Giving means possessing forever

Update: 20/08/2020
A disciple asked his Master, “Dear my Master, I wonder what is the difference between alms-giving and offering?”

Giving means possessing forever


The master answered, ”Actually, they have the same meaning. ‘Alms-giving’ means giving away because the Buddha is at a higher level to us. We call it ‘offering’ in order to show our respect. But you must remember to do it with all your respect and sincerity”.

The disciple kept asking, “So the merits that we get between the alms-giving to beings and the offering to the Buddha are the same, aren’t they?”

The Master smiled and answered:

- Both alms-giving and offering are the way for you to grow your Bodhi-mind. You can not cultivate completely if you still mind how many merits you get. What you can count is not eternity but reality and can be born and destroyed. So, “Reaching Buddhism without counting the benefits” that means when you cultivate you must keep your mind free from wishing, comparing, scaring, anxiety etc. Keeping your mind is keeping your religion and religion is your boddhi-mind.

The disciple may be awaked a little bit. After a while, he kept asking:

-  It is said that we should not wish for merits when doing cultivation. But please tell me about the blessing of the offering. The Master patted the disciple’s head, smiled and answered:

-     Ah, you can not give up your greed! You still desire the merits and can not cultivate without distraction. But I can tell you if you want to know.

The Great Monk taught that:

- Who offers the flowers can gain a beautiful outlook like the Buddha.

- Who offers the incense can get the perfect consequence, “fragrance”.

- Who offers the light of candles can get a pure and bright mind.

- Who offers the jewel bracelets can get enough solemn blessings.

- Who offers the curtains can get so many treasures to help poor people.

- Who offers bells and plaques can get respect and admiration.

- Who offers the singing can hear wonderful dharma. 

Those are the most basic offerings. You must remember to transfer merits to people. You should not cultivate to keep all merits for yourself.  

Through the conversation, we can see that the boddhi-mind is the mind that heads to the enlightenment, empathy and compassion for the benefits of all beings. The boddhi-mind will motivate our action to benefit all beings by achieving the Buddha fruit through expression and ingenious means. That is a feeling, a motivation to replace the sufferings of people with happiness. 

 In Ksitigarbha sutra, the Buddha taught Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, “In the Jambuvipa, there are some kings, some high title officials, some rich man etc. If they can do alms-giving happily by themselves when they see people who are poor, disable, mute, lisp, deaf, blind etc., they can get as much merit as they do offering to many Buddhas. Why? Because they express their compassion to the poor and disable people. The merit that they archive in thousand normal lives is full of things that need for life such as clothes, foods, beverages etc.”  

 So, when giving alms to people with the loved and respected mind, we can get the same merits that we get when we do offering for just one but so many Buddhas. Therefore, some people can get a lot of benefits by giving alms  to the poor although they don’t follow Buddhism or worship the pagoda.  

However, the way to achieve the greatest merit is giving. For example, we are not able to lecture like the monks or nuns, we can publish prayer-books, share the lectures, the program such as Buddhist music on facebook, youtube, twitter, ect. If we do that, we contribute to transmit the Buddha’s teaching to everyone and gradually implement the Dharma donation.  

Being a Buddhist, we should cultivate both for us and for people, especially in the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s protect ourselves with the epidemic prevention measures of the Ministry of Health as well as follow the request of the Government. Keeping our mind at ease and sharing necessary information with others. Protecting your health is also protecting people’s health. If we do not have financial ability to give alms to people, just give them a bright and happy smile. If our mind is kind, even though we don’t have a single coin VND to do charity but a warm, encouraged, comfortable smile or a sincere counsel is enough for us to accumulate merits. When we give away the happiness, the fearlessness, we proceed the fearless donation in the Buddha’s mentions.

 “Giving means possessing not losing.

Growing cause means getting an effect which belongs to ourselves”. (Senior Ven. Thích Chân Tính)

Not only in current life, but the merits and good fortune also remain forever in many lives in the future. Giving away is the method to achieve merits. Giving way just like depositing money in the bank. In this case, it is called the “Cause and Effect” bank. It is safe and secure, so that one day, when we have needs, it will give us full of comfortable conditions to accomplish everything. So, right now, we should grow the merit tree in order to harvest the good fruits and flowers in the future. Wishing the public would be strong, easeful, happy and peaceful in this Covid stage.

Namo Amitabha Buddha 

Tâm Hóa

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