Generosity has Value for Spiritual Growth

“Anathapindika, who lived 2,600 years ago, was an early follower of the Buddha. Anathapindika was a businessman who was very generous, and he used his time and energy to help the destitute people of his city. He gave away a lot of his wealth to the poor, yet he did not become less wealthy. He received a lot of happiness. …

“One day the Buddha learned that his beloved disciple, Anathapindika, was very sick. He went to visit him and urged Anathapindika to practice mindful breathing while in bed. …

“The first question Shariputra asked was, ‘Dear friend Anathapindika, how do you feel? Is the pain in your body growing worse, or has it begun to lessen?” Anathapindika said, “No, friends, the pain in me is not lessening. It is getting worse all the time.’ …

“Shariputra invited Anathapindika to breathe in and out mindfully and to focus his attention on his happiest recollections: his work for the poor, his many acts of generosity, and the love and compassion he shared with his family and his fellow students of the Buddha. In just five or six minutes, the pain that Anathapindika had been feeling throughout his body lessened as the seeds of happiness in him were watered, and he smiled. Watering the seeds of happiness is a very important practice for those who are sick or dying.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Value of Generosity

I heard somewhere that J. K. Rowling, author of the harry Potter books, was the first person to make it to the billionaires list, then get removed because she donated so much to charity, she was no longer a billionaire. I’m sure nearly all those still on that list think she is a fool. Actually, they are the fools. Their greed will not make them healthy. It won’t give them a long life. And it usually doesn’t even make them happy. They live in fear of being robbed, or in some other way loosing what they value most: Money.

That don’t understand what Rowling and all spiritual people do. That what really matter in our short life in the physical realm is what we do to help others advance and escape from this fallen plane. The materialists, especially the greedy ones, don’t understand that the bad thoughts constantly sent their way by the many people they hurt does more harm than poverty would. On the other hand, the generous person is sent happy thoughts, helpful thoughts, and that is more useful than piles of money.

More Friends

Another advantage of being generous is that the generous person has more friends. While the greedy may not realize it, people will be more likely to help you out if they know you are generous. The greedy can only get help by paying for it. And when some one is paid to help someone they know to be greedy, their heart isn’t really into it and the assistance may be limited.

Focus on Happiness

The example given in the quote is of a generous person who is ill and dying. Like many of us who think we don’t fear death, that often changes when death is looking us in the eye. But the dying man is taught to focus on happy times and happy deeds. To focus on how his generosity helped others. In short, by taking his mind off of his problems. This is always a good plan.

I know there are people, especially elderly people, who seem to delight in discussing their illnesses and pains when they have a conversation. By dwelling on such things, they concentrate the mind on them and make them worse. Or at least seem worse because you are concentrating on them. Pain is really a combination of nerve signals and the brain’s attention to those signals. Get the brain to concentrate on more pleasant things, and you stop noticing the pain.

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