charity, generosity

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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Eternal Life with No Birth and No Death

“The Nature of No-Birth and No-Death The cloud cannot become nothing. It is possible for a cloud to become rain or snow or hail. But it’s not possible for a cloud to become nothing. That’s why the view of annihilation is a wrong view. If you’re a scientist and you think that after the disintegration of this body you are no longer there—you become nothing, you pass from being to nonbeing—then you are not a very good scientist, because your view goes against the evidence. … A cloud has not come from nothing. A cloud always comes from something. So there is no birth; there is only a continuation. That is the nature of everything: no-birth, no-death. The eighteenth-century French scientist Antoine Lavoisier declared, “Rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd” (Nothing is created, nothing is lost). Lavoisier saw the same truth that the Buddha saw, that nothing is born and nothing dies. Our true nature is no-birth and no-death. Only when we touch our true nature can we transcend the fear of nonbeing, the fear of annihilation.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

No Birth

Thich Nhat Hanh has an unusual interpretation of what birth and death means. Most of us say that when an egg hatches and a chicken pops out, that chicken has just been born. Hanh says that is not true because the chicken existed as an egg before that. And before the egg, it was something else. So while his belief in no-birth is correct, so is the conventional belief in birth and death. That is possible because most of us have a different definition of birth and death than Hanh does. He is interpreting birth as an arrival from complete nonexistence. By that definition, there is no birth, only change. But most of us think of a major change in form as birth. That is especially true when what we think of as none-living matter becomes a living plant or animal. Things can get confusing, however, when we have to deal with beings that go through metamorphosis as part of their life. Does the caterpillar die to give birth to the butterfly? Most would say “No,” but by the standard definition of birth, the butterfly was born, so the caterpillar must have died.

My personal feeling is that Hahn is correct, though not exactly for the reasons he states. I think all being are immortal because all beings have a spirit. Since spirits exist outside the confines of time and space, they are immortal. Therefore, they are never born and never die. Eternal life exists for the spirit and soul, not for the body. Continue reading “Eternal Life with No Birth and No Death”

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Death Fear Becomes Fear of Life

“Our greatest fear is that when we die, we will become nothing. Many of us believe our entire existence is limited to a particular period, our “lifespan.” We believe it begins when we are born—when, out of being nothing, we become something—and it ends when we die and become nothing again. So we are filled with a fear of annihilation. But if we look deeply, we can have a very different understanding of our existence. We can see that birth and death are just notions; they’re not real. The Buddha taught that there is no birth and no death. Our belief that these ideas about birth and death are real creates a powerful illusion that causes us a great deal of suffering. When we understand that we can’t be destroyed, we’re liberated from fear. It’s a huge relief. We can enjoy life and appreciate it in a new way.
“When you lose a loved one, you suffer. But if you know how to look deeply, you have a chance to realize that his or her nature is truly the nature of no-birth, no-death. There is manifestation, and there is the cessation of manifestation in order to have another manifestation. You have to be alert to recognize the new manifestations of one person. But with practice and effort, you can do it. Pay attention to the world around you, to the leaves and the flowers, to the birds and the rain. If you can stop and look deeply, you will recognize your beloved manifesting again and again in many forms.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Death Fear

Fear of death is indeed one of the greatest fears for most of us. More accurately, we fear that there is no afterlife and we will just cease to exist. Or perhaps worse, that there is an after life and we will end up in hell. All of those fears can be overcome in one way or another.

As for the fear that there is no afterlife and we simply end when the body dies, what is there to fear in that? Not that it is true, but if it was, so what? You end, it’s over, no more pains, no more worries. It is not something we have any control over so fearing it and worrying about it is useless.

We have people who spend a great deal of money searching for ways to extend their physical life by a few years. Why? If you believe that physical life is the only life, you except that you life will end. Spending much of the limited time you have searching for ways to extend your time here is just wasting what time you do have.

