Dana (Giving)

offeringBuddhist monks depend on the support of well wishers for their four requisites of robes, food, shelter and medicine and Buddhist monks in turn provide spiritual guidance and advice to lay supporters. Also, these acts of benevolence gives lay supporters the opportunity to acquire merit that results from their kind intentions.

Giving of material things

The giving of material things (amisa-dana), for instance, to support bhikkhus, to give to the poor, starving and so forth. There is no lack of opportunity to practice this in our over-populated world. And Buddhists who have enough of this world's wealth, enough of clothes, food, shelter and medicine which are the basic necessities for life should practice dana bearing in mind that what is given away is truly well preserved while what is kept is wasted. The practice, running counter to the worldly way of craving and attachment, is very important in the present materialistic civilization with its emphasis upon gain and accumulation of possessions. Nothing much can be done in Dhamma until one is prepared to open one's heart and one's hands to others.

Giving of Dhamma

The giving of Dhamma (Dhamma-dana) means the gift of some useful teaching and advice for others. It is necessary to know what will benefit them if one would give this gift in the right way. Dhamma is the supreme gift in the world, as said by the Buddha:

All gifts the gift of Dhamma does excel,
all tastes the taste of dhamma does excel,
all joys the joy of Dhamma does excel —
the craving-ender overcomes all dukkha.
— Dhp. 354

All material things wear out with use but the Dhamma increases as we practice it. And material things give benefit only in this life, while the Dhamma benefits the practice now and in future lives as well.

Giving of non-fear

The giving of non-fear (abhaya-dana) means acting in such a way that other beings do not have any cause to fear oneself. This is another name for the practice of loving-kindness (metta) and is based upon good moral conduct (sila).