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Advantage Giver

Some of the suttas on which the Giving section of The Pali Line was based, plus additional materials on giving as they turn up.

The Princess[1]

I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time the Lucky Man, Savatthi-town, Jeta Woods, Anathapindika Park, came a revisit'n. There, Sumana, the daughter of the king, sister of King Pasenadi, rajah of Kosala, along with 500 handmaidens in 500 chariots came to pay a call.

Then, after paying respect with closed palms, she sat on a low seat to one side at a respectful distance and said:

"In the case, Bhante, where there were two disciples of the Bhaggava who were of equal faith, equal ethical culture, and equal understanding, but where there was a difference in their practice of generosity, one being a giver and one not, and both were to find consciousness again after the death of the body in a happy condition among the gods: would there be any noticeable difference between them?"

"There would be a difference, Sumana," said the Lucky Man, "The giver, finding consciousness again in a happy condition among the gods would be better off in five ways: life, beauty, ease, energy and strength of wits."

"But supposing, Bhante, that these two should once again find rebirth as Man, would there continue to be any noticeable difference between them?"

"There would be a difference, Sumana. The giver finding consciousness again as Man would be better off in five ways: life, beauty, ease, energy and strength of wits."

"But supposing, Bhante, that these two should leave the householder's life and go forth into homelessness, would there continue to be any noticeable difference between them?"

"There would be difference, Sumana. The giver, leaving the householder's life and going forth into homelessness, would be better off in five ways: in the frequency of the times he was asked to accept robes; in the frequency of the times he was asked to accept food; in the frequency of the times he was asked to accept shelter; in the frequency of the times he was asked to accept medicines; and furthermore, his companions in the life tend to act towards him with friendliness in body, speech and mind and often offer to do him services."

"But supposing, Bhante, that these two should both win Arahantship, would there continue to be any noticeable difference between them?"

"In the case of this case, Sumana, I say there is no difference to be perceived between them, comparing freedom with freedom."

"It is wonderful, Bhante, it is marvelous the extent of the positive effects of giving and doing good deeds: a help to one as a man, a help to one as a god, and a help to one as one gone forth!"

"Even so, Sumana! Even so!"

 


 

Siha, the General[2]

I HEAR TELL:

Once upon a time the Lucky Man, Vesali-town, the Peaked Roof House in Great Woods residing, when Siha, the general came to call.

There, after greeting Bhaggava with closed palms, Siha took a low seat to one side and asked:

"Is it possible, Bhante, to show the consequences of giving in the here and now?"

"It is, general." said the Lucky Man, "The giver is here and now considered good and is liked by many.

Again, good and wise men gather round the giver, and this is an advantage in the here and now.

Again, the giver gets a good reputation.

Again, General, whenever the giver enters a council or meeting, whether of householders or royalty or religious leaders or sorcerers, he enters fearlessly, confidently.

And again, General, at the breakup of the body at death the giver finds consciousness again in a happy state among the gods."

"Well, Bhante, as for the first four of these consequences of giving visible in the here and now, I do not need to go by faith to the Lucky Man, for I am able to see them for myself. I am a generous person, Bhante, and I am considered good and am liked by many; many good and wise men are my companions; I have a good reputation: People say: 'The General Siha is a giver, he works for and serves the Sangha;' and whenever I enter a council or meeting, whether of householders or royalty or religious leaders or sorcerers, I do so fearlessly, confidently...but when the Bhaggava says: "And again, General, at the breakup of the body at death the giver finds consciousness again in a happy sate among the gods.' this is something of which I have no personal experience and go by faith."

Even so Siha. Even so.

 


 

Advantage: Giver[3]

I HEAR TELL:[4]

"Beggars! There are these five advantages to be had by giving:

The giver is here and now considered good and is liked by many.

Again, good and wise men gather round the giver.

Again, the giver gets a good reputation.

Again, the giving housefather is not one who deviates from good ethical standards.

And at the breakup of the body at death the giver finds consciousness again in a happy state among the gods."

 


 

The Right Time[5]

I HEAR TELL:[4a]

"Beggars! There are these five right times for giving:

When there is a newcomer, it is the right time for giving,

Again, when there is one who is taking leave, it is the right time for giving,

Again, when there is one who is sick, it is the right time for giving,

Again, when food is hard to get, it is the right time for giving,

And again, at harvest-time, he gives the first fruits of his labors to those of high ethical conduct."

