Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

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tomschwarz
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by tomschwarz »

archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:43 am
.

It seems a slightly unskilled use of one's own merits to spend time when a person *expects* you to help and is thereafter ungrateful.
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by AJP »

archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:43 am
I love to be generous. Even when I expect nothing in return. I don't mine anonymous generosity, in fact this can be the best kind.

However. I react differently when dealing with difficult people, or those who are so caught up in egocenteredness, who just expect others to help them without consideration to the sacrifice or effort made on their behalf.

It seems a slightly unskilled use of one's own merits to spend time when a person *expects* you to help and is thereafter ungrateful.

Did Buddha say anything about this?
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Queequeg »

archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:10 pm

In regards to your last paragraph, I do agree with the spirit of your words yet I know Buddha valued discernment as incredibly important on the path. Mindless exercising of dana seems to be the opposite of employing of discernment.
As a practical matter I agree. I'm personally at a loss when I consider these jataka stories. The Buddha is from a conventional perspective foolishly generous. I could not imagine giving my children away. And yet that's the story that has been handed down. In the name of generosity he causes his kingdom and family to suffer immensely. I assume there is a message in that.

I trust. I also admit I don't have the capacity to follow that example. I am far from awakening.
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And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

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archaic
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by archaic »

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:31 pm
archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:52 pm
If this topic was totally black and white, there would be no use for this thread. To me this is not a black and white issue, I am sorry if this violates your understanding.
It's not black and white, but putting conditions on generosity is not really generosity - this is arguably pretty basic Buddhist teaching. Not really engaging with the rest of the above proliferation.


Tell me, do you believe that conditions must necessarily be added for those living in the western world as layperson? I would love to give everything away and live as a monk, but I would be homeless in a very cold climate and could even die. Perhaps this is the point, I should not fear death, which I do not, however giving away everything would amound to suicide which violates the precepts.

Our society lives with the profit motive as the predominant religion. Greed is rampant. Hungry ghosts are EVERYWHERE. Those who would not hesitate to take everything, leaving one without even the means to survive.

There must be a way to choose generosity by applying conditions to avoid this extreme. We must be able to set limits to guide ourselves towards Right Action and Right Livelihood.

Most of your examples (things like giving an addict money for drugs etc.) aren't even an example of generosity in the first place, because typically they aren't motivated by any kind of altruistic drive. Ask anyone who has been involved in co dependent relationship with an addict, that kind of "giving" has nothing to do with generosity.


I see addictions everywhere. We are all addicted...
Some more than others to samskara... These whirlpools of desire without which we would not exist in form as defined by dependent origination.

This is why I ask... Because of the various layers of subtlety of defilements we possess. Granted, alcohol is an especially gross addiction, but all suffer from what we inflict on ourselves again and again. Most want what keeps them in suffering.

I see it can be extremely difficult to separate what harms, from what may harm, from what may not.... Dana would seem to require us to deduce potential benefit and potential harm both to the giver and the receiver.

So we must use wisdom. I personally don't know if a person is equally worth of merit if they show thankless disregard for a blessing, as opposed to if one were a Buddha.

Is not giving to a Buddha considered more meritous than giving to a hell being? By feeding the thankless versus the humble are we not feeding their ability to exist within delusion? I am not saying it is necessarily so, but it occurs to me as important to consider.

This is part of mindfulness in my understanding since the human condition is so complicated we must apply ourselves to understand the nuances of situations.

So basically, you are asking if you should set conditions on generosity, the basic Buddhist answer to this question is "no". Of course, other ways of thinking may have different things to say about it. Not setting conditions on one's generosity does not mean that you give anything to anyone who asks uncritically, it means that when you do so, you do so with no expectation of results, and you do not make the giving dependent on results that you prefer. But it does not preclude withholding something based on rational observation that giving someone something might make their situation worse, rather than better. That is the part which is "common sense".

It really is not complicated, if you know someone is going to do something harmful with what you give them, then you find another way to be generous, that is where discernment comes in, not in judging someone else's ethical use of your own generosity.


So you agree my limited thought forms must be used to discern the correct or wise application of Dana... Yes?

