Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Season Of Giving

Well, the season of giving is upon us again. Over the next few days those living in the West or in Westernized societies like Singapore are likely to spend at least a few hundred dollars, perhaps more, on gifts, cards, food, drinks, outings, get-togethers, Christmas decorations, etc. But here is a question for you. If you could forgo the gifts and celebrations and so on, in order to save one human life, would you? Think about it for just a minute and then read on.

Peter Singer, perhaps the most accessible, brilliant, not to say controversial (Well! He is Australian!) contemporary philosopher, has recently launched a project which you might find useful according to how you answered the above question. Please read http://thelifeyoucansave.com/idea.html and then have a look at http://thelifeyoucansave.com/


Ken and Visakha said...

Copenhagen sort of answers how the developed world sees the importance of lives in developing countries.
As you've pointed out before, Bhante, the importance of giving isn't just about results for the recipient. Giving is good for the giver.

aah-haa said...

'The Season of Giving' - so there is a time to give. But isn’t this the time of exchanging gifts or giving gifts for the purpose of gratification, part of merry making labelled as the joy of giving? Is this a surreptitious occasion to bring in the virtue of generosity, to bring virtue back to its ‘noble’ root? Giving then was associated with noble man or ‘belonging to nobility’, not of ordinary folks. I wonder whether generosity is the correct interpretation of ‘dana’? Nevertheless, I accept that generosity is a 'noble' virtue, one of the paramitas and a requisite for entering the stream of Enlightenment.
The true test of generosity is the absence of abundance. Isn’t it easy to give when one has plenty unless one is a miser or hoarder? Giving with expectation of reciprocity is not giving. I give and I take in return, what have I given? I give; you give is buying each other's affection, loyalty, support and approval. Thinking of the destitute during this merry-making time is nothing more than snow-washing the guilt of having a good time. Jingle all the way and oh what fun - the money spent on all these magic and beauty could go to pay for needed medicine, education, and food for the destitute. No, I won't be joining this Tide of spending, gorging, boosting during this YuleTide season.

yuri said...

Dear Shravasti Dhammika, your message — no doubt sincere and metta-motivated — sounds a bit like messages made by Christian pastors. Even that Season for being generous... Like them saying: «I know you can't be generous all the time, but try to be during the Christmastide and save your souls!» Hypocrisy depreciates such generosity. Jesus objected to it strongly and in Thomas' Gospel we read: Jesus said to them, "If you fast, you will give rise to sin for yourselves; and if you pray, you will be condemned; and if you give alms, you will do harm to your spirits.” And more: "Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of Truth. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered." The Buddha saw in generosity a cure against avarice and strongly recommended it. But I feel that Jesus' warning should also be heeded. (A bit verbose again, I'm afraid :)