first published – March 13, 2012
Scientists have, as scientists often do, been studying stuff. Scientists are famous for studying and uncovering things about humans, and life in general. It is always interesting the things they manage to uncover or discover. It is especially interesting when science proves things that Buddhism has been teaching and practicing for thousands of years.
Today I am talking about generosity. Researchers studied folks who were generous to others. The study looked specifically at money spent, and those who spent money on others were generally happier than if they had spent that same amount on themselves.
In Buddhism in the Mahayana tradition we speak of the Six Perfections, the first of which is Dana, or generosity. We do not believe though, that financial generosity is the only way to be generous. In fact donating one’s time, or one’s knowledge and skill, or even one’s presence at the temple, are all examples of generosity included in Dana.
In Buddhism we practice Dana in the spirit that we give freely with no expectation of benefit or reward accruing to ourselves for the act. Yet the fact is that we in fact do benefit.
It is normal to look for examples in the Buddhist sutras to support the act of generosity and giving. But today I would like to share with you what the Buddha says about what will be given to those who practice the Lotus Sutra.
“You, the World-Honored One, are the great benefactor. By doing this rare thing, you taught and benefited us out of your compassion towards us.” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter IV)
The Buddha has given us a rare gift, he has made an offering to us, because of his great compassion we can receive great benefit.
“We also obtained merits by seeing the Buddha. May we attain the enlightenment of the Buddha by these merits!” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter III)
“The merits of the person who causes even a single man to go and hear the Dharma are so many. It is needless to speak of the merits of the person who hears this sutra with all his heart, reads it, recites it, expounds it to the great multitude, and acts according to its teachings.” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter XVIII)