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by archaic »

Queequeg wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:32 pm
archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:10 pm

In regards to your last paragraph, I do agree with the spirit of your words yet I know Buddha valued discernment as incredibly important on the path. Mindless exercising of dana seems to be the opposite of employing of discernment.
As a practical matter I agree. I'm personally at a loss when I consider these jataka stories. The Buddha is from a conventional perspective foolishly generous. I could not imagine giving my children away. And yet that's the story that has been handed down. In the name of generosity he causes his kingdom and family to suffer immensely. I assume there is a message in that.

I trust. I also admit I don't have the capacity to follow that example. I am far from awakening.
These stories often have many layers. Unfortunately some seem difficult to apply without being a monastic... Although they are all useful to gain understanding from different perspectives.

Perhaps Buddha's spiritual message as perpetuated by his creation of the Sangha cured more suffering than his refusal to accept his father's kingdom... Today, even we even suffer less than if we did not receive this message.

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Grigoris »

archaic wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:02 pm
Tell me, do you believe that conditions must necessarily be added for those living in the western world as layperson? I would love to give everything away and live as a monk, but I would be homeless in a very cold climate and could even die. Perhaps this is the point, I should not fear death, which I do not, however giving away everything would amound to suicide which violates the precepts.

Our society lives with the profit motive as the predominant religion. Greed is rampant. Hungry ghosts are EVERYWHERE. Those who would not hesitate to take everything, leaving one without even the means to survive.

There must be a way to choose generosity by applying conditions to avoid this extreme. We must be able to set limits to guide ourselves towards Right Action and Right Livelihood.
Dude, you want to put conditions on your generosity? GO FOR IT! You don't have to justify it to us.

Your query has been answered from a number of different angles by a number of different people, and yet you keep busting chops. Are you looking for validation?

Okay, here it is:

Yes, you are 100% correct. People should bow down and kiss your ass for practicing generosity. You should only give to those that deserve it according to your personal criteria.

You happy now?


"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."
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by archaic »

Grigoris, I'm sorry I hope you have a better day. I did not mean to evoke your anger, frustration, and impatience.

As you can see, I'm new and perhaps I misunderstood the board culture. You can delete those of my posts you thought offensive.

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Grigoris »

archaic wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:36 pm
Grigoris, I'm sorry I hope you have a better day. I did not mean to evoke your anger, frustration, and impatience.

As you can see, I'm new and perhaps I misunderstood the board culture. You can delete those of my posts you thought offensive.
You did not post anything offensive and I am not angry. I just gave you what you wanted. Now you don't want it? How ungrateful of you! :tongue:
"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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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

archaic wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:02 pm

Tell me, do you believe that conditions must necessarily be added for those living in the western world as layperson? I would love to give everything away and live as a monk, but I would be homeless in a very cold climate and could even die. Perhaps this is the point, I should not fear death, which I do not, however giving away everything would amound to suicide which violates the precepts.
There is nothing anywhere in this thread suggesting you "give away all your possessions", that is a projection. Weren't you the one complain about black and white thinking?
Our society lives with the profit motive as the predominant religion. Greed is rampant. Hungry ghosts are EVERYWHERE. Those who would not hesitate to take everything, leaving one without even the means to survive.

Obviously, you do not give people material possessions when doing so would be harmful to them or to you, within reason.
There must be a way to choose generosity by applying conditions to avoid this extreme. We must be able to set limits to guide ourselves towards Right Action and Right Livelihood.
You are imposing extremes on yourself and your own thinking with your proliferation.



I see it can be extremely difficult to separate what harms, from what may harm, from what may not.... Dana would seem to require us to deduce potential benefit and potential harm both to the giver and the receiver.
Yes, just like said, you don't give when it would cause harm, it is not all that complicated. Also as we cannot see the results of actions in the manner of a realized being, our ability to deduce this is limited. Things like judging another's supposed "character" as a reason to give or not give are definitely outside the realm of what we can know as samsaric beings.

So you agree my limited thought forms must be used to discern the correct or wise application of Dana... Yes?
"limited thought forms?" :roll: Yes, we have to use relative discernment in the world, to determine when our actions would cause harm rather than benefit, and avoid those, when it is possible. No one ever said otherwise. What people pointed out was that you began your approach to the question with whether or not you should use gratefulness as you perceive it in others as a measure for Dana, and uniformly people seemed to think that was a bad idea, because it is pegging your Dana to your own desires to be recognized, or to dictate someone else's worthiness.
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Bundokji »

The Buddha said:
Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by seeker242 »

Should we be generous to the ungrateful?
Most certainly. The perfection of the dana paramita is characterized by unattached and unconditional generosity.