 


 

The Food Giver[6]

I HEAR TELL:[4b]

"Beggars! There are these five gifts given by the food giver.

What five?

Life, beauty, ease, energy and strength of wits.

But, Beggars, in giving such as such as this, he shares in five benefits.

What five?

Life, beauty, ease, energy and strength of wits,
Both hear and in the hereafter.

 


 

Not Well-given[7]

I HEAR TELL:[4c]

"Beggars! These five are not the ways a good man gives.
What five?

The given without respect.

The given without thought.

That not given by one's own hand.

That given because it is not wanted.

That given without trust in the fruit of good deeds.

Indeed, Beggars, these five are not the ways a good man gives.

"Beggars! These five are the ways a good man gives.
What five?

The given with respect.

The given with thought.

That given by one's own hand.

That given because it is desirable.

That given with trust in the fruit of good deeds.

Indeed, Beggars, these five are the ways a good man gives.

 


 

A Good Man's Gifts[8]

I HEAR TELL:[4d]

"Beggars! These five are a good man's gifts.
What five?

He gives trusting in the fruit of good deeds; he gives with respect; he gives at the right time; with a happy heart; a gift causing injury neither to self or others.

A gift given trusting in the fruit of good deeds, beggars, whenever it comes to fruition brings that good man great wealth and possessions, and such a one is good looking, handsome, as pleasant to the eye as the lotus blossom.

A gift given with respect, beggars, whenever it comes to fruition brings that good man great wealth and possessions, and the wife and children and employees of such a one listen carefully and know how to follow his instructions.

A gift given at the right time, beggars, whenever it comes to fruition brings that good man great wealth and possessions, and what he gets comes at the right time.

A gift given with a happy heart, beggars, whenever it comes to fruition brings that good man great wealth and possessions, beggars, and whatever of such as he enjoys he does so with the full indulgence of the five chords of sense pleasure.

A gift given which causes no injury to self or others, beggars, whenever it comes to fruition brings that good man great wealth and possessions, and all such is made safe against fire and water and kings and thieves and greedy heirs.

These five are a good man's gifts.

 


 

Kamma Calculator[9]

This table offered as a matter of interest, however the real point of the sutta, is the idea that in spite of how one may personally feel about the situation, a gift given "to the order", even a long time after the death of the Buddha, when the individual Bhikkhus may well be entirely corrupt, is still of greater kammic yield than a gift to the Buddha himself, as an individual when face-to-face with him.

I think we can put this into perspective if we consider the basic principle of anatta: that "face-to-face with the Buddha" is an idea dependant on the erroneous idea that it is the body that is the Buddha. "Awakening" (Buddhahood) is a cosmic principle (and just to anticipate, this is not to say that there is a "Buddha-Consciousness" any more than it is to say that there is, for example, within the head of a match, a flame-state; or that there is outside of the match a flame-state the match attains when struck). "The Buddha" and "The Order" and "The Dhamma" are stand-in's for this principle. Symbols. Beacons to us all. And by it's nature, The Order is longer-lasting than is the body of the SammasamBuddha and is for that reason capable of producing a greater kammic rebound, but in addition to that, whatever is the Awakened principle of the SammaSamBuddha is an aspect of the Samgha, so that too contributes to the power of the institution as a medium for (or as they say "field for sowing") kamma. This also explains the inverse: it does not matter that the Bhikkhus of the order have become corrupt, because it is not the individual Bhikkhus that are the order. They are no more than signposts.

And this, if you get the chance, is the way to take advantage of this phenomena: When you have a gift to offer to the order, do not simply present it to the first Bhikkhu you find, but present it to the Bhikkhu (if possible find one in whose presence your heart resonates with happiness) and say (words to the effect): "Please accept this (food, clothing, medicine, shelter) from me as a Gift To The Order.

