11/10/2021 – Joyful Dharma Reading Club
Topic: Buddha-Dharma: Pure & Simple—Understanding Generosity
A total of 35 readers joined the reading club facilitated by Venerable Ru Xing.
According to Venerable Master Hsing Yun, giving should be done in accordance with the Buddha-Dharma. It should not bring suffering or affliction to oneself. However, Venerable Ru Xing pointed out that sometimes we may do things that are not right or unwholesome, therefore we need to understand how to actualise the act of true ‘generosity’ based on the Buddha-Dharma.
Based on discussion and understanding of the readers, true generosity means giving without expecting returns, without notions or non-attachment, simply encapsulated with ‘joy’; the joy of giving by the giver and the joy of receiving by the receiver. The giver also possess a heart of gratitude and thankfulness that the receiver presents an opportunity for him to perform this act of giving.
Venerable Ru Xing agrees with the readers’ view points and she extracted a teaching from the ‘Paramita of Generosity’ which illustrates the three stages of Bodhisattva’s path to attain Buddhahood:
The first stage—perspective of the ‘Giver’. The Giver must perceive the whole act of giving to fulfil his merit to attain Buddhahood.
Second stage—the Giver needs to understand the things that he is keeping is temporary only; the person he is giving to is claiming back the things.
Third stage—in terms of the Receiver, he must have the thoughts of the Giver as his good and knowledgeable Teacher, one who teaches him how to give in an appropriate way and in accordance with the Buddha-dharma.
With these three thoughts in mind, we can cultivate the perfection of generosity by recognising there are no givers, no receivers and no gifts. This is also in accordance with the teachings in the Diamond Sutra.
Among the many examples of generosity in Buddhist sutras, there were ancient stories of the Buddha’s previous lives sacrificing his body and flesh to feed tigers and eagles. A few readers opined that while these acts are unrealistic and significantly difficult to emulate, but we can still practice these virtues by donating our blood or pledge to donate organs after death. These virtuous acts exemplify the highest state of generosity and according to Master, in actuality, accomplishing the first part of the saying—the “wish for all beings to be relieved from suffering” — is sufficient enough.
Some readers shared examples of activities they had done in actualising the giving of weath, giving of Dharma and the giving of fearlessness. An advice to take back from this article is that, in the course of every individual’s practice, there is no cultivation which is done in vain, everything has its causes and effects; all wholesome deeds have favorable outcomes. What is important is our understanding of the Buddha’s teachings—the Buddha expounded the Dharma to inspire, teach and benefit all beings and with this, we hope this Dharma session has enlightened everyone with joy and equanimity. The session ended with ‘A Prayer to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva for Safety and Protection’ and transference of merit.
May all beings live with peace and happiness!