Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Merits of Generosity..

Generosity is one of the virtue taught by Buddha. Generosity or Giving or Dana is something we all practice. Some consciously, some done but forgotten. Buying a friend a meal, giving a child a sweet, living a fish bone on the floor for a cat, giving way along the road, helping an old lady cross the road and releasing life...are Dana. The highest Dana is from the heart, offerings to the Buddhas. Sharing with you two stories on Dana - one during Buddha's time and one happened in today's society. Dana is something you will say..."what goes around comes around".

In Buddha's life time, there was an old beggar woman. Other than the rag she was wearing, her next property was a coin. She travelled far just to see Lord Buddha and hear him teach. Upon reaching the city, she went into a shop and asked if she can buy a small drop of oil with her coin. The merchant was unwilling as oil was expensive and the coin cannot even buy her a drop. The beggar woman borrowed a scissor and cut her hair. In ancient time, a woman's hair signifies her status and no one will simply cut her long hair. When the lady offered the hair to the merchant asking for a drop of oil, the merchant was moved by her sincerity. He gave her a small dish of oil. With this the beggar woman was so happy and she went to offer the lamp at the open meeting ground. People were sitting and many lamps in beautiful containers made of gold and sliver, big and small were lighted up. The whole place was beautiful and bright. The old woman said a prayer and laid her lamp among all the others. Lord Buddha started his teaching. The evil Devadatta using his magic power created strong wind. His purpose was to blow out all the lights so that Lord Buddha cannot continue his Teaching. Everyone was startled with this sudden strong wind. The stronger followers sat down and did not moved, others started running away when the lights were blown off. The whole place was dark, except for one tiny light from a small mud dish. It was shinning brightly and did not flickered a bit. Devedatta cannot believed his eyes and did another round of magic wind and much stronger this time. The tiny light remained unmoved. Everyone was amazed and awed by this sight. All those people running away came back and started to sit down. Their conviction of a good Teacher were even stronger. Devedatta realized that he was not able to dispersed the crowd with fear and darkness, he gave up and left. Lord Buddha went on with his Teachings. At the end of the discourse, devotees asked the Buddha. "My Dear Lord, what is it that all the lamps were blown off and that insignificant little oil lamp did not even flicker?" Buddha smiled and told all...that the little lamp was offered by a beggar lady who sold her hair. She has no money, no power, no authority, no status but she had a sincere heart that she wanted to give something to the Buddha. As long as one's intention is pure, no evil can harm him. This is why the little lamp lighted all the while from the strong wind to the end of the discourse and it was still burning. The oil was still at the same level when she lighted it.

Isn't this inspiring? Many of us do things because we wanted to do it. We have the capacity and the money to do good. It came so easily that we did not give a thought to how we should give it. The generosity of giving and the merits are still there. However giving with a sincere the most powerful of all. The lady did not pray for power, she did not pray for wealth, she did not pray to marry a rich man - so she has no hidden agenda accept for giving something to her precious Guru. Rejoice...rejoice...rejoice.

In real life, this happened to my brother. He visited a temple and before he leaves he wanted to do a little donation in a donation box. He felt his side pockets and came out with a S$10.00 note. This $10.00 was bus fares for his whole week and without hesitation he dropped it in the donation box. He walked home from the temple. Well, he strikes a lottery the following week. You may say it is chance, but I said it was his pure heart in giving.

Do Dana with yout heart, with no intention of gaining back anything from this act. If Dana is performed with intention, the act is no longer pure.

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