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Feb 21, 2018

Benefits of dana with right volition

by Sayagyi U Goenka

Dāna (donation) when given with pure volition, is highly beneficial. When one unselfishly and humbly gives dāna with Dhamma volition for the benefit of all beings, one’s mind is free from greed, harshness, enmity, selfishness, miserliness, and dullness. One's mind becomes noble, gentle, tender, tranquil, generous, virtuous and alert.

To give dāna is the fundamental duty of householders.
In the ancient spiritual tradition of India, dāna has always had special importance.

In ancient times, virtuous and wealthy householders and sages used to organise great ceremonies of dāna.

Noble donors like Emperor Vessantara in ancient times and Emperor Harsha established the illustrious ideal of donating all their possessions. Their volition behind giving dāna was truly selfless.

The wealth of the community tends to accumulate with the rulers and wealthy men. If this wealth remains with them, it begins to rot and makes the whole community unhealthy. If wealth is re-distributed, its purity is maintained.

Having understood this, a wise donor, considered his wealth as the wealth of the community. To save himself from the improper hoarding of wealth, he gave dāna so that others could share and enjoy this wealth.

This wise policy of equitable distribution of wealth preserved the equilibrium of social prosperity and prevented it from becoming an unbalanced destructive force.

The Global Vipassana Pagoda was built and is being maintained with selfless Dhamma service and very meritorious voluntary donations from people worldwide, for the benefit and happiness of many. 

An organization in East Asia wished to contribute the entire costs of building the Global Vipassana Pagoda - but the offer was respectfully declined because Sayagyi U Goenka most compassionately wished that many, many people earn the immeasurable benefits of donation for such an unique, most beneficial Dhamma project. 
Whether donating thousands of dollars or the elderly lady giving a few coins, the benefits are proportionate to the purity of volition when giving the donation.
(pix - Anand Nair, Wikimedia Commons)

The wealthy donor distributed his wealth equitably from time to time. He did not give his wealth with the desire to obtain something in return nor to boost his ego.

Viceyya dānaṃ dātabbaṃ,

yattha dinnaṃ mahapphalaṃ.”

Dāna given with wisdom is highly beneficial.

There are two kinds of dāna:

1. Vaṭṭamūlaka dāna: the dāna that keeps one entangled in the cycle of existence(bhavacakka).

2. Vivaṭṭamūlaka dāna: meaning the dāna that takes one out of the cycle of existence.

A wise person gives dāna such that it frees him from the cycle of existence.

As with all other kamma, so too the kamma of dāna is good or bad according to the volition of one’s mind. The vivaṭṭamūlakamind that cuts the cycle of existence is free of craving, free of aversion, and free of ignorance. Only the dāna given with this kind of mind is called vivaṭṭamūlaka dāna, which destroys the cycle of existence.

While giving such dāna, we do not consider our own benefit. Instead, we are delighted to see the happiness and welfare of the person receiving our dāna. When we take delight in the happiness of others, our minds become pure and tender and is freed from the limitations of narrow self-interest.

However, if while giving dāna we wish for any personal benefit, our mind is stained with craving, vaṭṭamūlakaDāna given with such volition of mind will only prolong the cycle of existence. If, as a result of giving dāna, we wish for worldly happiness, fame, respect, profit, or rebirth in heaven—our minds remains in bondage instead of becoming free from bondage.

Therefore, giving dāna with a mind stained with craving is wrong but even worse is to give dāna with the mind defiled with aversion. That becomes a cause of even greater harm to us; it becomes a process of earning demerits in the name of Dhamma. Not only do we lose the donated wealth, but simultaneously, the kamma done with a defiled mind becomes the cause of great sorrow and misfortune.

Let us understand by examples how we give dāna with the mind defiled with aversion:

A beggar standing outside my door is calling out, “Sir! Give alms, sir! Give alms!” Becoming enraged at his repeated pleas, I throw a coin at him to get rid of him. At that time, my mind is filled with anger and irritation.

