On Generosity & Offerings

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pemachophel
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On Generosity & Offerings

Post by pemachophel » Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:29 pm

Tulku Sherdor of Blazing Wisdom in Saugerties, NY, and heart-son of Orgyen Kusum Lingpa, posted the following on FB today. I thought it was useful and so am re-posting it here. I've put it under Tibetan Buddhism because He makes a number of allusions to specifically Vajrayana Buddhism.

Twenty Simple Guidelines to Making Offerings

For those like me who were not brought up as ‘Dharma people,’

Offerings are a skillful means to accomplish the two aims, by supporting the three jewels and serving the needs of sentient beings, while gathering merit and virtue that will ripen as positive conditions and qualities within yourself.

It is therefore fine, indeed excellent, to make offerings without making any request or receiving anything in return. Always be sure to dedicate the merit and virtue of your offerings on behalf of others and your own highest aspirations.

Generally speaking, it is best not to make requests for prayers, rituals or other spiritual services without the support of material offerings. A material or physical support works as a conducive, grounding condition for effectuating skillful means in every aspect of dharma practice. In tantric terms, it is a species of mudra—pure motivation and view crystallized into form.

That is why we make physical and not just mental prostrations, offer actual and not just mental mandalas (or at least have a ‘support’ mandala on a shrine table when we offer the latter), offer tormas and lamps and chalices of tea, and so on.

The machinery of higher attainments is fueled by sweaty palms and emptied pockets. Generosity is the first transcendent virtue for excellent reasons. Don’t imagine that you can perfect the paramitas of absorption and wisdom without the benefits of practicing three-fold generosity. It won’t work.
For the same reason, don’t spend your merit as fast as you earn it, by dedicating it to the worldly rather than transcendent dharmas. Don’t hope for or expect praise, popularity, good position in the community, or any other type of rewarding treatment in exchange for your offerings.

Also, don’t ever regret having made an offering with pure motivation, not even if you discover the recipient is a scoundrel. Your own change of heart can damage your merit, but their venal heart cannot. Instead, have compassion toward them and multiply your virtue. Next time, offer to someone else whom you trust and who will use the offering wisely and skillfully.

Sometimes we see that monasteries have ‘schedules’ for donations. This is a skillful and kind way to make it easier for well-meaning sponsors to know what options are available, and fit within their means. For example, it can be helpful to know that the equivalent of $50 will suffice to make a tea offering during a puja to all of the hundreds of sangha members gathered in the assembly hall, dedicated on behalf of an ill or deceased loved one.
But don’t mistake this for a price list, or think that prayers or merit are purchased. You cannot buy prayers, because real prayers can only be offered straight from the heart with purest intentions, not performed as a contractual obligation or consideration.

It is always appropriate to offer according to your means, whether vast or modest. A traditional rule of thumb is to offer at least ten percent of your earnings each year to the three jewels and to needy beings or worthy charitable causes. To benefit a deceased person, try to offer one-third of their net estate value to the three jewels, one-third to other charities, and keep one-third for the family.

If you want to make a prayer request, it is good to offer an amount that challenges your resources. It will open your heart, remove obstacles, and create tendrel for success on every level.

Don’t plead poverty falsely to avoid practicing generosity, or even to gather support under false pretenses. This is enormously problematic, and is the exact cause for becoming a hungry spirit.

Saying that you have no money for offerings because you are a renunciate practitioner is not legitimate if you are not actually practicing four to six formal sessions (at least six to twelve hours) each and every day, with dedication for the benefit of all, or spending that much time offering your services and labor to the three jewels explicitly. Being another’s dependent without being a dedicated practitioner is called a ne’er do well, a schnorrer, or a bum.
Similarly, if all your basic survival needs are covered, and you can borrow some cash, charge a credit card, or sell an inessential personal item for funds to make an important offering, don’t claim poverty. Don’t ask to attend dharma programs for free, don’t attend and make no or minimum offerings, don’t ask for prayers gratis. His Holiness Orgyen Kusum Lingpa said that anyone who attends a Mahayana teaching without wishing to make offerings is a demon in the guise of a dharma student.

In the same vein, if you can easily find a short-term or part-time job to raise a little more money in order to make offerings, but prefer not to, don’t claim poverty. If by cutting back (making your own coffee for a month instead of buying from Starbucks; using a pre-paid cell phone instead of an expensive monthly contract; giving up cable television and movies for a period of time) you can make more offerings, but prefer not to do so, you are not poor, you are habituated and attached to trivial luxuries and diversions.

