How to give with integrity – in 5 ways

“These five are a person of integrity’s gifts.

Which five?

A person of integrity gives a gift:

  1. With a sense of conviction.
  2. Attentively.
  3. In season.
  4. With an empathetic heart.
  5. Without adversely affecting himself or others.

1. “Having given a gift with a sense of conviction, he — wherever the result of that gift ripens — is rich, with much wealth, with many possessions. And he is well-built, handsome, extremely inspiring, endowed with a lotus-like complexion.

2. “Having given a gift attentively, he — wherever the result of that gift ripens — is rich, with much wealth, with many possessions. And his children, wives, slaves, servants, and workers listen carefully to him, lend him their ears, and serve him with understanding hearts.

3. “Having given a gift in season, he — wherever the result of that gift ripens — is rich, with much wealth, with many possessions. And his goals are fulfilled in season.

4. “Having given a gift with an empathetic heart, he — wherever the result of that gift ripens — is rich, with much wealth, with many possessions. And his mind inclines to the enjoyment of the five strings of lavish sensuality.

5. “Having given a gift without adversely affecting himself or others, he — wherever the result of that gift ripens — is rich, with much wealth, with many possessions. And not from anywhere does destruction come to his property — whether from fire, from water, from kings, from thieves, or from hateful heirs.

“These five are a person of integrity’s gifts.”

Source: “Sappurisadana Sutta: A Person of Integrity’s Gifts” (AN 5.148), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 3 July 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.148.than.html .

So basically, give with all your heart, with compassion and be attentive to what they may like or need at that time.

The last point – give without adversely affecting himself or others.  Here’s an example – if you try and pressure others to contribute to a gift when they don’t want to or it will burden them to – that’s an example of adversely affecting others when giving.

Or maybe your gift will harm others – like giving someone drugs and alcohol, cigarettes – these things are best not given.  Or maybe you give something to someone and then they use it for drugs and alcohol and smokes or gambling – not only have you just wasted your money, they’re doing something unwholesome with it.

Or maybe you’ll harm yourself or those around you by giving someone something that you couldn’t afford to give – and so, place yourself or your family in a worse off situation.

So it’s not always wise to always give.  Cos you think – Buddhism is about giving – so you might think that you just give and give and give whatever you have.  No.  Sometimes, it’s better to give, sometimes, it’s better not to give.  But when you do give – you give with wisdom.

Here’s an example of a mistake that I made in giving.

Many years ago, I found a copy of the Surangama Sutra with an explanation by a lay practitioner that was different to Master Hsuan Hua’s commentary and Charles Luk’s version.  See, when you learn, it’s good to get different perspectives on the same topic so you can look at the same subject from different angles to get a more complete view of it.  I remember thinking – hey, this guy explains pretty well!

So during lunch break, a friend of mind saw me reading it and asked me what I was reading.  Then, I offered to lend her the book so that she could see for herself.  Because at that time, I thought, “A Buddhist always lets others benefit first”.

Fast forward a few weeks later, as she’s borrowed it and I had not received it back yet – so I ask her, “Hey, how did you find that book?” (See, during this time, I thought she had been reading it)

Her response?  “What book?  You didn’t lend me any book”  She had not even recalled that I had lent her that precious book with the deep wisdom of the Buddhas within it!  And now, not only has she lost it, but denied that I even lent her anything!  So I just told her to try to look for it – but I doubt she looked very hard.

Over the years, I’ve tried to look for that book again – but without success.  It was a one of a kind it seems – a rare translation of one person’s perspective in how he used the Surangama Sutra in his own life and how he understood it.  I think it was a Chinese uncle.

If I still had that book, maybe I could have shared some of it’s wisdom with all you guys here!  And maybe you guys could have benefitted from that book’s wisdom!

But alas, what’s gone is gone.

Hence why, it’s not always good to always give.  You need to give with wisdom.  And give so that your ability to give in the future will not be adversely affected.  Because in this case, I am now, not able to share with the world and with you all, the wisdom that was in that precious, one of a kind book!  Such a shame!

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