illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
On practising Generosity
and asking for your support…
« This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “There are these two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things & a gift of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: a gift of the Dhamma. There are these two kinds of sharing: sharing of material things & sharing of the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: sharing of the Dhamma. There are these two kinds of assistance: assistance with material things & assistance with the Dhamma. Of the two, this is supreme: help with the Dhamma.” » (Iti 3.49)
« Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness. When one desires to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being, then generosity —in action, word, and thought— is this desire put into practice. It is important to recognise the “generosity” here refers not just to giving in a material sense, but to generosity of the heart. » —HHDL Tenzin Gyatso
My response to the current situation and teaching
My vow is to help anyone Awaken in this very life. I know I cannot Awaken “for you,” but I might be able to help remove hindrances, expose confusions, challenge barriers, tear veils off…
When I started writing, sharing and teaching in November 2011, I did so with a clear intention to share the Dharma with anyone who was interested. I write on google+ because there is no payment system, no subscription basis, no platform for hammering adverts or directing readers to other sites for personal gain. I wanted access to my posts to remain direct, easy, and free for all, irrespective of origin, religion, economic means, etc.
What I have shared has been from a genuine attempt at “seeing things as they are,” without clinging to any specific tradition or accepting Buddhist teachings out of reverence, but also without rejecting teachings out of some ‘modern’ presumptions (e.g. questioning why modern science has relegated ‘rebirth’ to merely an old Indian myth not worth visiting).
I teach without an exotic “dharma name,” title, or claims of lineage. My aim is to explain to the best of my limited abilities what I've enquired into and realised; there is no warranty on the tin! I don't provide anyone with certainties, however, I am a lot more available to respond to people's questions than the Dalai Lama! This is how I want to teach; to be among people. I do not want a pedestal. I am a joint-explorer, with a compass and a few maps, and still on the Bodhisattva path.
Teaching, for me, means staying ‘approachable’ and giving support —answering questions, providing references, actively engaging in the threads of comments— both publicly (via my posts, the posts of others when explicitly ‘tagged,’ and in communities such as “Buddhism and Meditation” or “Buddhism Q&A”) and privately, by giving guidance via personal communications for people wishing to avoid the public scrutiny of their difficulties.
This has been my practice of Dāna (generosity): to write, share and teach, and hopefully transforming my time into value for you.
To continue, I am now asking for your generosity.
For the past year and half, I have been writing, teaching and funding my studies on my savings. Whichever way you have come to find me (among my 27,500+ followers, among the 33,600+ people in “Buddhism & Meditation” or the 1,600+ people in “Buddhism Q&A”…) and whether you have been following my posts since November 2011 or more recently, you will appreciate the time and energy that has been required of me to contribute 365+ public posts, as well as my interaction in these specific communities. I endeavour to tailor (upāya) my responses to the conditions and circumstances of each individual, in spite of the limitations imposed by an indirect communication across time zones and cultures.
In order to maintain the standards and level of engagement of the vibrant community that has been created, and to support this worldwide saṃgha further, I am now asking for your generosity. After a year and half without paid employment, I need your support to live practically and frugally; food, water, clothes, a roof… and also a computer and Internet connection.
Please support the saṃgha at large (including yourself) by funding me as a teacher. I wish to continue to tirelessly reach out to all online (Buddhists and non-Buddhists) and propagate the Dharma in a non-sectarian way, free of charge. I don't pretend for a second that I do so perfectly, but I believe some of you will recognise that I do so genuinely, wholeheartedly, and with care.
« A giver of food is a giver of strength. A giver of clothes, a giver of beauty. A giver of a vehicle, a giver of ease. A giver of a lamp, a giver of vision. And the one who gives a residence, is the one who is a giver of everything. But the one who teaches the Dhamma is a giver of the Deathless. » (SN 1.42, Kindada sutta —“a giver of what”)
« Just as a filled pot, which is overturned, pours out all of its water, leaving nothing back, exactly so should one give to those worthy & to the needy whether low, middle or high: like the overturned pot, holding nothing back. » (Jātaka Nidāna 128–129)
We might easily notice the cyclical perpetuation of saṃsāric existence in our constant internal debate between stinginess and generosity, between clinging to and loosening our grip on what is “ours.”
As soon as we give, we easily start narratives about fairness and put limits in place in order to teach the receiver “how to fish” rather than endlessly sharing our ‘own’ catch… We easily fall back on ‘our’ needs and the needs of ‘our’ family. We are usually less generous towards an anonymous family like the saṃgha; we know about inter-dependence but we're somehow happy to stay non-Enlightened if it allows us to cling to our possessions!
Generosity is the first pāramitā (perfection) to be cultivated along the Bodhisattva path. When giving, Buddhism suggests impartiality or upekkhā (equanimity) —a view that all beings are worthy of our mettā (care and concern): while “all beings” includes your relatives, the practice is to cultivate a generosity without ‘ordering,’ fully appreciative of inter-dependence of the whole web of existence.
In such a perspective, there is no doubt that your support of a teacher for an online worldwide saṃgha of 27,500+ people (or nearly 60,000 people when adding the communities, without double-counting) would be a wholesome act, regardless of how much you give!
so I can continue teaching and supporting people.
You can do so at (the bottom of) www.koan.mu/donate.htm
photo: Monk in Shibuya station, © Diego Malara