If you request prayers for a specific purpose, such as on behalf of a deceased relative, try to make the offering on that person’s behalf at the time of the request. This is best. If at all possible, offer the funds directly from that person’s property or estate; but if that is not possible, it is okay to use your own.
At the very least, make the offerings as soon as you know that the specific prayers or services/rituals have been performed as requested. This is acceptable.

Never make such a request, and then hedge or delay making the offerings for no better reason than your own anxieties, fears, miserliness or procrastination. This is really terrible for you and for the person on whose behalf you made the request. It depletes rather than gathers merit, is miserly rather than generous, and inauspicious for the ill or deceased. You cannot ask to sponsor prayers and then expect or hope to be billed later, or never. Never put the monastery or Lama in the embarrassing position of having to ask after your donation. They won’t do it, and it is your loss.
Of course, under exceptional circumstances it may happen that funds are not available to you when expected. As soon as this happens, be very open and honest and humble about it, and make an alternate arrangement.

Finally, while it is fine to seek advice from other trusted sangha members, don’t ever feel obliged to let anyone else decide what, and how much, you should offer. You offer in order to gain wisdom and merit, develop skill, and overcome and purify your own bad habits and limiting views, not to follow anybody’s rule. Don’t abdicate responsibility for your own training.

Offered with love and respect for all, by Walshul Dorje Nyima’i Yangsid [i.e, the reincarnation of Walshul Dorje Nyima, a Golokpa Lama from Orgyen Kusum Lingpa's family. Walshul is the name of the tribe. My addition, LPC]
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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明安 Myoan
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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by 明安 Myoan » Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:54 pm

:bow:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

如傑優婆塞
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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:04 am

A traditional rule of thumb is to offer at least ten percent of your earnings each year to the three jewels and to needy beings or worthy charitable causes. And the source for this is? Or is it just his opinion?

Also, don’t ever regret having made an offering with pure motivation, not even if you discover the recipient is a scoundrel. Your own change of heart can damage your merit, but their venal heart cannot. Instead, have compassion toward them and multiply your virtue.
Is this an example of magical thinking or 'idiot compassion' as one running thread suggests?

:thanks:

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Miroku » Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:37 am

A really good text. It did touch some weak points of mine. Time to do better dana-wise.
如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:04 am
A traditional rule of thumb is to offer at least ten percent of your earnings each year to the three jewels and to needy beings or worthy charitable causes. And the source for this is? Or is it just his opinion?

Also, don’t ever regret having made an offering with pure motivation, not even if you discover the recipient is a scoundrel. Your own change of heart can damage your merit, but their venal heart cannot. Instead, have compassion toward them and multiply your virtue.
Is this an example of magical thinking or 'idiot compassion' as one running thread suggests?

:thanks:
It is based on Sigalovada Sutta.

https://buddhaweekly.com/buddha-protect ... ada-sutta/ That is an article about it.

This is the sutta. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... vIBi-4uQ-c

And this is FB page of Khenpo Sodargye who will be teaching on the Sutta on 28th (so tomorrow or today, depends when you read it.) https://www.facebook.com/Sodargye/?__tn ... FizUSl064e

And it is not an example of it. Because you are instead increasing your virtue by working with yourself and instead of being bitter or angry you develop virtue.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:55 am

It is based on Sigalovada Sutta.
Is that what Tulku Sherdor of Blazing Wisdom in Saugerties, NY, and heart-son of Orgyen Kusum Lingpa said? Or is that your own assertion?

By the way, this is what the Sutta states:
By dividing wealth into four parts,
True friendships are bound;
One part should be enjoyed;
Two parts invested in business;
And the fourth set aside
Against future misfortunes.


Again, this is what's cited from Tulku Sherdor of Blazing Wisdom in Saugerties, NY, and heart-son of Orgyen Kusum Lingpa:
A traditional rule of thumb is to offer at least ten percent of your earnings each year to the three jewels and to needy beings or worthy charitable causes.

