The Giver Should Be Thankful

While Seisetsu was Master of Engakuji Temple in Kamakura, Umezu Seibei, a wealthy merchant, donated 500 ryo to build larger monastery quarters. Umezu brought the money in gold to the teacher. Seisetsu said, "All right, I will receive it." Umezu was quite dissatisfied with this response. He hinted, "In that sack is 500 ryo." "You told me that before," replied Seisetsu. "Even though I am quite wealthy," Umezu continued, "500 ryo is a lot of money." "Do you want me to thank you for it?" asked Seisetsu. "Don't you think you should?" Umezu replied. "Why should I?" inquired Seisetsu. "The giver should be thankful."

Buddhist giving is called dana, a Sanskrit word meaning to offer, share, or gladly give. Dana is the first of the six Buddhist Paramitas (virtues). Dana does not expect return or thank you. Today, most giving is out of obligation, sympathy, or expediency. Rarely is it joyous giving. Giving from such sources needs to expect thanks. In truth, however, the thankfulness of the giver should be greater than that of the receiver. To love, to be able to love, is richer than being loved. The Buddha created the system of daily begging not only to teach monks humility, but also to teach people dana.


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