GENEROSITY AND COMPASSION
The Buddhist Way
A true spiritual life is not possible without a generous heart. Generosity
is the very first parami, or quality of an awakened mind.
Generosity could be considered as the foundation of the Buddhist path.
The cultivation of generosity is the beginning of spiritual awakening.
Generosity arises from an inner quality of letting go. Letting go
gives us profound freedom. Generosity according to Buddhism, opens
our heart, frees us from attachment and is the basis of all good qualities.
Pure unhindered delight flows freely when we practice generosity.
Generosity is to give without expectation of anything in return. Our
most basic drive is a longing for happiness. We all want to be happy.
When we are giving something without any expectation in return, this
is what we are acknowledging. Both parties become happy.
If we give a gift without attachment to a certain result, without
expectation of what will come back to us, it is like a celebration.
It is celebrating freedom within ourselves as the giver and also freedom
that is generated in the receiver.
Although from outside it looks like they have nothing to give, even
very poor people have enough to share and keep giving. They give what
they can. They also have a strong sense of abundance. But, there are
some wealthy people in this world who have a tremendous sense of inner
poverty, that it is very difficult for them to let go of clinging
to their possessions. It is very painful and very hard for them to
share and give.
Inner discipline is the basis of a spiritual life. Inner discipline
involves combating negative states of mind such as greed and cultivation
of positive states of mind such as generosity, compassion, tolerance
and caring. It is the fundamental method of achieving happiness.
Compassion is Free From Attachment
Compassion is a state of mind that is non-harming and non-aggressive.
It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of
their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility
and respect towards the other.
Compassion does not involve a give and take principle. Genuine compassion
is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire
to be happy and overcome suffering. They have the natural right to
fulfill this fundamental aspiration. On the basis of the recognition
of this equality and commonality, one develops a sense of affinity
and closeness with others. With this foundation one can feel compassion
regardless of whether one views the other person as a Buddhist, Christian,
Hindu or Islam. It is based on the others fundamental rights
rather than your own mental projection.
Generosity, Compassion and Human Health
In recent years there have been many studies that support the idea
that developing compassion, generosity and altruism has a positive
impact on our physical and emotional health. Reaching out to help
others can induce a feeling of happiness, a calmer mind and less depression.
Adopting an altruistic lifestyle is a critical component of good
mental health according to many studies. They have shown that those
regularly involved in volunteer activities helping others, display
feelings of warmth, more energy and a kind of euphoria. They have
a distinct feeling of calmness and enhanced self-worth following these
voluntary activities. Not only did these caring behaviors provide
an interaction that was emotionally nourishing but it was also found
that this helpers calm was linked to relief from a variety
of stress- related physical disorders as well.
Need for Organized Volunteer Services
As an integral part of the social value system, taking the initiative
voluntarily to help others, takes place spontaneously among the Sinhela
people in times of crisis. This has been noticed time and gain in
the past, and was well displayed during the recent tsunami event.
However, as far as regular on-going community service activities are
concerned, except in occasional sramadhana campaigns,
our people have still not been well organized and mobilized to be
involved in volunteer services on a regular basis. The majority of
our population consists of young people, and it is important that
they are organized in a meaningful manner, to serve on various community
projects on a volunteer basis. These youth voluntary services should
be appreciated and receive due recognition by the schools, universities
and the governments at various levels. It should be considered as
an accomplishment on the part of a student and carry weight in his
or her curriculum vitae, like in Western countries. With all the deceitful
activities going on in the country threatening Buddhism and Buddhist
culture, we need to make use of our youth both male and female,
lay and ordained, initially on a town, village and district basis,
to help protect these foundations of our life Buddhism and
Buddhist Culture, from being undermined and threatened by Christian
elements in various direct and indirect forms, sometimes with the
support of corrupt, and treacherous politicians.