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:31 am

And it is not an example of it. Because you are instead increasing your virtue by working with yourself and instead of being bitter or angry you develop virtue.
Right... Now, may I suggest of more serious scenarios, like actual victims of miscreant teachers & organisations for instance. The lost years of resources and trust given to them in bona fide only to find out that they weren't what they claim to be after all and on top of that, some were harmed in the process. It goes without saying on the point of working on oneself but since when it's not a virtue to exercise the legal right of taking action against them to obtain justice & address the grievances for sexual or financial misconduct? Or is one expected to just shrug and treat it as a failed investment? What about those ex members or disciples who crusade against their miscreant ex teachers & ex organisations? There needs to be a more thoroughbred attitude and action plan in place than 'simplistic' thinking in my poor opinion...

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Sherab Rigdrol » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:11 am

pemachophel wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:29 pm
Tulku Sherdor of Blazing Wisdom in Saugerties, NY, and heart-son of Orgyen Kusum Lingpa, posted the following on FB today. I thought it was useful and so am re-posting it here. I've put it under Tibetan Buddhism because He makes a number of allusions to specifically Vajrayana Buddhism.

Twenty Simple Guidelines to Making Offerings

For those like me who were not brought up as ‘Dharma people,’

Offerings are a skillful means to accomplish the two aims, by supporting the three jewels and serving the needs of sentient beings, while gathering merit and virtue that will ripen as positive conditions and qualities within yourself.

It is therefore fine, indeed excellent, to make offerings without making any request or receiving anything in return. Always be sure to dedicate the merit and virtue of your offerings on behalf of others and your own highest aspirations.

Generally speaking, it is best not to make requests for prayers, rituals or other spiritual services without the support of material offerings. A material or physical support works as a conducive, grounding condition for effectuating skillful means in every aspect of dharma practice. In tantric terms, it is a species of mudra—pure motivation and view crystallized into form.

That is why we make physical and not just mental prostrations, offer actual and not just mental mandalas (or at least have a ‘support’ mandala on a shrine table when we offer the latter), offer tormas and lamps and chalices of tea, and so on.

The machinery of higher attainments is fueled by sweaty palms and emptied pockets. Generosity is the first transcendent virtue for excellent reasons. Don’t imagine that you can perfect the paramitas of absorption and wisdom without the benefits of practicing three-fold generosity. It won’t work.
For the same reason, don’t spend your merit as fast as you earn it, by dedicating it to the worldly rather than transcendent dharmas. Don’t hope for or expect praise, popularity, good position in the community, or any other type of rewarding treatment in exchange for your offerings.

Also, don’t ever regret having made an offering with pure motivation, not even if you discover the recipient is a scoundrel. Your own change of heart can damage your merit, but their venal heart cannot. Instead, have compassion toward them and multiply your virtue. Next time, offer to someone else whom you trust and who will use the offering wisely and skillfully.

Sometimes we see that monasteries have ‘schedules’ for donations. This is a skillful and kind way to make it easier for well-meaning sponsors to know what options are available, and fit within their means. For example, it can be helpful to know that the equivalent of $50 will suffice to make a tea offering during a puja to all of the hundreds of sangha members gathered in the assembly hall, dedicated on behalf of an ill or deceased loved one.
But don’t mistake this for a price list, or think that prayers or merit are purchased. You cannot buy prayers, because real prayers can only be offered straight from the heart with purest intentions, not performed as a contractual obligation or consideration.

It is always appropriate to offer according to your means, whether vast or modest. A traditional rule of thumb is to offer at least ten percent of your earnings each year to the three jewels and to needy beings or worthy charitable causes. To benefit a deceased person, try to offer one-third of their net estate value to the three jewels, one-third to other charities, and keep one-third for the family.

If you want to make a prayer request, it is good to offer an amount that challenges your resources. It will open your heart, remove obstacles, and create tendrel for success on every level.

Don’t plead poverty falsely to avoid practicing generosity, or even to gather support under false pretenses. This is enormously problematic, and is the exact cause for becoming a hungry spirit.

Saying that you have no money for offerings because you are a renunciate practitioner is not legitimate if you are not actually practicing four to six formal sessions (at least six to twelve hours) each and every day, with dedication for the benefit of all, or spending that much time offering your services and labor to the three jewels explicitly. Being another’s dependent without being a dedicated practitioner is called a ne’er do well, a schnorrer, or a bum.
Similarly, if all your basic survival needs are covered, and you can borrow some cash, charge a credit card, or sell an inessential personal item for funds to make an important offering, don’t claim poverty. Don’t ask to attend dharma programs for free, don’t attend and make no or minimum offerings, don’t ask for prayers gratis. His Holiness Orgyen Kusum Lingpa said that anyone who attends a Mahayana teaching without wishing to make offerings is a demon in the guise of a dharma student.