Some people collecting donations for some school, or hospital have come to my shop. As soon as I see them, I fly into a rage and start grumbling, “Donation, donation! All the time, people are asking for donations! Accountant, give them five rupees and get rid of them.” While giving them the money, my mind is filled with resentment towards these undesirable donation-seekers.

Some minister or political leader orders me to give a donation for some cause. I do not have the slightest interest in it but I am afraid to refuse so I give dāna out of fear.

My Dhamma-teacher (kalyāna mitta) has sent a message to give a donation for some project. I do not wish to give this dāna but do so out of deference and diffidence.

The rest of the people in my community have given dāna for some work. I do not have the slightest desire to give any dāna  for it. However, if I do not donate, others will criticize me. So I give dāna to protect my reputation.

My rival has become famous because he has given a large donation. I give a bigger donation than him out of egotism.

In this way, I give dāna with the unwholesome volition of anger, resentment, irritation, fear, deference, diffidence, rivalry, jealousy, hostility, pride, and conceit. And after giving such dāna, I regret it whenever I remember it and defile my mind.

All actions done with wholesome Dhamma-volition are beneficial; all actions done with unwholesome volition are non-beneficial. For all benefits of Dhamma, dāna should always be given with wholesome volition.

When dāna is given with wholesome volition, the mind is filled with a feeling of renunciation and with delight at the happiness and benefit of others. It is filled with contentment before giving dāna, while giving dāna and after giving dāna.

Before giving dāna, such joyful thoughts arise in the mind, “I shall give dāna. Others will benefit from my dāna and gain happiness.”

While giving dāna also, my mind is suffused with these joyful thoughts, “I am giving dāna. I am fulfilling the duty of a householder! By this dāna, the recipients will benefit and gain happiness.”

After giving dāna, my mind is repeatedly filled with these auspicious thoughts, “I have given the dāna of food or clothes or medicines so that the recipients will be healthy and strong in mind and body and practising sīlasamādhi, and paññā, will attain their own welfare and will become the cause of the welfare of many. I have given the dāna of this cottage staying in which the meditator will practise sīlasamādhi and paññā. By practising Anapana and Vipassana, he will experience the peace and happiness of nibbāna and will become the cause of the peace and happiness of many.”

Whether the recipient of my dāna is a fully liberated arahant or any virtuous saintly person who is a follower of the path of arahants, my mind will be filled with boundless joy, “It is my good fortune that, by my dāna, such a saintly person will remain healthy and strong for some time, and through him, many others will gain happiness! By accepting my dāna he has bestowed boundless compassion on me.”

Pubbeva dānā sumano, dadaṃ cittaṃ pasādaye;

datvā attamano hoti, esā yaññassa sampadā.

(AN 2.6.37, Chaḷaṅgadānasuttaṃ)

The donor is happy before giving dāna, while giving dāna, and after giving dāna. Such is the abundance of happiness of dāna offered with wholesome volition.

In this way before giving dāna, while giving dāna, as well as after giving dāna, the donor fills his mind with pure contentment
May all beings be happy, be fully liberated from all suffering.

( original article: Right Volition of Dāna, Vipassana Newsletter, December, 2009)
One loses nothing by giving dāna with right volition - at the apparent level, it seems one's money is becoming less, but even this money is not actually lost. Even at the mundane level, one loses nothing. Dhamma takes care.
- Sayagyi U Goenka, one-day course discourse.
Opportunity to earn most beneficial merits (and to share those merits with all beings)

Jan 16, 2018

Global responsibility to protect purity of Global Vipassana Pagoda

Sapling from the original Bodhi Tree, now flourishing at the Global Vipassana Pagoda premises. May the liberating tree of Vipassana flourish for more than a thousand years.

