Dana (Free Will Offering) and Ubuntu (Sharing)
An Economic Paradigm Rooted in an Ancient Principle
Dana means ‘generosity’ or ‘free will offering‘ which follows the ancient practice of the Buddhist lineage where teachings are offered freely. Dharmagiri has been made possible through the generosity of others and likewise the gifts of our guests make it possible for future practitioners to benefit from their time at Dharmagiri. In this way, Dana allows those who have few resources access to the teachings and practice at Dharmagiri.
Dana is rooted in the practice of wisdom and compassion. Wisdom informs us that nothing ultimately belongs to us and that we are all deeply interconnected. It also informs us that without the gifts of others, we would not have life, education and the resources we enjoy. Compassion encourages us to act on this understanding by striving for a more equitable society based on sharing and generosity.
This understanding is also within the ancient African principle of Ubuntu which states “we are who we are through others.” As the consciousness we engage with conditions the societies we live within, the practice at Dharmagiri encourages overcoming the mindset that seeks self benefit at the expense of others.
Ethics of Sharing
The ethical practice of generosity expresses a wholesome and caring ethos at the heart of community. The economic forms of consumerism and capitalism conditions us as consumers, promoting an individualism that can disconnect from a sense of community. To help generate a lived sense of our interdependence, it is our intention to support economic relationships that move towards a culture of sharing and a sense of community.
Fundamental Spirit of Dharmagiri is Offering
Dharmagiri enters a relationship with our guests and fellow practitioners, not as providers of a service for a consumer, but as a wholehearted human relationship as collaborators in the transformation of the heart, mind and society in order to bring about a greater well being for the whole. And so the fundamental spirit at Dharmagiri is one of offering.
According to the Buddha sharing whatever we have, whether it be money, time, work, nurture or resources, is one of the central pillars of a spiritual life. In the act of giving, we develop our ability to let go and cultivate a culture of caring. An act of generosity can be a spontaneous outpouring due the heart or a more considered practice of supporting that which we are aligned to. Generosity is also a practice that undermines grasping and helps us move beyond self preoccupation in ways the enable connection, abundance and mutual support. On a larger scale, generosity enables a stable and cohesive family, society and world.
Offering Dharma Teachings
Dating back to the time of the Buddha, the teachings are given freely since they are considered beyond monetary value. There has always existed an interdependence between those who offer teachings and those who receive them which is symbolized in the daily alms round of Buddhist monastics who rely on the generosity of lay people for support in continuing their spiritual life. In kind, the monastics devote their time to preserving and practicing the teaching. This relationship of mutual giving embodies a ‘sacred contract’ that enlivens the teachings and aims at maintaining a pure transmission.
At Dharmagiri, we hold faith to this principle which offers an opportunity to connect with a 2560 year tradition deeply bedded in a web of devotion, offering, and commitment. Dana also supports the teachers who give their time, expertise, and experience freely and helps support those who live and work at Dharmagiri as community members.
Support Dharmagiri and its Outreach Work by Making a Standing Order
Another way of supporting the work of Dharmagiri is by making a monthly standing order.
Even if it is for a small amount, the accumulated support of standing orders enables constancy.
For more details of how to set up a standing order, please contact us in the office which can furnish details for making a standing order through affiliated bank accounts in the UK and US as well as South Africa. Please note: US based donations are tax deductible.
The practice of wise giving and its results
According to the Buddha sharing, whatever we have, whether it be money, time, work, nurture or resources, is one of the central pillars of a spiritual life. In the act of giving we develop our ability to let go and cultivate a spirit of caring. An act of generosity can be a spontaneous outpouring due the heart being touched or the desire to support that which we are aligned to. However generosity is also a practice that undermines grasping and helps us move beyond self centeredness. On a larger scale generosity enables a stable and cohesive family, society and world.
When you make an offering it is encouraged to do so with mindfulness, with a heart that lets go, with a heart of loving kindness and with no manipulation or agenda regards the result. This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be careful monitoring of the results of sharing our resources and consideration of wise gifts, but in the moment of actually offering, free the heart from grasping and wish for the welfare of the other.
The karmic result of generosity is to live with abundance, to live fearlessly and to live open heartedly with a strong sense of kinship and interconnectedness within the web of life. May it be so for you!
A Way of Life For a Sustainable Planet.
“Give what you can and take only what you need, while giving back more than you take.”
A general guideline of the Dana / Ubuntu Economy is “Give what you can and only take what you need, and give back more than you take.”
The direct practice of generosity transforms greed and supports an inner attitude of letting go or renunciation. In these times when global resources are severely challenged, our collective sustainability is under threat. A direct remedy is to live more simply. The Dharma teaches us that endlessly seeking the fulfilment of desires can never bring about peace. Peace and deep contentment arises with the letting go of desire. May all beings dwell in peace, abundance, fearlessness and open-heartedness.
A Teaching From Master Hua
Giving cures greed, if you are unable to let go, practice giving. Only through giving can you gain. If you don’t give you can’t gain anything. Giving and Receiving. You have to give to receive.
There is the giving of wealth, of Dharma and the giving of fearlessness.
The Giving of Wealth – This means giving money, goods and resources, including sharing the wealth of your blessings and virtue. When you give you should empty three aspect of giving: “there is no giver, no receiver and nothing that is given or received.”
The Giving of Dharma – This means bestowing Dharma teachings that awaken, encourage and transform living beings who request it. Speak the Dharma to help those who are hungry and thirsty for it.
The Giving of Fearlessness – This means that when living beings are in fear or are vulnerable, you comfort them and help them not to be afraid. You become their advocate by fearlessly standing by them, protecting and supporting them.