In the same vein, if you can easily find a short-term or part-time job to raise a little more money in order to make offerings, but prefer not to, don’t claim poverty. If by cutting back (making your own coffee for a month instead of buying from Starbucks; using a pre-paid cell phone instead of an expensive monthly contract; giving up cable television and movies for a period of time) you can make more offerings, but prefer not to do so, you are not poor, you are habituated and attached to trivial luxuries and diversions.

If you request prayers for a specific purpose, such as on behalf of a deceased relative, try to make the offering on that person’s behalf at the time of the request. This is best. If at all possible, offer the funds directly from that person’s property or estate; but if that is not possible, it is okay to use your own.
At the very least, make the offerings as soon as you know that the specific prayers or services/rituals have been performed as requested. This is acceptable.

Never make such a request, and then hedge or delay making the offerings for no better reason than your own anxieties, fears, miserliness or procrastination. This is really terrible for you and for the person on whose behalf you made the request. It depletes rather than gathers merit, is miserly rather than generous, and inauspicious for the ill or deceased. You cannot ask to sponsor prayers and then expect or hope to be billed later, or never. Never put the monastery or Lama in the embarrassing position of having to ask after your donation. They won’t do it, and it is your loss.
Of course, under exceptional circumstances it may happen that funds are not available to you when expected. As soon as this happens, be very open and honest and humble about it, and make an alternate arrangement.

Finally, while it is fine to seek advice from other trusted sangha members, don’t ever feel obliged to let anyone else decide what, and how much, you should offer. You offer in order to gain wisdom and merit, develop skill, and overcome and purify your own bad habits and limiting views, not to follow anybody’s rule. Don’t abdicate responsibility for your own training.

Offered with love and respect for all, by Walshul Dorje Nyima’i Yangsid [i.e, the reincarnation of Walshul Dorje Nyima, a Golokpa Lama from Orgyen Kusum Lingpa's family. Walshul is the name of the tribe. My addition, LPC]
Reads like one big guilt trip.

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Miroku
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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Miroku » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:43 am

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:31 am
And it is not an example of it. Because you are instead increasing your virtue by working with yourself and instead of being bitter or angry you develop virtue.
Right... Now, may I suggest of more serious scenarios, like actual victims of miscreant teachers & organisations for instance. The lost years of resources and trust given to them in bona fide only to find out that they weren't what they claim to be after all and on top of that, some were harmed in the process. It goes without saying on the point of working on oneself but since when it's not a virtue to exercise the legal right of taking action against them to obtain justice & address the grievances for sexual or financial misconduct? Or is one expected to just shrug and treat it as a failed investment? What about those ex members or disciples who crusade against their miscreant ex teachers & ex organisations? There needs to be a more thoroughbred attitude and action plan in place than 'simplistic' thinking in my poor opinion...
Sorry, but something I have read as a simple giving money to a friend who wastes it, or a beggar who gets high on it, you have interpreted in this large scale. This argument is not mine. I have never stated you should not seek justice. Neither did it state the original post.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Miroku » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:44 am

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:55 am
It is based on Sigalovada Sutta.
Is that what Tulku Sherdor of Blazing Wisdom in Saugerties, NY, and heart-son of Orgyen Kusum Lingpa said? Or is that your own assertion?

By the way, this is what the Sutta states:
By dividing wealth into four parts,
True friendships are bound;
One part should be enjoyed;
Two parts invested in business;
And the fourth set aside
Against future misfortunes.


Again, this is what's cited from Tulku Sherdor of Blazing Wisdom in Saugerties, NY, and heart-son of Orgyen Kusum Lingpa:
A traditional rule of thumb is to offer at least ten percent of your earnings each year to the three jewels and to needy beings or worthy charitable causes.
I assumed it based on my memory and it appears to be wrong.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Bristollad » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:03 am

Giving 10 percent of your earnings is tithing, a traditional Judeo-Christian practice.

see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tithe

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by pemachophel » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:07 pm

Sherab Rigdrol,

I agree the tone is a little off-putting. I think Tulku Sherdor is leaking some of His frustration dealing with Western Dharma students. I think He's responding to the very tough position some of His students place Him in. As a Teacher, He can't directly tell His students they need to offer more, especially to Him, but, at the same time, as a Teacher, if He doesn't instruct His students how Buddhists in Asia traditionally practice dana paramita, then He's not fulfilling His role as a Teacher. So this puts Him in a very awkward and uncomfortable position. Being an American Lama, it is a situation I know all too well. In my experience with Tibetan Teachers, many feel that Western students are very stingy and don't really understand the value of the Dharma.

