Skillful Giving – How to Donate

One of the most convenient ways of developing wholesome mental states is to give or donate to others. However, the benefits accruing from donating, both for the donor and the recipient will vary depending on each side’s virtue or spiritual development.

Anguttaranikaaya  AN 6.37   PTS: A iii 335
Dana Sutta: Giving
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. And on that occasion the lay woman Velukandaki, Nanda’s mother, had established a donation endowed with six factors for the community of monks headed by Sariputta and Moggallana. The Blessed One saw with his divine eye, surpassing the human, that the laywoman Velukandaki, Nanda’s mother, had established a donation endowed with six factors for the community of monks headed by Sariputta and Moggallana. On seeing this, he addressed the monks: “Monks, the lay woman Velukandaki, Nanda’s mother, has established a donation endowed with six factors for the community of monks headed by Sariputta and Moggallana.
“And how is a donation endowed with six factors? There is the case where there are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients.
“And which are the three factors of the donor? There is the case where the donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is bright and clear; and after giving is gratified. These are the three factors of the donor.
“And which are the three factors of the recipients? There is the case where the recipients are free of passion or are practicing for the subduing of passion; free of aversion or practicing for the subduing of aversion; and free of delusion or practicing for the subduing of delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.
“Such are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients. And this is how a donation is endowed with six factors.
“And it is not easy to take the measure of the merit of a donation thus endowed with six factors as ‘just this much a bonanza of merit, a bonanza of what is skillful — a nutriment of bliss, heavenly, resulting in bliss, leading to heaven — that leads to what is desirable, pleasing, charming, beneficial, pleasant.’ It is simply reckoned as a great mass of merit, incalculable, immeasurable.
“Just as it is not easy to take the measure of the great ocean as ‘just this many buckets of water, just this many hundreds of buckets of water, just this many thousands of buckets of water, or just this many hundreds of thousands of buckets of water.’ It is simply reckoned as a great mass of water, incalculable, immeasurable. In the same way, it is not easy to take the measure of the merit of a donation thus endowed with six factors as ‘just this much a bonanza of merit, a bonanza of what is skillful — a nutriment of bliss, heavenly, resulting in bliss, leading to heaven — that leads to what is desirable, pleasing, charming, beneficial, pleasant.’ It is simply reckoned as a great mass of merit, incalculable, immeasurable.”
Before giving, glad; while giving, the mind is bright and clear; having given, one is gratified: This is the consummation of the sacrifice. Free of passion, free of aversion, free of delusion, without fermentation: the consummation of the field of the sacrifice, one restrained, leading the holy life. Having rinsed oneself, having given with one’s own hands, then — because of oneself, because of the other —  that is a sacrifice yielding great fruit. Having given thus — intelligent — a person of conviction, with awareness released, reappears — wise — in a world of bliss unalloyed.
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