Dāna – the practice of giving – is a fundamental cultivation for Buddhists. We are often encouraged to offer alms to Sangha members, perform service at temples, monasteries and Dhamma centres, as well as provide advice and encouragement to our friends. Giving enables us to experience deeper joy because it is not reliant on material gain, instead it opens up our hearts to connect with others.
However, we sometimes face frustration in giving when others don’t appreciate us, or when people still don’t change after all the advice we give. That is because we have lost sight of the real purpose of generosity, which is to cultivate the quality of liberality (cāga); to give without expectations and attachments.
It is not simply about the physical act of giving but rather developing the ability to care and share, and the gradual inward transformation towards relinquishment. This then naturally loosens the knots of greed, covetousness and hatred, freeing us to feel happier and more at peace within. The joy that we can experience from liberal giving is truly a treasure that can’t be taken away.
Giving is simple. Do it with a pure heart.
Overcome anger through kindness, wickedness through goodness,
selfishness through generosity, and falsehood through truthfulness.
Dhammapada verse 223