Britollad,

I agree, "tithing" is mostly a Judeo-Christian teaching. I have never heard of giving away 10% of annual income referred to in any Asian Buddhist teachings. However, since we (at least we as Americans) live in a historically Judeo-Christian culture, using the idea of tithing might be a skillful means for helping first generation Buddhist understand how to practice dana paramita. Having been brought up as a Christian, the concept of tithing resonates with me and it's what I and my family have long attempted to do. Doing less seems a little chintzy to me. I'd also agree that one size doesn't fit all.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Sherab Rigdrol » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:51 pm

pemachophel wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:07 pm
Sherab Rigdrol,

I agree the tone is a little off-putting. I think Tulku Sherdor is leaking some of His frustration dealing with Western Dharma students. I think He's responding to the very tough position some of His students place Him in. As a Teacher, He can't directly tell His students they need to offer more, especially to Him, but, at the same time, as a Teacher, if He doesn't instruct His students how Buddhists in Asia traditionally practice dana paramita, then He's not fulfilling His role as a Teacher. So this puts Him in a very awkward and uncomfortable position. Being an American Lama, it is a situation I know all too well. In my experience with Tibetan Teachers, many feel that Western students are very stingy and don't really understand the value of the Dharma.

Makes sense and that's how I read it (as a nod towards his own students), however why can't he directly address them. Wouldn't having that kind of transparency and personal directness be more practical? Just food for thought.

I think that most westerners entered the dharma coming from some judeo-christian background and as a result when asked to donate to dharma centers/teachers etc/ are more resistant to practice generosity.

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Bristollad » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:13 pm

pemachophel wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:07 pm
I agree, "tithing" is mostly a Judeo-Christian teaching. I have never heard of giving away 10% of annual income referred to in any Asian Buddhist teachings. However, since we (at least we as Americans) live in a historically Judeo-Christian culture, using the idea of tithing might be a skillful means for helping first generation Buddhist understand how to practice dana paramita. Having been brought up as a Christian, the concept of tithing resonates with me and it's what I and my family have long attempted to do. Doing less seems a little chintzy to me. I'd also agree that one size doesn't fit all.
Yes, I was simply addressing a possible source for the 10% suggestion. It makes sense to use established cultural patterns in a skilful way when possible.
:namaste:

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by LolCat » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:26 pm

How do traditional Buddhist cultures deal with the issue of Dana? Do they have an equivalent of a tithe? I can understand why a specific percentage is never mentioned in texts, but I would find it helpful to have a guideline.

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by pemachophel » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:59 pm

Sherab-la,

"I think that most westerners entered the dharma coming from some judeo-christian background and as a result when asked to donate to dharma centers/teachers etc/ are more resistant to practice generosity."

I'm not sure why you say this. Why would coming from a Judeo-Christian background make one resistant to practicing generosity?

In any case, I think the larger issue is that we shouldn't have to be asked to donate.

Tulku Sherdor was probably prompted to right this piece in response to His experience with His own students. But He did post this on Facebook. So it seems clear He was intending to reach a larger audience of Western Buddhists.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Sherab Rigdrol » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:01 pm

pemachophel wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:59 pm
Sherab-la,

"I think that most westerners entered the dharma coming from some judeo-christian background and as a result when asked to donate to dharma centers/teachers etc/ are more resistant to practice generosity."

I'm not sure why you say this. Why would coming from a Judeo-Christian background make one resistant to practicing generosity?

In any case, I think the larger issue is that we shouldn't have to be asked to donate.

Tulku Sherdor was probably prompted to right this piece in response to His experience with His own students. But He did post this on Facebook. So it seems clear He was intending to reach a larger audience of Western Buddhists.
Because they are some of the most corrupt institutions in the world.

I also know the importance of offering one's mind, body and speech to the Lama. I think there is a distinction between supporting institutional buddhism vs one's own teacher and their community. Again, I just think the tone of Tulku Sherdor's post was a bit off putting. People should practice generosity to the best of their abilities, but if their material offerings are limited for whatever reason they should not be shamed for it, or threatened with having no spiritual development as a result of not perfecting generosity. Just my .02 :anjali:

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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Grigoris » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:23 pm

Something I wrote last year for Loppon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche's sangha:

"Paying for teachings.

