The Perfection of Generosity - When giving is a perfection



Most people know that generosity is the giving away of things for the benefit and happiness of others. Laypeople cannot give away all their possessions because they still cling to sense objects, but when there is an opportunity for generosity they should practise it. If one is unable to give away something one possesses, be it small or great, for the benefit of others, it will be so much harder to give up the clinging and attachment to the nama dhammas and rupa dhammas one takes for self, beings and persons. 

Therefore, it is necessary to give away things for the benefit and happiness of others as much as one is able to, in order to eliminate defilements, including attachment to possessions as well as clinging to nama dhammas and rupa dhammas one takes for beings, people and self. Thus, in our daily life we should not neglect the development of the perfection of generosity. We should know whether our generosity is a perfection or not. No matter how much we give away, generosity is not a perfection if we do not see the need to eradicate defilements. People who have understanding of the Dhamma and practise generosity should consider whether their generosity is a perfection. If someone gives away things without expecting a reward, not even rebirth in a heavenly plane, then his generosity can be a perfection. However, if someone wants to receive a reward, when he wishes for rebirth as a millionaire, or for rebirth in different heavenly planes, or if he wants to receive gain, honour and praise, then his life is still bound up with all kinds of expectations, and his goal is not the eradication of defilements. If we reflect about this we can know whether our giving at a specific moment is a perfection or not.

The perfection of generosity is a condition to cross over to the further shore, namely, the eradication of defilements, different from the realm of defilements. It is an extremely long way to reach the further shore, the eradication of defilements; it is not easy to reach it. We should clearly understand what the eradication of defilements means. Therefore, we should know whether at the moment of giving we are hoping for a reward or not. Giving that eliminates lobha, attachment, is giving with the aim to eradicate defilements, and that means that we should not expect any kind of reward.


Topic 277



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