Foundations, part 3: dāna, the Culture of Giving

Giving was so central to the early Buddhist system that it’s hard to overstate how much seems lost around this profound practice in the Western transmission. In the Insight Meditation system and other convert Buddhisms, dāna (Giving) is often just thought of as the practice of giving monetary donations for teachings or at the end of retreats. This makes sense in our culture that not only doesn’t know much about faith and generosity, but has minimal accessible monastic culture. Giving, as a practice for lay people, is really the core thing that makes monastic practice possible, and so is indispensable to the religion. Absent the monastic culture, giving still may be a beautiful training in letting go, but its force is substantially dulled when it becomes optional rather than central to practice.

This is part 3 of a series on foundational practices the Buddha often taught as the building blocks on which the deeper liberation teachings rested.

Part 1, on ethical action, is here.

Part 2, on community, is here.


Pūja: the full refuge & precepts chant sequence, with harmonium (1.22.19)

Meditation: Receiving support (1.22.19)

Talk: dāna, creating a culture of giving and receiving (1.22.19)


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