One of the issues that came up in informal discussion with other Sangha members during the retreat in Warsaw, was the subject of people refusing to pay for the teachings and empowerments.

Maybe this refusal is linked to an ignorance of the expenses involved in having Rinpoche and Amala here with us in Europe, to teach us and guide us in our practice.

Expenses include (and this is not a full list):

Food
Lodging
Transport (both national and international)
Visa costs
Rent for teaching spaces
Torma and tsok offerings (many people are happy to partake of tsok but do not provide)
Texts and tsakli (often organizers are stuck with extra copies of these)
etc…

Many times people personally request specific teachings from Rinpoche, but one never sees them making donations.

Generally this type of behavior fits into the model of taking but not giving (ie a complete lack of generosity and a predisposition to stinginess/meanness).

Another factor may be that people are unaware of the preciousness of these teachings and their value, or that they lack appreciation and respect for the teachings.

Some believe that Dharma should be for free, but they overlook the historical precedent which exists regarding making offerings (especially) for (Vajrayana) teachings. People would offer all manner of precious substances (and even their spouses) to their teachers in order to request teachings. People donated large tracts of land to the Buddha to show their appreciation for his gift of the Dharma.

For those that lack financial means there are other things that can be offered to the teacher: time and energy. Students can offer to assist Rinpoche in his tasks, they can help with cleaning (both the space where the teachings take place and where Rinpoche resides), cooking, they can offer food and beverages, they can offer professional or personal services, etc…

Then there is the issue of priorities: People are happy to pay hundreds of euro for a phone that is redundant as soon as it is produced, but will not offer anything for teachings that may end up being the source of their liberation from samsara. You see people refusing to pay for teachings and as soon as they leave the shrine they will go to a bar and drink beers, or a café for overly-priced coffee.

But really what saddens me the most is that people lose the opportunity to gain merit by offering to the Three Gems and the Three Roots that the teacher embodies. The thing that saddens me is their ignorance of positive tendrel (connection) to the teacher that happens through offering; the fact that they unaware of dependent origination and how greed will lead to lower rebirths. Basically, what saddens me is people’s ignorance of basic Dharma."
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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tobes
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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by tobes » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:43 pm

I want an each way bet on this.

What Grigoris and the OP suggest is of course true. There are practical considerations which, if we fail to take account of, will cause the Dharma to cease flourishing.

But there is perhaps a problem with expectations of receiving, whether stated, implied or assumed. Whatever has happened historically, this attitude is not genuine danaparamita, the highest form of which is giving Dharma teachings. To be danaparamita one must give without there being the slightest sense of giver (teacher), object (teaching) and receiver (student). So the expectation here, however subtle or understated, does rub against that a little. That's one issue, and I simply don't think it's correct that danaparamita only applies in one direction (i.e. to the students). Surely the teacher should demonstrate this to its most sublime degree? The bar is set very high - in Tsong Khapa's Lam Rim for example, one violates danaparamita the very moment one retains or holds any kind of property holding.

Connected with this is the moral exhortation - which becomes a kind of duty or obligation - to give. I think this is roughly akin to demanding that people be kinder or more compassionate. Of course we should have exemplary compassion, but there is something problematic about expecting or exhorting people to manifest it. True compassion also implies accepting people for where they are at, rejoicing in their merits/qualities and taking on their suffering (in this case, miserliness). Actually in the case of dana, I have found that as soon as it is expected to take a particular form (it could be material, it could be more abstract like time or labour), it makes it impossible to actually retain an intention of pure dana. Why? Because one is implicitly responding to a sense of duty or obligation. True dana implies that cetana makes this deliberation, not social pressure or a subtle sense of duty/obligation.

So all up I think it's trickier terrain than meets the eye.

One should really give everything, all the time; the path is basically an ontology of constant giving.

Who falls short of this? Most of us, most of the time.

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Grigoris
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Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Grigoris » Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:39 am

Sherab Rigdrol wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:11 am
Reads like one big guilt trip.
What is the reason why you feel guilty when you read this?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 20137
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: On Generosity & Offerings

Post by Grigoris » Fri Mar 29, 2019 11:41 am

如傑優婆塞 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:31 am
blah
Why does it sound to me like you are making (academic and spiritual bureaucratic) excuses to justify not donating?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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