Friday, August 15, 2008

Five Ways Of Performing Dāna Part (5) By Venerable Shwe Oo Min Sayardaw (ဒါနျပဳနည္းသိေကာင္းစရာ အပိုင္း ၅)

The fifth type is to offer Dāna without making defamatory remarks on others. Some people will say, “Oh, that family next door, they go out so much. But never saw them doing Dāna. We, not because we have plenty of money, but we always donate. We cannot exist without Dāna.” Saying things malicious about others. If you can do it, if you can afford to donate, by all means donate. When you cannot afford to donate, of course do not donate. But you should not say slanderous comments on other’s lack of Dāna (charitable) act. By saying slanderous words about others, one will live without being free from the five perils. Because one has done Dāna, one will be wealthy. But, like that saying, “Every time a deer was born, time after time, a tiger came and ate it!” one’s properties are destroyed by fire, water, king or ruler, a thief, or by one’s bad heirs. Those are the incessant troubles that one cannot recover from. By donating without malicious speeches about others, you can be sure that your wealth will be protected from the five perils. We all need that kind of protection at this day and age. One will not get killed for a necklace. If you do not willingly give it away, not even half a chunk of charcoal from your property can be taken away from you. Not even a single rose; not even a branch of banana leaves. You will have such security. Nowadays, not very secure. Money out of your pocket can be stolen. Therefore, do not donate with derogatory remarks about others who are not doing Dāna. So,

" With no slander,
If we practice generosity,
The five perils will be expelled."

These are the five ways of performing Dāna by the noble ones (Sappurisa-Dāna). Due to the presence of Sakkacca Gārava in your act of Dāna, you will not only be prosperous, but also be influential. Having donated with the true Saddhā, you will not only be wealthy, you will also be endowed with beauty. Timely Dāna will bring about the early enjoyment of the benefits. He will have ample time to support the Sāsana. Fourthly, having donated without stinginess, one can spend freely for one self, as well as can give away to others freely too. Perform Dāna without making disparaging remarks of others. You should perform acts of charity - any small amount that you can afford, with eagerness and enthusiasm. And it will bring forth the benefits of your lives free from five kinds of perils.

We can find these benefits in the story of the rich man Jotika and the King Ājatasattu. Ājatasattu had that streak since born. When his father took the young prince Ājatasattu to visit the house of Jotika, Ājatasattu was not pleased, as he found the wealth of Jotika much more so than theirs, the sovereigns. Jotika had all Kusalas that were mentioned above. Thinking his father was weak, Ājatasattu decided that when his father passed away, when he became the king, he would take over all these wealth from Jotika. When he became the king, and when his plan to take away Jotika's properties failed; in humiliation he took a detour towards Jetavana monastery where Buddha resided. He was surprised to find Jotika there. He asked Jotika how he escaped. Jotika replied that he did not understand what he was talking about. Ājatasattu told him that he had marched his army by underground tunnels to seize Jotika’s compound. Jotika’s defending army was very powerful and strategically positioned. Therefore his army could not succeed and had to go into hasty retreat. His soldiers went disarrayed, and he was the only one left. Jotika said he had no army. Ājatasattu said there were so many soldiers. In reality, Ājatasattu and his soldiers saw their own reflections in multiple numbers from the walls of the mansion that Jotika lived. Jotika said if he did not willingly give away, not even a piece of pottery nor a string of his cotton yarn could be taken away from him. He then challenged Ājatasattu; he dared the king to take off the ruby ring that he was wearing on his finger. Frightening, isn’t it? For a king still having Lobha for a single ring. He pulled and pulled to relieve the ring from Jotika’s finger – to no avail. Jotika had such security from the five perils. Audience here should have the same kind of Kusalas, the same kind of security, shouldn’t you?

We are lucky to be in this day and age, where we can accumulate all these Kusalas. Today, you have all Kusalas in conjunction with the Vassa robes donation to the Sangha. (1) You have Kusala for having offered Dāna. (2) You have Kusala for having paid homage to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. (3) You have Kusala having taken refuge in the triple gems. (4) You have Kusala for having managed to take and then maintain the five precepts (Sīla Kusala). (5) You have obtained Kusala for having done the food donation at the frequency of every fortnight. These are Thāvara Kusalas (firm, strong, immovable). You have acquired this noble habit. (6) You have offered Vassa robes to the Sangha at Vassa period every year. These are the timely Dānas.

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