"Them being grateful" is precisely a condition, the opposite of unconditional. Asking them to be grateful is "asking for something in return". Withholding generosity, on the condition of gratefulness, is unskillful because it's just stinginess in disguise.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by edgar_d »

archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:38 pm
edgar_d wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:32 am
Ungrateful people are perhaps the people most in need of generosity. Remember the old bishop in Les Miserables who houses and feeds the escaped convict Jean Valjean, who in turn, ends up stealing the church silver from him? When caught and brought by the police back to the bishop, the bishop lies and says that he gave him the silver as a gift. This unexpected act of kindness following as it did, Valjean's theft, shakes him to the core and begins a transformation. In this moment, the old bishop's heart touched Valjean's bitter and wounded heart and set it on the path of healing.

Perhaps the true giving is to those whose hearts need it the most and they are often the most difficult customers.
Alright, so we do give money to the alcoholic?
Are we being generous to give them what they think/believe they want, or are we being generous to give them what we think/believe they need?

I appreciate your example, but in this world we are presented with many who will take, take, take...
They would squeeze the life from a newborn for a hot dollar. I don't believe Buddha would prescribe them more infants.
It ain't simple, that's for sure. But it also ain't no science.

What I do see, and I suspect you do too, is that there is just too little generosity in the world and it is making us miserable. Clinging to mine mine mine, my things, my time, my effort, my precious comfort, is making us a miserable bunch. Opening up, freeing up to give without any calculus, no holding back, is not something we see a lot of, but it's a beautiful thing.

Your mention of an alcoholic reminded me of a story I came across here somewhere (can't give credit because I can't find it and forgot the author's name). The fellow used to come across a scruffy hobo in NY. The hobo was very thing, always looking down, searching for cigarettes. He walked by him many times on the way to work, but one day felt moved to buy him a pack of cigarettes. The hobo was stunned, took the pack with both hands and walked away. Later that day, he saw him sitting contentedly on a bench in the park, puffing away. But then for months and months he didn't see him anymore. Until one day as he was walking, he saw a guy riding towards him on a bicycle. The bicycle-guy smiles and waved at him. One after he passed him, he recognised who it was. The hobo, clean-shaved and dressed in better clothes, riding a bicycle, was practically unrecognisable.

Of course, there is no way of knowing if the act of buying cigarettes had anything to do with the transformation. But pure generosity, no forethought, no calculation, can work magic, that I've seen as well. Sometimes the magic can take years to ripen and become visible.

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by archaic »

edgar_d wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:55 pm
archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:38 pm
edgar_d wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:32 am
Ungrateful people are perhaps the people most in need of generosity. Remember the old bishop in Les Miserables who houses and feeds the escaped convict Jean Valjean, who in turn, ends up stealing the church silver from him? When caught and brought by the police back to the bishop, the bishop lies and says that he gave him the silver as a gift. This unexpected act of kindness following as it did, Valjean's theft, shakes him to the core and begins a transformation. In this moment, the old bishop's heart touched Valjean's bitter and wounded heart and set it on the path of healing.

Perhaps the true giving is to those whose hearts need it the most and they are often the most difficult customers.
Alright, so we do give money to the alcoholic?
Are we being generous to give them what they think/believe they want, or are we being generous to give them what we think/believe they need?

I appreciate your example, but in this world we are presented with many who will take, take, take...
They would squeeze the life from a newborn for a hot dollar. I don't believe Buddha would prescribe them more infants.
It ain't simple, that's for sure. But it also ain't no science.

What I do see, and I suspect you do too, is that there is just too little generosity in the world and it is making us miserable. Clinging to mine mine mine, my things, my time, my effort, my precious comfort, is making us a miserable bunch. Opening up, freeing up to give without any calculus, no holding back, is not something we see a lot of, but it's a beautiful thing.

