The Perfection of Generosity - Giving of external objects II

If we really want to help someone, such as a person who is ill, we need to reflect with compassion on the way we will give him assistance. We should not just give without any discrimination, but we should also know to what extent our gift is suitable and useful to a sick person. We should know in detail what is kusala, and we should be discriminative, not neglectful of kusala. Just as a doctor should precisely know the condition of a person who is ill and the dosage of medicaments to be taken that is suitable for each individual, even so should we give with discrimination.
The Commentary states:

“Again, when asked,

he gives to householders things appropriate for householders,

and to monks things appropriate for monks.

He gives to his mother and father, kinsmen and relatives,

friends and colleagues, children, wife, slaves and workers,

without causing pain to anyone.

Having promised an excellent gift, he does not give something mean.

He does not give because he desires gain, honour or fame,

or because he expects something in return,

or out of expectation of some fruit other than the supreme enlightenment

(in the case of the Bodhisatta).

He does not give detesting the gift or those who ask.

He does not give a discarded object as a gift,

not even to unrestrained beggars who revile and abuse him.”


Each time we give, we should carefully investigate our citta. The citta should truly

be gentle and tender. We should not have contempt for the people who ask for

something or dislike the things we give; we should not give discarded objects,

not even to unrestrained beggars who revile and abuse us. 


Can we follow this up? The person who receives a gift may be annoyed, or

sometimes his behaviour may be most impolite. But still, the citta of the person

who gives can be gentle and tender. He can give without dislike of the receiver.

It may happen that the receiver is unrestrained in his behaviour, that his conduct

is improper, or that he reviles the person who gives; he may be angry, he may say

that the other person gives too little, or that he does not want to have the things

that are given. However, in spite of this, the citta of the giver should be steadfast

in kusala.


We read in the Commentary:


“He gives invariably with confidence, with compassion and respect.”


In this way one can eradicate one’s own defilements, also when giving.

The Commentary states:


“He does not give through belief in superstitious omens:

but he gives believing in kamma and its fruit.

When he gives he does not afflict those who ask by making them do homage to him, etc.;

but he gives without afflicting others.

He does not give a gift with the intention of deceiving others

or with the intention of injuring;

he gives only with an undefiled mind.

He does not give a gift with harsh words or a frown,

but with words of endearment, congenial speech, and a smile on his face.

Whenever greed for a particular object becomes excessive,

due to its high value and beauty, its antiquity,

or attachment accumulated since a long time,

the Bodhisatta recognizes his greed, quickly dispels it,

seeks out some recipients, and gives it away.”

  A person who understands himself well knows the extent of his clinging, he knows when he can give up something or when he cannot. Sometimes he may think of giving, but he is not able to give. However, as we read, it is different for the Bodhisatta. The passage quoted above deals with the giving of material goods, amisa dana.

Topic 277