The Pali Line

Dana

 

The first setting into practice of the Buddha's system for the absolute beginner is the cultivation of a habit of generosity — dāna: Giving.

The Pali is based on what we might call a "Law of Physics" called kamma (Sanskrit: Karma).
The Pali view of kamma is different from the various Hindu views as well as from the Golden Rule.
The Pali view holds that:

The resulting consequence of an action
depends on the power of the actor,
the power of the deed, and
the power of the recipient of the deed.
.

Think of the planning of the general verusus the actual fighting of the soldier — the act of greater significance is the planning of the general. Additionally, no deed can be performed without first having been conceived of by mind.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

The power of the deed is proportional to its ability to assist the recipient along the path toward detachment.

Therefore deeds of mind are the most powerful,
deeds of word and body are less powerful.

The western practitioner needs to understand the criteria for a "deed of mind."

A passing thought is not a deed of mind.

For a deed of mind to take place there must be intent attached.

"O,O,O, If Only Such and So were So and Such".

The power of the actor and the recipient is proportional to the clarity of their minds.

Clarity of mind is proportional to the detachment of the individual.

How does clarity of mind influence the outcome of a deed?
One can understand this in a very ordinary way: given a complex task and two individuals to perform it, which would you expect to complete the task successfully: the muddle-head or the clear thinker?
This is how it works: The attached mind is necessarily biased and therefore unclear and of divided power.

"The wishes of the virtuous, beggars,
come to fruition because of their clarity."

DN 33.8

The Pali holds that
there is no doing of an intentional deed without experiencing consequences therefrom.

But the consequences of a deed are subjectively experienced in accordance with the intent of the deed and the mental state of the individual at the time of the experience of a deed's consequences.

This allows for both the alteration of the subjective experience of the outcome of a deed and the subjective escape from kamma altogether through the alteration of one's mental state.

Alteration of one's mental state can be accomplished by compensatory behavior or a change in attitude or orientation or point of view concerning that which constitutes the self. Kamma which was to be experienced as bodily sensation does not reach the individual who no longer identifies with body.

Two similes are given:

Take the case, beggars, of a rich man who steals a poor farmer's pig,
and take the case of the poor farmer who steals a rich merchant's pig.

What is the case here?

When the poor farmer steals the rich merchant's pig and is caught, he is beaten to within an inch of his life and is made to pay for the pig as well.

When the rich man steals the poor farmer's pig and is caught, the poor farmer begs the rich man to pay him back and maybe he is compensated and maybe he is not.

And, take the case, Beggars, of a small cup of water into which is placed a large spoonful of salt,
and take the case of a large barrel of fresh rain water into which is place a large spoonful of salt.

What is the case here?

When the large spoonful of salt is placed into the small cup of water, it renders the water undrinkable, but when the large spoonful of salt is placed into the large barrel of fresh rain water it is hardly noticed if at all.

Unless it leads to giving up, giving necessarily involves activity which precludes it from being a complete path to detachment. The primary purpose of giving in this system is the creation of good kamma for the purposes of attaining calm.

The primary purpose of the Pali is not the creation of good kamma or calm, but the escape from kamma which is an achievement greatly assisted by the state of calm, detached observation.

Having the idea that one has some good kamma out there instills confidence and supports calm detached observation.

This is very handy for those times when one catches a glimpse of the fact that without some good deeds on the books, one is skating on thin ice and the sun is out. Fear and trembling are hindrances in the Pali.

So practice giving.

Strive to become a Master Giver.

Do not rely on the tired old thought:
"I am already a very generous person!"

There is no act of giving which is insignificant.

"Why, Beggars, if one were to scrape the dishes into the sewers with the idea of feeding the small creatures that are living there, that would not be without fruit." [AN 3.57]

 


 

When to Give

Give to one arriving
Give to one departing
Give to one in need
Give to express gratitude
Give to make friends
Give the first fruit of orchard or garden (the fruit of one's labor)

 


 

Who to Give to

From time to time give treats that servants and employees could not otherwise afford.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Give to the self.
Give to one's mate and children.
Give to one's parents.
Give to one's other relatives.
Give to friends
Give to servants and employees.
Give to teachers
Give to beggars and sorcerers of good moral habits.

 

Giving to the self is another concept which will appear strange to the Western mind, but which is central to the Pali way of thinking — that is, that the self should be treated like any other person, or an old friend. For one thing, giving to yourself, you will learn what is and what is not good to give.

Setting Priorities

There is no overt statement made by Gotama concerning setting priorities. What there is is consistancy in the order in which the doing of deeds (e.g., giving) is listed.

That the self comes first is to be understood this way:

When it comes to the Essentials of Food, Clothing, Medicine, and Shelter, the self should be provided for first because the self is essential for providing for the rest. Exactly the opposite is the case when it comes to non-essentials in which case the order is less important and is usually dictated by opportunity. It is certainly wise that the self give to the self first in the case of something unknown so that the benefits and disadvantages can be known before taking further action.