"It is natural for misconceptions to arise in the minds of uninformed people about this Pagoda. They may feel that the symbol of some sectarian religion is being created. But when they see that no other religious ritual is being performed, there is no sign of incense, lamps, offerings, bells or idol worship, and only Vipassana meditation is practised - this misconception will be dispelled." 
- Most Compassionate Sayagyi U Goenka,1999

The Global Vipassana Pagoda, the Lighthouse of Dhamma, is facing threat of mismanagement by some misguided elements. The happenings of January 14, 2018, serve a warning for taking necessary steps to protect the purity of the Global Pagoda.

January 14, 2018, was scheduled as a special one-day course in commemoration of the passing-away anniversary of Sayagyi U Ba Khin and our Dhamma Mother Mataji (Mrs Illaichi Devi Goenka). Instead, the Dhamma Hall for meditation was filled with chairs, no meditation cushions, and the main Pagoda dome turned into a publicity function to receive the President of India and other local dignitaries. Instead of serious meditation, there were speeches.

The Global Vipassana Pagoda is a place for serious meditation for Vipassana meditators, and to share accurate knowledge about the most beneficial practice of Vipassana for yet-to-be students. It is not a venue to pander to so-called VIPs, nor a self-serving platform for non-seriousness meditators as trustees - some of whom appear to be misguided businessmen who forget the core purpose of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

Good that the President of India visited the Global Pagoda. Not good that he did not invest any time meditating, but instead placed some flowers as 'tribute' before the two large photo frames of the Principal Teachers of Vipassana, Sayagyi U Goenka and Mataji, at the center of the Global Pagoda dome meditation hall.

People may ask: why make a big fuss over a few flowers as offerings? Meditators coming to offer flowers as tribute, and not meditate in the Dhamma Hall, is the starting road to ruining the purity of the Pagoda, and turning it into another sectarian house of blind worship. The President of India set a dangerous precedent.

The largest dam needs the smallest crack for the beginning of its end, and so too the fortress of Dhamma.

Photographs of Principal Teachers at center of Global Pagoda Dome and Meditation Hall

The Global Vipassana Pagoda was built as gratitude to Sayagyi U Goenka's Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin, to commemorate his birth centenary year.

Sayagyi U Goenka first announced the Global Vipassana Pagoda project (the other two commemorative projects being  Dhamma Tapovana, and the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Village) when he conducted the Metta session of the 45-day course in 1999, in Dhamma Hall 1 of Dhamma Giri.

He attributed his revolutionary, most beneficial Vipassana service as grateful commemoration of his teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin. When the infinitely grateful Sayagyi U Goenka himself during his lifetime did not place any photograph of his teacher U Ba Khin (in his whose very honor the Global Pagoda was built) at the center of the main meditation hall / dome of the Pagoda - then who are we to place any photograph of our Principal Teachers at the centre of the main Pagoda meditation hall?

Evident are the dangers of having any images (even worse any statue of the Buddha etc) at the centre of the inner dome meditation hall of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

Non-meditator visitors may have this impression seeing people sitting closed-eyed around the large portrait: "oh, these people are praying to their guru".

Besides, these two large portraits diminish the dimension and natural grandeur of the inner dome of the Global Pagoda, deemed as one of the wonders of the world. Now entering the Pagoda dome, the eyes automatically first get drawn to the very large, lit-up photo frames at the center of the world's largest Vipassana meditation hall.

Lost is the earlier awe-inspiring, majestic grandeur of the pillar-less, world's largest hollow stone dome. This is not what Sayagyi U Goenka wished. This is not the wish of all those who served ardently and selflessly for years in building the Global Pagoda.

Sayagyi U Goenka would never have permitted his or anyone's portraits to be placed here, and hinder the silent Dhamma work of the Global Pagoda, ruin its sharing the liberating message of Vipassana for at least another thousand years.