 

Individuals

Type[10] Rebound
SammasamBuddha The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a SammasamBuddha?
PaccekaBuddha The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a PaccekaBuddha?
Arahant The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off an Arahant?
pre-Arahant The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a pre-Arahant?
Non-Returner The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a Non-Returner?
pre-Non-Returner The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a pre-Non-Returner?
Once-Returner The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a Once-Returner?
pre-Once-Returner The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a pre-Once-Returner?
Streamwinner The Magnification off a pre-Streamwinner being incalculable and immeasurable, what can be said of that off a Streamwinner?
pre-Streamwinner incalculable and immeasurable
Highly Developed Ordinary Person (beyond attachment to sense pleasures Value Magnified 100,000 Times 1,000,000 Times
Ordinary Person of High Ethical Conduct Value Magnified 100,000 Times
Ordinary Person of Poor Ethical Conduct Value Magnified 1000 Times
Animals Value Magnified 100 Times

To the Samgha

Both Samghas face-to-face with the (Living) SammasamBuddha (see Note)
Both Samghas after the PariNibbana of the SammasamBuddha (see Note)
To the Men's Samgha (see Note)
To the Women's Samgha (see Note)
Saying "May So and So many Members of both Orders be chosen by the order as recipients of this gift." (see Note)
Saying "May So and So many members of the Men's Samgha be chose by the order as recipients of this gift." (see Note)
Saying "May So and So many members of the Women's Samgha be chosen by the order as recipients of this gift. (see Note)

 


 

Note:

Horner: "...in the distant future there will be those of the ariyan clan, the yellow robes around their necks, who will be of bad morality and evil character; and a gift will be given to the Order specially for these of bad morality. But when I, Ananda, say that an offering to the Order is incalculable and immeasurable I by no means say that a gift graded as to individuals is of greater fruit than an offering to the Order."

Nanamoli/Bodhi: "In future times, Ananda, there will be members of the clan who are 'yellow-necks,'[11] immoral, of evil character. People will give gifts to those immoral persons for the sake of the Sangha. Even then, I say, an offering made to the Sangha is incalculable, immeasurable. And I say that in no way does a gift to a person individually ever have greater fruit than an offering made to the Sangha."

Mrs. Horner's "...given to the Order specially for these of bad morality..." inverts the intent. This sutta is in response to the effort of Mahapajapati, the Buddha's aunt, to give the Buddha a gift to him personally, while the Buddha's wish is that it be given to the Order...presumably for the purpose of creating an opportunity for raising this issue, as it is my understanding that Mahapajapati became an Arahant.

N/B footnote: "The gift is incalculable and immeasurable in value because it is offered, by way of the intention of the donor, not to the "yellow-necks" as individuals but to the Sangha as a corporate whole. Thus the recipient body includes all the virtuous bhikkhus of the past, even those who have long passed away.

(He does not mention the fact that a gift so given will benefit those Bhikkhus in the future and present, and thus help perpetuate the dhamma.)

Another N/B footnote: MA states that a gift offered to an immoral Bhikkhu taken to represent the entire Sangha is more fruitful than a gift offered on a personal basis to an Arahant. But for the gift to be properly presented to the Sangha, the donor must take no account of the personal qualities of the recipient but must see him solely as representing the Sangha as a whole.
(My point as to the wording that should be used in offering a gift to the order. One does not need to be so detached as to not see the real qualities (or lack of them) of the receiving Bhikkhu, one only needs to have one's intent clear in one's mind.)

 


 

Four handout-purifications[12]

There is, friends, the handout which is purified by the donor not the recipient.
There is, friends, the handout which is purified by the recipient not the donor.
There is, friends, the handout which is purified neither by the donor nor the recipient.
There is, friends, the handout which is purified both by the donor and the recipient.

 


 

If you read any of the pre-Buddhist texts, especially The Laws of the Aryians, you will note the big place "purification" played in the everyday lives of people of the time. We still have plenty of this today both as superstitious ritual (as in food taboos) and in our daily habits of cleanliness (some of this is superstitious ritual too). My thinking is that the idea of purification came out of the observation that under certain conditions (impure states) some foods were poisonous. This idea was then generalized to conduct and further broadened to include factors influencing the afterlife.

Here the idea has been interpreted to mean the manner in which a gift becomes effective in providing benefit to a second party, such as a departed relative.

