Practicing Generosity

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How much? More than you think

Some provide from the little they have, Others who are affluent don't like to give. An offering given from what little one has is worth a thousand times its value.

Samyutta Nikaya I.18

The Buddha used the word cage to refer to the inner virtue of generosity that ensures that dana is connected to the Path. This use of cage is particularly significant because it also means "relinquishment" or "renunciation." An act of generosity entails giving more than is required, customary, or expected relative to one's resources and circumstances. Certainly it involves relinquishment of stinginess, clinging and greed. In addition, generosity entails relinquishing some aspects of one's self-interest, and thus is a giving of one's self.

The Buddha stressed that the spiritual efficacy of a gift is dependent not on the amount given but rather on the attitude with which it is given. A small donation that stretches a person of little means is considered of greater spiritual consequence than a large but personally insignificant donation from a wealthy person.

One who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Tao Te Ching

Reflect on how your attitudes around giving mirror your own sense of prosperity. Consider that however much you have, you can feel like you have enough to share or you can feel like you don't have enough. Reflect on how this feeling is independent of what you actually have. Do you know the saying "poverty mentality?"

How much do you need in order to have enough to share? How does giving affect your feeling of having enough? Could giving away some of what you have make you feel richer?

If you have little, give a little; if you have a middling amount, give a middling amount; if you have much, give much. It is not fitting not to give at all. Kosiya, I say to you, Share your wealth, use it. Thread the path of the Noble Ones. One who eats alone eats not happily.

Jataka V382

Even if one throws away the rinsing from a pot or a cup into the village pool or pond, wishing that the living beings there may feed on them - even this would be a source of merit, not to speak of giving a gift to human beings.

Anguttara Nikaya III.57