Your mention of an alcoholic reminded me of a story I came across here somewhere (can't give credit because I can't find it and forgot the author's name). The fellow used to come across a scruffy hobo in NY. The hobo was very thing, always looking down, searching for cigarettes. He walked by him many times on the way to work, but one day felt moved to buy him a pack of cigarettes. The hobo was stunned, took the pack with both hands and walked away. Later that day, he saw him sitting contentedly on a bench in the park, puffing away. But then for months and months he didn't see him anymore. Until one day as he was walking, he saw a guy riding towards him on a bicycle. The bicycle-guy smiles and waved at him. One after he passed him, he recognised who it was. The hobo, clean-shaved and dressed in better clothes, riding a bicycle, was practically unrecognisable.

Of course, there is no way of knowing if the act of buying cigarettes had anything to do with the transformation. But pure generosity, no forethought, no calculation, can work magic, that I've seen as well. Sometimes the magic can take years to ripen and become visible.
I like your perspective. It accentuates subtlety and doesn't rigidly hold to one view. Thanks Edgar.

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Grigoris »

“Mañjuśrī, when childish ordinary beings practice generosity, they do it with disrespect toward miserly sentient beings. Due to their disrespect, those who practice giving get angry and give rise to the fault of resentfulness. The faults of anger and resentfulness plunge them into the hell realms.
http://read.84000.co/translation/UT2208 ... html#title
"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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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by PeterC »

archaic wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:43 am
I love to be generous. Even when I expect nothing in return. I don't mine anonymous generosity, in fact this can be the best kind.

However. I react differently when dealing with difficult people, or those who are so caught up in egocenteredness, who just expect others to help them without consideration to the sacrifice or effort made on their behalf.

It seems a slightly unskilled use of one's own merits to spend time when a person *expects* you to help and is thereafter ungrateful.

Did Buddha say anything about this?
Limited generosity will achieve limited merit.

It's really very simple. You see need, you're able to help, you help. When one perceives no difference between self and others, what need is there to entertain all this conceptual calculus of needs and worthiness?

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Crazywisdom »

Queequeg wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:01 am
There's a story about a previous life of Shariputra. There are some variations... here's my mash up - He was practicing the Bodhisattva path. He was approached by a Brahmin who asked him for his eye. Shariputra dug out his left eye and gave it to the Brahmin. The Brahmin said, no, he needed the right eye. Shariputra just thought, I should have asked first. He then dug out his other eye and gave it to the Brahmin. The Brahmin took it, smelled it and threw it on the ground saying it was smelly. Shariputra didn't get mad, but concluded saving others was hard and that he would just concentrate on his own awakening, backsliding into the Hinayana.

I don't know if that's on point. It answers your subject line, I think, but not the question in the body of your post.

Teachings on the dana paramita suggest the recipient's attitude, disposition, reaction should not figure into practicing dana. We should give without even considering it giving. The ideal may be Buddha's previous life where he gave everything away to Devadatta. Talk about an entitled, thankless jerk.
When I was taught this lesson it was posed as a warning about not going farther than one’s own capacity for generosity. Because if one regrets generosity it is demeritorious. Being Bodhisattva is not about being a savior mentality. There has to be wisdom.
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Since we aren't buddhas yet, we have partial knowledge, including what results will come from an action.
If every thought, word, and action is an opportunity to practice the Dharma, then failures are made fruitful as well.
Bodhicitta is naturally a training over the long term. Obstalces are unavoidable.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche -- Everyday Dharma, page 8, offers a practical example in training bodhicitta thought.
Again from Lama Zopa: How to Make Your Life Most Beneficial for Sentient Beings.

And I recommend Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life a lot, but it's worth reading and addresses some of your concerns.

Even in secular life, if you try to grow good qualities, reduce negative ones, and cultivate concern for others' long-term welfare, what is there to regret?
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by muni »

Hello Archaic,

The ungrateful one is my ungrateful self.
The venom one is my venom self.
The arrogant one is my arrogant self.
The wrong one is my wrong self.
The compassionless one is my compassionless self.
The angry one is my angry self.

all dissolving in compassion.


Not being able to be grateful, is so poor.
The presence of space makes it possible for the whole universe to be set out within it, and yet this does not alter or condition space in any way. Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
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Re: Should we be generous to the ungrateful?

Post by Lobsang Chojor »

Maitreya wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:19 am
Live and do what you think is good. If you think it is essential then help them, if not then ignore them.
You cannot satisfy everybody for that is only exist in the perfect world.
If you follow the bodhisattva path you shouldn't ignore any sentient being.
"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
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