It is pretty clear that this is a debunked idea from the point of view of the Pali (although it is something that is widely believed and practiced in many Buddhist countries. We have one case where some person was making a very generous gift of a meal to the Buddha where in fact the gift was made up from donations given to this man by his friends. He made the wish to the Buddha: "May the benefit go to those who provided these gifts." The Buddha's response was to say: "Those people will receive the benefit of having given to an unenlightened one such as are you. You will get the benefit of having given to an enlightened one such as I." In another case the Buddha is observing funeral rites in which some people are saying about a dead man: "May his soul rise up to heaven, may his soul rise up to heaven!" And he observes that this is no more effective in causing this man to go to heaven than it would be possible to raise a stone from water's depths by wishing: "May this rock rise up! May this rock rise up!" It is by way of an individual's deeds that his good or bad kamma is created, not by what another may wish for him.

The basic principle of "transferring merit" goes against the whole idea of kamma.

So, given that this segment of this sutta is Dhamma (and the idea here does come up elsewhere), what is intended here? What we can have in connection with a gift are several factors which inhance the potency of the rebound which may be anticipated from a deed:
First is intent concerning the outcome for ourselves (A spectrum of such expectations is often given, from rebirth in a wealthy family here, to rebirth in some grand heavenly state, to purification of the mind). A gift given without such an intent is considered to be a deed that has been carelessly done, the effectiveness of intent in producing that outcome is related to it's clarity, and the clarity is related to the objective detachment of giver and receiver.
In addition, giving without regret,
giving with trust in the potency of good deeds,
giving by one's own hand (the real meaning of dakkhiṇā,
giving good clean things and useful things
are other factors that influence the potency of a gift.[13]

So here the matter breaks down to the case where the giver is or is not clear as to his intent, and takes good care in the other matters concerning the gift; or you have the case where the recipient is one who is or is not, by way of his objective detachment capable of turning even a poorly executed deed into one of potent results. The best outcome to be hoped for is in the case of the fourth case.

 


 

Eight foundations for giving:[14]

One gives when approached.
One gives when afraid.
One gives thinking: 'He gave to me.'
One gives thinking: 'He will give to me.'
One gives thinking: 'Giving is something that is well done.'
One gives thinking: 'I cook, they don't cook, it is not proper that one who cooks not give to one who does not cook.'
One gives thinking: 'Because of this gift I will get an excellent reputation throughout the land.'
One gives to prepare, nourish and equip the heart.

 


 

 


[1] [AN 5 31] Anguttara Nikaya, Fives, #31
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: IV: Sumana: 1: Sumana, the rajah's daughter, pp24

[2] [AN 5 34] Anguttara Nikaya III, V, iv, 34
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: IV: Sumana: 4: Siha, the general, pp31

[3] [AN 5 35] Anguttara Nikaya III, V, iv, 35
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: IV: Sumana: 5: The advantages from gifts, pp32

[4] [4a] [4b] [4c] [4d] No Nidana.

[5] [AN 5 36] Anguttara Nikaya III, V, iv, 36
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: IV: Sumana: 6: The timely gift, pp32

[6] [AN 5 37] Anguttara Nikaya III, V, iv, 37
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: IV: Sumana: 8: The gift of a meal, pp34

[7] [AN 5 147] Anguttara Nikaya III, V, xv, 147
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: XV: Three Thorn Grove: 147: Well-given, pp129

[8] [AN 5 148] Anguttara Nikaya III, V, xv, 148
PTS: The Book of the Gradual Sayings, III: The Book of the Fives: XV: Three Thorn Grove: 148: A good man's gifts, pp130: A Good Man's Gifts

[9] [MN 142] Majjhima Nikaya III: #142:Dakkhi.navibha.ngasutta pp253
PTS: The Middle Length Sayings III: #142: The Analysis of Offerings, Horner, trans. pp 300
WP: The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, #142: The Exposition of Offerings, Bhikkhu Nanamoli/Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans., pp1102

[10] See also: The Four Pairs of Powerful Individuals

[11] Somewhere, I do not recall where, this term "yellow-necks" has been translated: "Wearing the Saffron Robes like nooses around their necks."

[12] Digha Nikaya #33. Singiti Sutta: 4s#39

[13]See n7 above.

[14]Digha Nikaya III.33: Sangiti Suttanta: 8s#6


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