Sunday, November 22, 2009

Give What You Can

If beings knew as I do the result of giving things, they would not enjoy them without sharing them with others, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the heart and stay there. Even it were their last and final scrap of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were someone to receive it (It.18).
Have a look at this most unusual wed web site, read it and carefully consider the suggestions it makes. givingwhatwecan.org

10 comments:

may said...

A great food for thought to start a day - thanks for the inspiration!

merlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gustav said...

I'm sorry but it sounds out of contact with reality. Please read the books of Frances Moore-Lappe to get more knowledge about how the world out there is like. Especially I recommend the book Scarcity Myth, or Food for all. In that book she very clearly explains the mechanism of how food or ANYTHING sent to Africa is changed into something that they really need, which invariably is weapons, ammunition and the like...
To me this webpage you recommend could mean just exactly the real thing, ie GUNS, there is something in it that evokes suspicion in me immediately.
Everything in the world is based on social structure, that means state, government etc... The whole problem is about that, ie state and social order, but can you really import that to other countries ? When they all have their own complex social orders and social hierarchies, and so on....

Ken and Visakha said...

I had two of my primary school students die of shistosomaisis when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mindanao. That looks to be a worthwhile project, directly benefitting the very vulnerable.

Still we must always choose where to help since nobody has the wherewithall to assist everybody who needs help.

I can't agree with Gustav -- we need to be informed before we donate, but being cynical and generalizing from worst case scenarios can be a justification, a rationalization for doing nothing.

gustav said...

In Dhamma you should not be a simpleton, giving or dana should be guided by wisdom, prajna.

Soe am i said...

I do think it is wise to find out the truth of a matter to know what you can do with it. In this case what and how to give. It is like Gustav said, to discern with wisdom.

Does being suspicious mean one would make the wise choice as opposed to being naive? If we do not find out about the truth of what actually happens in each case of charity you want to help in/or ignore, based on assumptions only, wouldn't we still be equally ignorant?

I agree we should aim to be aware of the reality of things like Gustav mentions. Yet we tend to generalize and overlook the fact that each situation however similar has its own unique set of conditions; place, time, individuals, history, culture, etc. (Hmm why does the mind tend to do that? Bhante do you think it relates back to our habit-forming 'habit'?)
Similr situations may follow similar general patterns/rules but if it important enough, it seems foolish if we just use these general rules to understand a situation right?

I think, whenever we embark on what we deem an important endevour; be it running a business, forming strong fruitful relationships or spiritual practice, we naturally seek an intimate level of understanding of the components involved. This would ensure a higher chance at success, relative to how well we have understood the reality of these things.

Since we touched on the subject of discerning truths, I'd like to invite those who can, to join Bhante and a few of us at this Friday's discussion of the Kalama Sutta. I am pretty excited about this one.)

Ken and Visakha said...

Let's please reread the Buddha's words:

If beings knew as I do the result of giving things, they would not enjoy them without sharing them with others, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the heart and stay there. Even it were their last and final scrap of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were someone to receive it (It.18).

The emphasis is on the effect of giving on the giver -- giving, sharing has value, down to the last scrap of food "if there were someone to receive it." No matter who that someone happens to be.

That is in in contact with a wider reality than the world of Frances Moore-Lappe.

Soe am i said...

Dear friends,

Some useful references to consider on the subject, from www.BuddhismAtoZ.com

"When we give or share we should, the Buddha advised, give with respect, thoughtfully, with our own hand if possible, give things that will benefit the recipient and after having considered how our gift might benefit them (A.III,172). With typical skill and insight, he asked us to see beyond the actual article we give to what it can actually do for others."
http://buddhismatoz.com/g/Generosity.html

"The Buddhist epic, Maṇimegala, says: ‘Hunger ruins good birth and destroys all nobility; it destroys the love of learned men for their learning, even though previously they thought it the most valuable thing in life. Hunger takes away all shame and degrades the beauty of the features; it makes men stand with their wives at the door of others. This is the nature of hunger, the source of evil craving, and those who relieve it cannot be praised too highly. Food given to those who already have enough is generosity wasted, but food given to relieve hunger is real generosity."
http://buddhismatoz.com/f/Food.html

Bhante is the Maṇimegala here the same as the Manimekalai, one of the 5 great epics in Tamil Literature?

And 3 more links on compassion, good and bad, the Kesaputtiya Sutta:

http://buddhismatoz.com/c/Compassion.html

http://buddhismatoz.com/g/GoodAndBad.html

http://buddhismatoz.com/k/KalamaSutta.html

aah-haa said...

Mere giving is not necessarily generosity. It is easy to give when there is abundance and surpluses. The true test of generosity is when you have little or nothing and you still give to those who are in greater need than you. A hungry child gets the food even when the parent is just as hungry. Therefore, I do not agree that performing the 'giving' act is merit making or accumulation. It should be encouraged as a selfless act not a rewarding act! As such, giving should be done wisely, to benefit the recipients not the GIVER (joy of sharing)! What joy is there if we have to share - it means poverty or scarcity (whatever the cause)?

may said...

Dear Soe am i, would you know what will be the topic for this friday 11th Dec Sutta discussion?