Dana is a Pali word that means ‘generosity’ or ‘giving freely,’ and its practice has played a central role throughout Buddhism’s history.
Generosity is the first of the ten parami, or qualities of character, that the Buddha taught his students to cultivate as a way to lessen suffering, and increase joy. The true practice of generosity helps us to develop loving-kindness and compassion, deepen awareness of our interconnectedness, and encourages non-attachment.
Giving is said to benefit both the giver and the receiver – the giver practices sharing and letting go, and the recipient practices acceptance of what is presented. Offering to help a teacher in some way, or offering funds to help sustain a teacher is considered a sincere form of spiritual practice.
Here in the midst of contemporary Western culture, most Buddhist teachers rely on the generosity of their students for a sustainable income, as they receive only a minimal amount for their teachings when leading a class or retreat.
Traditionally, there is always an opportunity to offer contributions to your teacher at the end of a retreat or after a teaching, as well as anytime throughout the year. Your donations help your teacher to lead a life devoted to teaching. Your gifts also allow your teacher to take time for his or her own practice, ensuring that their teachings are continuously enriched.
Whenever you are inspired to offer a donation to your teacher, you join a community directly engaged in alleviating suffering and bringing greater wisdom and compassion to the world. May your practice be for the benefit of all.
Please know that your offering of dana is greatly appreciated!