The other groups can be rationalized this way:

One's mate and children come next because they provide the stability and survival of the family.

The parents come next because of their role as creators of the family. The parents have given what cannot be repaid, that is, life, and should be treated with the respect and gratitude due the doers of that deed, this regardless of the goodness of their conduct.

Friends, servants and employees come next in a more or less reasonable progression from the previous.

Teachers, beggars and sorcerers of good moral habits come last. Considering that teachers and the rest are likely to give one advice that vastly improves life, or, if they are, in fact, powerful in terms of detachment, they will be the proximate cause of huge kammic returns, the question is, why last? I believe this is largely a matter of modesty on the part of the conveyer of this list who would have been a teacher, a beggar or a sorcerer. These people are always cautious to guard against the idea that they are teaching for profit which would be a conclusion reasonably reached if they put themselves first. Of course the idea that if the essentials are not provided to the self first there will be no self to give to the rest still applies here, and, additionally, the beggar, etc., who put himself before the rest would be subject to criticism from the rest and this is to be avoided as an unpleasantness.

 


 

The Four Basics for Making Friends

Gifts
Kind words (speaking well of people)
Making one's self useful
Treating all alike according to the same standard

AN 4 32; AN 8 24

 


 

Repay Two that Cannot be Repaid

These two can never be repaid, beggars.
What two?
Mother and Father.
If one were to hoist Mother and Father
Up onto one's shoulders
An carry them around
Them sh'n and ap iss'n as usua,
Even for an unret years
Wun't be 'nuf ta repay them.

How come?

Because Mother and Father, beggars
Did much for their child
When he was young and helpless.

They gave him life
They gave him food
They gave him clothing
They gave him shelter
They gave him medicine.

That's how come.

But, beggars, if one were to be the cause
Of Mother and Father understanding Dhamma
If even only a stanza of four lines
That would be enough to repay them.

AN 2.32

 


 

Scorn not the beggar and his bowl
For in the eyes of god,
We are beggars all

 


 

Give to fellow seekers
right down to the bottom of the bowl.

The patta mūla:
The root of the bowl.

 


 

What to Give

Give the essential.

Give Food,
Clothing,
Shelter,
Medicine.

These are the things you want rebounding back to you if there should ever come a time when you are down and out,
fallen on hard times,
hit bottom,
or are reborn as what you deserve.

Remember Āhāra?

One only needs to come a little bit near the state of being a homeless beggar to know that #1 is food.

 


 

The Food Giver

The food giver
Both gives and gets
Life, beauty, ease,
Energy and strength of wits

See: AN 5.37

 


 

Give the Dhamma

The best of gifts.

This is the gift of every good thing a person needs to know
expressed in a way that offends no one
because of sex, race, color, creed
(except those in every creed that say:
"Our teacher's words alone are the truth,
and every other teacher's words are wrong!"),
state of consciousness
or location in time ...
that is, unless they are the type of fool
that believes good is bad and bad is good,
and then what can you do?

 


 

How to Give

Be open handed,
free handed,
a master giver.

Give good things,
clean things,
with your own hand
at the right time
without regret
with a generous heart
believing in the great fruit of good deeds.

 


 

In the society of the Buddha's time, it was considered proper behavior to accept a gift (or agree to any proposition) by silence — it was only if the gift or proposition was objected to that one would speak.

This was a consequence partly of the belief in kamma, where the giver was the primary beneficiary of the act of giving, but the custom was also based on a respect for the value of few words.

On the other hand, the custom for the giver was to offer a gift this way:

"May the good sir accept this gift from me
as a favor to me."

Here today, we must respect the less sophisticated norms of the times and offer vocal thanks. There is no need to cause unnecessary discomfort to those of other views.

 


 

Expressing Gratitude

Beggars!
These two are hard to find
In the world:

One who offers
And
One who is grateful

The Book of Twos: 118

 


 

There was a tradition in the Buddha's day of expressing thanks at the end of a meal, so we can assume that there was no reason not to say "Thank You." However, the beggars were cautioned not to be too effusive in their thanks lest it be interpreted as a hint that they wanted more.

While one should give without attachment as to the consequence, it is also praised that one give with the outcome clearly in mind. It is possible to balance these two.

There are many instances mentioning the progression of ambitions desired, beginning from the wish to be reborn in this world as a wealthy individual to being reborn in one or another of the heaven worlds to giving simply to clarify the mind and heart.

One gives without attachment because the most powerful single factor in the making of a deed of magic (and giving to attain an outcome of any sort is conjuring, or magic) is Letting Go. You need to release the wish. Let the intent find it's own way to work itself out. If you try to control the outcome you are assuming a role beyond your scope.

On the other hand, to give without thought is likened to carelessness — pamāda.

