The Perfection of Generosity - A higher kind of giving

Besides generosity by way of material aid, there is a higher kind of giving, and that is the giving of Dhamma. This is actually the gift of right understanding which will be beneficial both in this life and also in the lives to come. When we give material things to people who are needy and poor, this has only a temporary effect for them. We may not take into consideration the root cause of their poverty. The fact that people are poor is the result of akusala kamma, and so long as one commits akusala kamma there are conditions for rebirth as a poor person.

Besides assistance in a material way, we should help people by going to the root cause of their poverty, and that is, helping them to have right understanding of the truth of the Dhamma. Thus we shall see that we are really able to help each other in daily life, both with material gifts and with the gift of Dhamma. By the gift of Dhamma we help others to gain right understanding of the Dhamma and to apply the Dhamma as well. Moreover, helping people to gain right understanding of the Dhamma can be a condition for them also to develop more kusala:  generosity, morality and mental development.

Therefore, a person practises loving-kindness, metta, when he helps others in different ways to understand the Dhamma, by propagating it through radio programs, by printing Dhamma books, by Dhamma discussions, by explaining the Dhamma, without expecting a result for himself. In that case his actions of generosity are a perfection, leading to the eradication of defilements. He has the firm understanding that developing kusala not bound up with lobha, attachment, is development of the perfections. Some people who like to propagate the Dhamma want to evaluate the result of their good deeds. However, the true result of someone’s efforts has nothing to do with the number of people who listen to the Dhamma he tries to propagate or the amount of good deeds he has performed for this purpose. The result of his efforts manifests itself in the citta of the listener who is thus better able to develop his understanding further and to apply the Dhamma.

When someone who listens to the Dhamma gains right understanding, he accumulates sincerity, and this is the perfection of truthfulness, sacca parami. He also accumulates the perfection of determination: he has an unshakeable conviction of his aim, that is, the eradication of defilements. We can evaluate the benefit of listening to the Dhamma at this very moment: have we accumulated more kusala and eliminated akusala?

Topic 277