Charity and perfection of giving in Buddhism
The spirit of true charity is to offer something without expecting anything reciprocally for the gift. If a person expects some material benefit to arise from his gift, he/she is only performing an act of bartering and not charity.
A charitable person shouldn’t make people feel indebted to him or use charity to control over them. He/she should not even expect others to be grateful, for most people are forgetful though not necessarily ungrateful. The act of true charity is wholesome, has no strings attached, and leaves both the giver and therefore the recipient free.
Buddhism views a charity as an act to scale back personal greed which is an unwholesome psychological state which hinders spiritual progress. an individual who is on his thanks to spiritual growth must attempt to reduce his own selfishness and his strong desire for acquiring more and more.
He/she should reduce his strong attachment to possessions which, if they are not mindful, can enslave them to greed. What they own or have should instead be used for the benefit and happiness of others: their loved ones also as those that need his help.
Table of Contents
- 1 - The Kinds of Charity
- 2 - Alms and merit
- 3 - Motivation
- 4 - Giving without attachment
- 5 - Charity in Early Buddhism
- 6 - Buddhist Charity today
- 7 - References
The Kinds of Charity
In Buddhist literature, the practice of charity is considered essential. In the Dharmasagraha, charity is said to be of three kinds:
- The charity of worldly things
- The charity of Dharma-truth
- The charity of fearlessness
Alms and merit
The art of giving has been in Buddhism for more than a hundred years. It has been a very long time that the people are encouraged to offer alms to monks, nuns, and temples, with the promise that such giving will make merit for the giver. It is believed that it will give peace and happiness along with fortune to the giver. It is usually done at the break of dawn when Buddhist monks begin their alms round. The people who’re giving are required to prepare water and food and wait for monks to approach them with their alms bowl. Also, making merit is not a reward and it is believed that it will bring fortune to the giver.
Buddhists give alms for many reasons. One of the reason is to honor deceased loved ones as it is believed they’ll not have to suffer in the afterlife
The practices Buddhist follows become their own motivation. No beliefs are required, and in fact, blindly-believing will close your mind and make it harder for you to learn from observation (we won’t see anything that contradicts our beliefs). You learn your practices from a qualified teacher …usually a Buddhist monk. The Buddha taught that once we give to others, we give without expectation of reward. We give without having any kind of bond to either the gift or the recipient. We practice giving to release greed and self-clinging.
Some teachers propose that giving is sweet because it accrues merit and creates karma which will bring future happiness. Others say that even this is often self-clinging and an expectation of reward. In many faculties, people are encouraged to dedicate merit to the liberation of others.
Giving without attachment
In Buddhism, Love means attachment without clinging. It also means caring without expecting anything from others. It is important to note that the Buddhist advice is not to detach from the people in your life or from your experiences, but rather to simply recognize the non-attachment that is inherent, to begin with. It is believed that attachments to people, events, images, and things tend to cause us pain. Attachment makes the human body feels only “me’’ and “everything else is mine”. Attachment leads to possessiveness and that results in controlling everything including friends, family, for own personal advantage.
Thus if you are giving something to others you should not expect what you get in return. Buddhism is all about letting things go, helping us break away from negative thoughts and behaviors that do not serve us, as well as loosening the grip of all our attachments. Also, the second truth of Buddhism states that “The origin of suffering is attachment”
Charity in Early Buddhism
Buddhist practice is vast and profound, but one of the key practices, especially at the beginning of the path, is that of giving, or generosity. There are three types of giving:
- Material giving
- The giving of fearlessness
- The giving of dharma
Material giving involves giving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, money to the poor, and so on. This also refers to giving people what they need on daily basis.
The giving of fearlessness
Giving of fearlessness means saving beings/lives, like insects or animals from drowning, flies caught in spiders’ webs, lobsters about to be boiled, or people in prison. This means protecting whoever or whatever being that is.
The giving of Dharma
Dharma is the teaching of the Buddha in Buddhism. The giving of dharma means making teachings available by creating and running Buddhist Centers, giving lectures, and publishing books. Overall, it refers to sharing whatever knowledge you have,
Dharma is what Buddhists call the teachings of the Buddha: the giving of dharma means making the teachings available by creating and running Buddhist centers, giving lectures, and publishing books
Buddhist Charity today
Today there are many Buddhist charities, some local, some international. Here are just a few:
Tzu Chi Foundation
Buddhist Compassionate Relief: Established in 1966 by Dharma Master Cheng Yen, a Taiwanese nun, Tzu Chi today has more than 500 offices in 50 countries and regions. Its millions of volunteers around the globe have built schools, offered medical care, and responded to disasters in 87 different countries, including the United States. Buddhist Global Relief: Founded by the American Theravadin monk Bikkhu Bodhi, BGR provides food aid to the hungry and malnourished, promotes ecologically sustainable agriculture, and supports education and other opportunities for girls and women.
Cambodia AIDS Project
This chaplaincy program supports AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, and other patients too poor to access traditional spiritual resources. The program also provides material support for caregivers, the elderly, the disabled, pregnant and breastfeeding women, prisoners, and others without access to the resources they need.
Lotus Outreach International
Lotus outreach provides education, health, and economic opportunity programs to over 30,000 women and children in India and Cambodia.
The Buddha Jyoti Himalayan Youth Club Nepal
Among other projects, this group operates Maitri Griha, a home for mentally handicapped children.