Generosity Leads to Happiness

The perfection of generosity (dana) is the first of six paramitas (perfections or virtues) taught by the Buddha. The Buddha taught that generosity leads to happiness and a whole lot of other benefits.

Modern research is beginning to confirm this 2,600 year old wisdom tradition. The scientists are also telling us that generosity leads to happiness. They are saying that generosity keeps stress in check, and that it is beneficial for the greater good. It inspires others to be generous and keep the cycle of “good” going. They say that it is good for your marriage and it promotes mental health. Most of all, they say that it prolongs life.

The other paramitas are the perfection of ethics (sila), the perfection of patience (ksanti), the perfection of diligence or energy (virya), the perfection of concentration (dhyana) and the perfection of wisdom (prajna).

In these words of wisdom from Tricycle Daily Dharma by Dale Wright, we learn that practicing generosity also leads to recognizing that the needs of other people are just as important as our own needs. He identifies this as being part of the bodhisattva‘s vow.

A bodhisattva is one who vows to not enter the final stages of enlightenment until all sentient beings are also ready to do so. He or she thereby works for the betterment of all beings.

The Vow Behind Generosity | August 2, 2014
Every act of generosity reminds us of the possibility that we might actually live the bodhisattva’s vow, the vow to engage in everyday life as though the well-being of others is just as important as our own.

– Dale S. Wright, “The Bodhisattva’s Gift”
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara at Buddha Gate

Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara at Buddha Gate Photo Jerome Freedman

I once saw a move in which two girls got on a train in the first class compartment without tickets. When the conductor came by, he wanted to kick them off the train at the next stop. A man in the row in front of them offered to pay their fare, and when he did, he was instantly rewarded.

This inspired me to had a five dollar bill to a homeless person in the park near my home.

What acts of generosity have you done in the past twenty-four hours? What else can you do to practice the paramita of generosity? Please comment.

This book by Dale Wright seems to be a perfect match for this article. Check it out!

Books by Dale Wright

The Six Perfections: Buddhism and the Cultivation of Character

Dale Wright

Here is a lucid, accessible, and inspiring guide to the six perfections–Buddhist teachings about six dimensions of human character that require “perfecting”: generosity, morality, tolerance, energy, meditation, and wisdom. Drawing on the Diamond Sutra, the Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom, an… [Read More…]

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