 


 

Good Vibrations

High Getting High: The Four Godly Thoughts

This is an exercise that is practiced by meditators at the beginning of their sitting practice. It produces an immense blast of good kamma, and makes entry into the higher states much easier in many ways, not the least of which is a feeling of confidence based on the idea that no matter what one encounters this wave of good kamma will see one through safely.

Sit down. Flop forward. Rise up erect. Put a look of satisfaction on the face. And take in 1, 2, 3, Deep, Deep, Deep satisfying breaths and Let It All Go.

And then: Direct the mind toward pervading the four quarters with Metta: Friendly Vibrations (most often translated "Loving Kindness" it is the deep kindly regard held between two good friends).

Slow down! Make an effort to go through the entire sequence without skipping. At least do this once to see that it is not a waste of time. Then you will be consciously aware when you skip that you are cheating yourself. Project the wish outward orienting your mind to the actual direction relative to your seat. The mind loves this sort of thing in spite of how you feel! Note how you feel. That agitation and anxiousness to finish is you skipping over your life the same way as you skip over the rest of your life. If you do it slowly and thoroughly it is enormously powerful and satisfying. Something done right. Start early and practice frequently. Years later you will be able to look back and see the dramatic change this practice has made on the course of your life. And it will save your ass in many a sticky situwitcha.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Think: "O, o, o, may all beings feel friendly vibrations.
May all beings in the northern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the northeastern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the eastern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the southeastern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the southern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the southwestern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the western direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the northwestern direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the upward direction feel friendly vibrations
may all beings on this plane feel friendly vibrations
may all beings in the downward direction feel friendly vibrations."

And then: Direct the mind toward pervading the four quarters with Karuna: Sympathetic Vibrations (Pity, Compassion,)
Think: "O, o, o, may all beings feel sympathetic vibrations.
May all beings in the northern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the northeastern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the eastern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the southeastern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the southern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the southwestern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the western direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the northwestern direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the upward direction feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings on this plane feel sympathetic vibrations
may all beings in the downward direction feel sympathetic vibrations."

And then: Direct the mind toward pervading the four quarters with Mudita: Happiness at the Happiness's of Others (Soft heartedness, Kindness, Empathetic Joy)
Think: "O, o, o, may all beings feel happiness at the happiness's of others.
May all beings in the northern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the northeastern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the eastern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the southeastern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the southern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the southwestern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the western direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the northwestern direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the upward direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings on this plane feel happiness at the happiness's of others
may all beings in the downward direction feel happiness at the happiness's of others."

And then: Direct the mind toward pervading the four quarters with Upekkha: Objective Detachment
Think: "O, o, o, may all beings experience objective detachment.
May all beings in the northern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the northeastern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the eastern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the southeastern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the southern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the southwestern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the western direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the northwestern direction experience objective detachment
may all beings in the upward direction experience objective detachment
may all beings on this plane experience objective detachment
may all beings in the downward direction experience objective detachment."

The word "think" here is used for convenience; it is not necessary to think each thought in words. The idea is to "pervade". Conjure up the intended feeling, and project the mind outward into the direction intended.

Soak,
Permeate,
Suffuse and
Saturate

the area with the heartfelt wish
that all beings in the area be affected.

As you will see with practice, this produces a kind of light in one's mind's eye-view of the area. By the time the practice is completed, one has surrounded one's self in this light. Additionally, the repetition and progression of the exercise produces a powerful sense of well being and concentration.

Some people make this exercise their entire meditation practice. One should be aware, however, that from the Pali point of view, this exercise in and of itself only leads to the creation of a vast wealth of good kamma; it is not the Pali goal (which is the ending of pain, dukkha, the escape from kamma).

This is the reason for the fourth category: detachment.

It is only in combination with letting go that this practice helps one in the Pali task.

 

§

 

If a beggar, beggars, practices the heart of friendly vibrations,
even if only for so short a time as it takes to [SNAP] the fingers,
he is worthy to be called "beggar."
His is no useless meditation,
he lives making himself like the Teacher,
responding to intelligent advice,
subsisting on the gifts of the realm.

What then can be said
of one who makes much of such a thing?

If a beggar, beggars, develops the heart of friendly vibrations,
even if only for so short a time as it takes to [SNAP] the fingers,
he is worthy to be called "beggar."
His is no useless meditation,
he lives making himself like the Teacher, responding to intelligent advice,
subsisting on the gifts of the Realm.

What then can be said
of one who makes much of such a thing?

If a beggar, beggars, makes up his mind to have a heart of friendly vibrations,
even if only for so short a time as it takes to [SNAP] the fingers,
he is worthy to be called "beggar."
His is no useless meditation,
he lives making himself like the Teacher,
responding to intelligent advice,
subsisting on the gifts of the Realm.

What then can be said
of one who makes much of such a thing?

AN 1.053, 054, 055

 

§

 

Recommended Side Trip to Expansions on the Godly Thoughts


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