Fear of Hell

If we fear death because we fear going to hell, that is actually a reasonable fear. But it is a fear that can be overcome by doing what is necessary to prevent that from happening. Knowing what that is can be confusing.
There are many churches and religions teaching many different things about hell and how to avoid it. Our own soul knows the truth. We need to trust our intuition. We also need to awaken our souls. Only a fully awakened conscious soul can alleviate our fear of going to hell. The awakened soul knows exactly what must be done to avoid that fate. The awakened soul doesn’t fear hell and it doesn’t have death fear.

Birth and Death

I don’t think we can say that birth and death are not real. They are unreal for the spirit and soul, but very real for the physical body. Of course, if you think of the body as pure illusion that doesn’t matter, then we can say that birth and death don’t exist. But matter is not imaginary. It is real, but not what it appears to be. While it can be argued that matter doesn’t cease to exist, it simply changes form, that is death as far as that form is concerned. Unless that form is human and has gone to the trouble of uniting with its permanent spiritual self thereby becoming immortal. Such a united being has no death fear.


In short, fear of death really becomes fear of life. By operating from a level of fear, and avoiding things that might result in death, you never really live. Even if life is temporary, and the afterlife is a fantasy, that is even more reason to live life while we can. In reality, life is permanent and the physical stage of it is just the beginning. The spirit and soul are immortal. The catch is, you experience that immortality only if you unite your physical, mental and spiritual self while still alive on the physical plane.

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Rise Above the Material Now, Before Death

“The gloom and depression of the Lesser Mysteries represented the agony of the spiritual soul unable to express itself because it has accepted the limitations and illusions of the human environment. The crux of the Eleusinian argument was that man is neither better nor wiser after death than during life. If he does not rise above ignorance during his sojourn here, man goes at death into eternity to wander about forever, making the same mistakes which he made here. If he does not outgrow his desire for material possessions here he will carry it into the invisible world, where,because he can never gratify the desire, he will continue in endless agony. … Those who made no endeavor to improve themselves (whose souls have slept) during their physical lives, passed at death into Hades.” ~Manly P. Hall

Lesser Mysteries

I have noticed recently that many members of spiritual groups on social media either say they are depressed, or ask if depression is a normal part of spiritual awakening. The answer, of course, is “sometimes.” People who have become very attached to matter and to the illusions of the material world are likely to suffer this depression when they began to awaken to the truth. But Don’t assume that everyone is in the same boat. We are not all the same and our starting point on the path of spiritual enlightenment varies.

In times long past, the “lesser mysteries” often included an initiation that had the initiate suffering greatly. He may have been taken from his family and abandoned in a wilderness area. He may have been physically or mentally tortured. While this is probably unnecessary, it has a point. It makes the initiate realize that the world of matter is the world of misery. But one can be happy here, if we don’t get too attached to the things of this world.

Now and Later

Some people believe that no matter what they do while alive in material form, they will be saved, angelic, and enlightened when they leave this realm are are spirit only. The quote says this is nonsense, and correctly so. Like it says in the Bible, you reap what you sow. You don’t get a college degree just by spending a night on a college campus. Not even if it is an Ivy-league university. You have to actually attend classes and learn. Likewise, you don’t get spiritual wisdom just by dying. If so, there would be no need for spiritual schools or prophets.

Rise Above Ignorance

If you spend your physical life in ignorance, you will remain ignorant after you die. When you lack love and peace in this life, you won’t suddenly get it by dying. If you are obsessed with owning things, you will still be obsessed in the spiritual realm. In that realm, there is no hope of ever gaining material things. That is why the wise teachers and prophets have always told us we must change now, in this world, to get ready for the next. Otherwise, it’s like moving to a new country where they speak a different language, and you haven’t learned a word of that language.

Wander Forever

Hall says that if we don’t rise above, but leave this world and enter the next in complete ignorance, we will be doomed to wander aimlessly forever. That isn’t exactly true, though true enough. We will be doomed to be reborn in a non-human form, probably an animal. When that life is over, we will do it again and again. It may take thousands of Earth years for the process to end. Then our soul can be recharged and we can be given another chance at a life as a human. This is not really reincarnation because that soul we failed to make use of will not remember you. So rise above now, while you can. If you wait until you are physically dead, it will be too late.