On Giving "in Season"

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On Giving "in Season"

Postby HumbleThinker » Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:37 pm

So on exploring various stuff on Access to Insight, I looked in the topic of generosity, apparently the first step in the Buddha's gradual process to enlightenment. I found a page that gave various verses addressing various aspects of generosity, and I began to think about when it is right to give given how many conservatives in particular push the idea of responsible charity. After a while a ran across this verse from the Sappurisadana Sutta:

"These five are a person of integrity's gifts. Which five? A person of integrity gives a gift with a sense of conviction. A person of integrity gives a gift attentively. A person of integrity gives a gift in season. A person of integrity gives a gift with an empathetic heart. A person of integrity gives a gift without adversely affecting himself or others."

What does it mean to "give a gift in season?" From the words alone, it would seem to have a lot to do with the last point of giving a gift that does not negatively affect the receiver. The usual conservative example of irresponsible giving is giving money to the homeless person on the street and that person immediately going to buy liquor, cigarettes, or drugs with that money. This is clearly unwanted, but balancing this reality with and Buddha's (more so Christ's in my case) call for generosity has always been an interest of mine. I would assume that such scenarios were in the Buddha's mind when he spoke this, so how would giving "in season" relate to this, if at all? Thanks for any information you can provide.

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Re: On Giving "in Season"

Postby viniketa » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:55 pm

There may be as many answers to this is there are Buddhists. To me, it seems the major thing is that one is mindful of gift giving such that the gift is clearly for the benefit of the recipient and not the giver. The "in season" would seem to speak to the appropriateness of a gift. Something given "out of season" could either be wildly extravagant or something one had laying around for a long time & decided that giving it as a gift would be a good way to "get rid" of it.

As I've said elsewhere, I'm not too keen on the idea of being picky about what someone is going to do with a gift of money. A gift given "with conviction" isn't one with strings attached. If someone is begging on the street corner, there may be a perfectly good reason for it. You don't want to give $100 to a street corner beggar or to an irresponsible child. But giving enough to get a meal is fine, in my book. A long time ago, I was sitting at a bus stop and a bedraggled lady in her mid-twenties came and asked for $.50 for a hamburger (the stop was in front of a McDonalds and it was a LONG time ago). Having no extra change, I gave her a dollar. A man next to me said "You just helped her buy beer or drugs". I just said, "Maybe." As we both watched, she went into McDonald's and come out with a burger & fries, sat on the curve and ate it greedily. I told the man, "You never know". And that's it, you don't know. I always give to street corner beggars if I have the money. If they "live better than I do and don't work", well, that's better than if I didn't give and that person went without food for days.

If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment

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Re: On Giving "in Season"

Postby KeithBC » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:42 pm

A gift of a bottle of Scotch would be "out of season" if given to someone who had just quit drinking and joined AA. A gift of baby clothes would likely be "out of season" if given to a retired couple. A gift should be appropriate, and that includes its timing (i.e. "season") as well as its nature.

Om mani padme hum

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Re: On Giving "in Season"

Postby lowlydog » Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:10 am

If we give old clothes we have no use for then this is called miserly giving(we are giving what we no longer want).

If we give new clothes that we would like to wear this is called kindly giving(we are giving what we would expect to recieve).

If we give the shirt from our back this is called Kingsly giving(we are giving that which is dear to us).

Think about these three types of giving next time you are practicing generosity, even when we give money, is it spare change we have no use for? is it a substancial sum of money that we would like to recieve? or is it the last few dollars that you have and giving it will require a great sacrifice?

How often do we really practice kingsly giving?

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Re: On Giving "in Season"

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:05 am

I been thinking about this a lot myself. It seems to me that generosity isn't giving. It's a lack of miserliness.

Generosity does not depend on the objective value of the gift. It depends on a generosity of attitude untrammeled by any kind of attachment that would prevent [giving]. It follows that generosity is in the mind. -The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech pg. 168
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Re: On Giving "in Season"

Postby lowlydog » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:14 am

Hi Kongchog1,

There are two parts to generosity;

Dana: the act of giving

Caga: the desire to give

As we practice our desire to give strengthens.

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Re: On Giving "in Season"

Postby muni » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:37 am

Giving things is what we see as giving. Quick a parcel and thats' it. Too easy is it to say when people are in need: I have no time, I this I that...
There is a man in England who called himself the yes-man. He started to say Yes to everything. He wrote a book about. Whatever one asked him, he said yes. He came in some nice difficulties by that. :tongue: His account started to be empty and so on. But to say 'more yes' was a solution. He went to a Buddhist teacher. He explained his whole yes-story to him. The teacher said: I think you found your path. :smile:
So at the end he decided to be careful but say more yes, after some light on the case was thrown of course. In that way, he started to give "himself", is more open. For Season and all seasons.
Rest in natural great peace this exhausted mind,
Beaten helplessly by karma and neurotic thoughts
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.
~Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche

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