddha. Buddhist practice is truly altruistic. It involves one’s full concentration on the happiness of others so that it calls for great wisdom to live one’s life beneficially. Having wisdom in this lifetime is therefore the greatest fortune one can ever hope for. It is the very weapon that cuts through ignorance. It is that which helps one to recognise the truth of sufferings and its cause. It drives one to search for the ways and means to ridding sufferings and directs him to the Dharma so that he may practise it. Those who have the opportunity to hear Dharma have earned great merits in the past and they most certainly must have practised kindliness, generosity and other good deeds. They should reflect on their good fortunes of being such a rare being and therefore continue where they have left behind - they must wish for the happiness of others and treat them as their fields of merits. Having used them as fields of merits they must at least be grateful to them for having awakened their mind towards enlightenment. This is done by passing merits to them with the firm wish that they too will awaken to the Buddha’s path and leave behind all practices which are tinged with selfishness. Then they will not seek revenge in those who have harmed or be belittled them, then they will generate love instead of hate in their hearts for all kinds of beings!
Monday, 30th September 1985
8th Moon, 16th Day