Danaparamita, The Perfection of Giving Away, The Blessed Poor 

Dear friends, 

Over the next several months we will contemplate and cultivate insights about the individual paramitas. This will happen weekly in this blog and in the practice sessions throughout the week. This approach to the practice of the individual paramitas, (a fleet of vessels passing over to the further shore1) will follow the following process: 

  1. Contemplating what is here. Contemplating on the words or marks associated with the paramita, to bring awareness to the concepts, emotions and even bodily experiences that are already present when we hear or say the names of each paramita, will allow us to notice any preconceived ideas, or unconscious imprints that we might harbor in relation to the words or ideas of each paramita. So, first we will just notice what we think we know.  
  1. An invitation to study the sutras, verses, and commentaries associated with each paramita. i.e., what are some of the insights that the wisdom lineages offer about these practices. 
  1. What is in the way? What inhibits our understanding and practice of the paramita? What obscurations or obstacles are experienced. 
  1. A contemplation and inquiry of the fruition of the practices. How might each paramita come to life in our everyday experiences.  

Danaparamita, The Perfection of Giving Away, The Blessed Poor 

Dana is most often translated from the original Sanskrit word as generosity2. It is always the first paramita that is introduced and is included in several lists of practices throughout the buddhist canon. The first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor.” and the vow of poverty is a primary practice for christian monks and nuns and the central practice of the Franciscan tradition.  

Contemplating what is here: 

What shows up in my experience when I contemplate generosity? What memories? What images? Concepts? Constrictions? Emotions? What physical sensations are experienced? 

In the same contexts, what shows up when I think of the phrase “Blessed are the poor.”? 

What occurs when I contemplate: 

  • Perfect generosity or poverty 
  • Transcendent generosity or poverty 
  • Pure generosity or poverty 
  • Generosity or poverty that carries me to the other shore The shore of liberation from suffering for all beings. 

So, the invitation this week is to explore your ideas about and life experience of dana. Perhaps you might notice if there are any attachments or hardened ideas; where there is fluidity; where there is passion and movement. Perhaps you might notice where there is spaciousness. Just look and see what is here so you know where you are starting from. 

It would be wonderful if you would take some time to share a bit of your inquiry in the comment section on the website or in a reply to this email. If you do the latter, please let me know if it is OK for me to share with the whole sangha. 

I look forward to hearing from you and practicing with you. 

With these words I pay homage to all buddhas, bodhisattvas, sentient beings, and the totality. May these words not confuse, bring doubt, or harm, but bring ease and warmth and an end to suffering for all beings.

William

1 Hotori, Risho. (2006). The Etymological Meaning of ‘paramita’. JOURNAL OF INDIAN AND BUDDHIST STUDIES (INDOGAKU BUKKYOGAKU KENKYU). 54. 1011-1005,1340. 10.4259/ibk.54.1011. 

2 Insight Meditation Society. https://www.dharma.org/retreats/forest-refuge/dana-generosity/#:~:text=Dana%20is%20a%20Pali%20word,central%20role%20throughout%20Buddhism’s%20history. 


Practice 

Practicing in sangha, even virtually, supports the practice of meditation differently than sitting solitarily. The members of the Sangha of the Pandemic, invite you to practice with us. No experience is required. There is no cost. Everyone is welcome. 

We practice on ZOOM: 

  • Mondays – Calm abiding and insight meditation. 6 AM Pacific Time 
  • Tuesdays – Body awareness. 6 AM Pacific Time 
  • Thursdays – Tonglen, 6 AM Pacific Time 
  • Sundays – Brahmavihara. 7 AM Pacific Time 
  • Monday and Thursday. Contemplation and meditation. 4:30 PM Pacific Time 

ZOOM Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89989680789 

Please feel free to reach out with questions or insights. Please also feel free to forward this post and invite others to join the sangha. You may find more reflections, poetry, art at sanghaofthepandemic.org . If you would like to leave comments or participate in ongoing discussions about a blog, go to the end of the individual post or click on the little green box floating on the page.

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