The Perfection of Generosity - Giving of freedom from danger and fear.

There is another kind of dana, generosity, and this is abhayadana, the giving of freedom from danger and fear.

We read in the “Gradual Sayings”, Book of the Eights, H IV, §9, Outcomes of Merit, about eight outcomes (yields) of merit: going for refuge to the Triple Gem and five gifts. We read about these five gifts:

“Herein, monks,

a noble disciple gives up the taking of life and abstains from it.

By abstaining from the taking of life,

the noble disciple gives to immeasurable beings freedom from fear,

gives to them freedom from hostility,

and freedom from oppression.

By giving to immeasurable beings freedom from fear, hostility and oppression,

he himself will enjoy immeasurable freedom from fear, hostility and oppression...”

The same is said about the abstaining from stealing, sexual misconduct, wrong speech and intoxicants. Thus, síla can also be considered under the aspect of dana. Abstaining from deeds that harm others as well as giving protection from danger is included in giving freedom from fear, abhayadana. Moreover, also forgiving can be seen as an aspect of giving freedom from fear. When we forgive someone, we do not give in to ill feelings or revenge.

If someone does not know that forgiving is a perfection he will not forgive someone else who has done him wrong. If we do not forgive others how can we attain enlightenment and eradicate defilements? If we consider this it may be a condition for the gift of freedom from fear. This is a way of generosity higher than the giving of material things, amisa dana. If we cannot forgive someone we do not like, it means also that we cannot develop other kinds of kusala with regard to this person. If we do not forgive him or if we are still angry with him, we cannot be generous to him, we cannot even give him material things. Neither can we give him the gift of Dhamma, Dhamma dana, in helping him with Dhamma discussion, or advise him as to what is beneficial in life and what is not beneficial.

The gift of freedom from fear is a condition for the perfection of morality, síla parami, to develop; it is the condition for abstinence from wrong action and speech. If we do not forgive someone else, our conduct will not be that of a friend and thus kusala cannot develop. How could we then cross over to the further shore, namely, the eradication of defilements?

This shows us that our consideration of the nature of kusala in daily life should be very refined. A person who develops panna that can realize the four noble Truths, should know the nature of his citta; he should know when he is mentally ill and has no moral strength. If that is the case, how could he travel the extremely long road that is the eightfold Path? He should consider the nature of his citta, so that he can gain strength of citta by means of the perfections. He may know that the Path is satipatthana, the development of understanding of the characteristics of realities; but sati does not arise if the perfections are not strong enough for the realization of the four noble Truths. We all should develop the ten perfections with panna, also when we practise generosity in our daily life. We should know the truth, we should know the difference between giving without panna and giving with panna, such as in the case of the Bodhisatta who gave with panna. In this way we can consider and understand the perfection of truthfulness, sincerity for kusala, so that we can follow in the the footsteps of the Bodhisatta who developed the perfections during each life. He did not develop in one life just the perfection of morality, and in another life just the perfection of renunciation, but he developed all ten perfections, without exception, during each life.

Topic 277