Even worse, now comes the warning of January 14 - of a meditator who enters the inner dome meditation hall of the Global Pagoda, and finds no time to meditate, but has been allowed to offer flowers as deluded 'tribute' to the photographs of Sayagyi U Goenka and Mataji - inside the main meditation hall of the Global Vipassana Pagoda, on the day of a designated Special One-day Course.

This is how the Samassambuddha's practical teaching of Vipassana was lost in the country of its origin: of meditators offering hollow floral and ritual tributes, instead of the tribute of purity through Vipassana practice. Meditation was forgotten. Then sila was forgotten. Monks and nuns live immoral lives. They lose the protection of Dhamma that protects those who protect the Dhamma - by Vipassana practice. And Vipassana was lost to India. Sayagyi U Goenka's Dhamma work is to ensure this never happens again.

No one in the true lineage of the Samsassambuddhas will sit by silently seeing the seeds of impurity being sown again, and so soon at the start of the second cycle of revival of Vipassana - at the very meditation heart of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

Dhamma administrators to protect purity of the Global Vipassana Pagoda

On the special meditation day of January 14, the main Dome meditation hall of the Global Pagoda had been turned into venue of a public function for the President of India and local dignitaries. Was this mistimed, misplaced 'tamasha' necessary? Could not the dignitaries be respectfully offered hospitality outside the meditation hall, elsewhere in the vast premises of the Global Vipassana Pagoda?

The Global Vipassana Pagoda (or any Vipassana Centre) has no room for any deluded 'VIP culture' that is the curse of India  - this weakness of  'VIP' madness that the Prime Minister of India is trying to eradicate.

Dangers always lurk of having non-serious meditators 'serving' as trustees of any Vipassana centre, most particularly the Global Vipassana Pagoda. Wrong decisions tend to get taken, whatever their good intentions.
  • To ensure more wholesome Dhamma decisions, only meditators who have taken long courses - and take at least the 20-day course a year - should be permitted to serve in any senior capacity in the Global Vipassana Pagoda, under the guidance of the concerned Vipassana acharya (teacher).
  • First find time for your own serious meditation to purify your mind, and then find time to serve in the Global Vipassana Pagoda. 
Likewise, all Vipassana students are welcome to offer Dhamma service in the Global Pagoda, or in any Vipassana centre. But first meditate.

A biological son or Dhamma son of Sayagyi U Goenka who does not meditate is no longer a Vipassana student, and has no right to take decisions or interfere with any Dhamma administration - most particularly administration of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

Sayagyi U Goenka only wished to share Vipassana and preserve its purity for millennia. He was not interested in personal publicity and self-glorification. Otherwise he could have easily become world famous had he publicly exhibited certain mental faculties that get naturally opened up in a very pure mind - his powers experientially evident only to one or very few (advanced meditators) serving closely under him. But he chose to live a life of purity and humility, in accordance with the teaching of the Fully Enlightened Ones.

Allow no none to turn the Global Vipassana Pagoda as base for a new 'Goenka cult', and destroy his priceless legacy of Dhamma.

Global responsibility to protect purity of Global Vipassana Pagoda

The Global Vipassana Pagoda belongs to all humanity, all sentient beings who serve visibly or less visibly in Dhamma - from any plane of existence.

Built with dana received worldwide, this is a global Dhamma project of historic and far-reaching significance. And therefore, there is a global responsibility to ensure proper administration of the Global Pagoda - in line with purity of Dhamma.
  • One deserving Dhamma service representative from North America, Europe and East Asia / Pacific etc can be included in the core administration of the Global Vipassana Pagoda - whether as trustee, or in consultative capacity. This one-year-term, rotating representative may be an assistant teacher or not, but he has to be a senior Dhamma worker who sits one annual long course. 
  • This is to ensure more universal wisdom to protect the purity of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
May we have strong, regularly meditating administrators who take wise decisions that protect the Vipassana practice core of this infinitely beneficial Dhamma structure.

May all beings serving and visiting the Global Vipassana Pagoda gain the true benefits of Vipassana.
May all beings be liberated.