Dāna = Generosity
According to Yogic philosophy we are always in a state of using up 'seeds' or karma, and planting more seeds of karma for the future. It is good to be generous, loving, caring, and do nice things for others because it may help them and also because it plants good seeds that blossom and create more good karma in our own life down the road.
Scientists talk about how there is a dose of serotonin that is released when we do good for others. There is benefit, of course, to receiving as well. A lot of the time, however, giving is even yummier. It just makes you feel really good, like you have done something good, contributed to someone else's happiness.
Dāna, a Sanksrit word, means generosity. It is a fundamental part of Buddhist society. Monks and nuns receive Dāna or offerings of food, clothes, alms, from lay-people. It is an opportunity for a lay-person to practice generosity, to plant positive seeds for the future by helping the monk or nun to continue along their spiritual path.
Reflecting on this idea of doing something for someone else, practicing Dāna or generosity every day, I was walking down the street on my way to do some errands. I saw a group of men walking in my direction. One of them said "do one good deed a day." The Universe was speaking. I continued walking and a well-to-do lady stopped me and expressed her befuddlement that one of the men stopped and put a two-dollar coin into her parking meter out of the blue! I said, "yes, but isn't it a nice thing?" She said "yes, but why not do it for someone who really needs it?" The plot thickens, I thought to myself. An interesting twist.
It is kind to do things for others. I think that it is good to even shock someone a little with generosity! I mean why should we just walk past each other as if we are so disconnected (when we know we really are very connected). But the lady had a good point. She didn't really need the two dollars...
Either way good seeds are being planted, but what would happen if generosity were channeled to create something of cumulative, direct and beneficial change?
Imagine if we started a conscious act of generosity each and every day. I could bake some corn-bread muffins for the neighbour. I could go for a walk and remove some litter on the country-road on the way. I will really start to think about the effects of channeled generosity and where it would be beneficial to place my time and energy.
What will you do?