Giving & making the mind pleasant

Precisely!!! :smile:

Anyway, thanks for provoking some gladness in these quarters with your reflection.

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Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than myself can chime in and correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think the word “Arahant” is usually translated as meaning “worthy one”. Worthy of what? respect, veneration, gifts?

In chanting/recitation practice of the Thai forest tradition there are the ‘9 virtues of the sangha’:

supaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka sangho
ujupaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka sangho
ñāyapaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka sangho
samīcīpaṭipanno bhagavato sāvaka sangho
yadidaṃ cattari purisa yugāni attha purisa puggala
esa bhagavato sāvaka sangho
ahuneyyo pahuneyyo dakkhineyyo añjali-karaṇiyo
anuttaraṃ puñña-khettaṃ lokassa

.

of good conduct is the Blessed One’s order (of monastics)
of upright conduct is the Blessed One’s order
of wise conduct is the Blessed One’s order
of dutiful conduct is the Blessed One’s order
that is — the four pairs of persons, the eight individuals (4 stages of awakening, path and fruition of each)
this, is the Blessed One’s order (of disciples)
worthy of offerings, worthy of hospitality, worthy of gifts, worthy of veneration
an incomparable field of merits in the world

I think this expresses one sense of what worthiness is. Those who have developed to some stage of awakening, are most worthwhile to support in every way. If the monastic sangha, and even moreso the ariya sangha were unsupported what would happen to the Buddha sāsana?

I must say I’ve also experienced some hesitation towards what sometimes seems to be saying “step over and push out of the way drug-addict beggars, insane beggars, or the otherwise needy in a desparate rush to give to the ariya sangha”. To reiterate what I said earlier, I think that in terms of conditioning the mind and providing positive feedback to the development of virtue it is much more beneficial to give in person to the virtuous (or at least those who seem virtuous). I would think a person conditioned by the joy in such an act would be more likely to give to those less virtuous and in general be a better person. In other words, giving to the virtous is a more powerful mental conditioner.

So we have the Buddha in different places sometimes saying it’s about the giving intention; and sometimes saying it’s about supporting the highest ideal of practice, the ariya sangha. Perhaps there is no conflict between the two. That among recipients, the most karmically fruitful to give to are the ariya sangha; and that among the intentions for giving, that the purest is to beautify and adorn the mind (“bling” for the mind so to speak).

I think @Suravira 's insight is correct in saying that in this sutta it’s more about the internal intention behind giving. Don’t worry so much about who is truly worthy that you neglect the internal quality of your mind.

Isn’t that exactly what charity towards those developed (or developing) further along the path than oneself is all about? As an external expression of that same goal within oneself?

Btw, @Gabriel has done an excellent job collecting sutta references towards the various conditions for the arising of pāmojja:
pāmojja leading to samādhi

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Much thanks for the reflection Matt.

Agreed! But that was never in question. The trouble at hand is that those of us with a defiled mind have no way of recognising who has made the breakthrough, and those is earnestly committed to doing so if they haven’t yet. The matter (fundamentally anchored to the initially referenced sutta) doesn’t concern whether or not it is worth giving to ‘worthy’ ones (that is assumed), but rather how a person can know they they are giving to such an individual when 1) they are perpetually drunk on their own mental disturbances and 2) the are those who wear robes and practice in a bad way (recognised as existing in the Buddha’s time, and I don’t think the picture has got any better since).

Right up to the bracketed note, again we’re in full agreement. However, once the bracketed caveat is introduced the I think its power for cultivating wholesome mental qualities can be significantly diminished and even tip over to being a negative force if doubts start to brew over the virtue of the recipient (this point is entirely mitigated if we say what we are giving to is the principle of virtue as merely represented by the robe-wearer and the actual virtue of the recipient is the recipient’s own concern).

I don’t believe there’s any conflict at all between these two things, but rather that they are entirely complementary. So far as I recall from the relevant suttas I’ve come across (in fact, I think it’s also in the one you linked above) the highest intention for giving is to brighten the mind. The Kd8 text clearly links giving to the awakened ones and gladdening the mind.

Again, there’s really at the heart of the question, if the Buddha is saying it’s about the ideal of practice, wonderful, the issue is completely resolved. But, as I read it, it kinda looks like he’s saying it is the actual, specific people who have awoken, or are on the straight and narrow towards awakening through which the mental benefits come about. It is in this respect that room for doubt arises as, well… who knows about this person or that?

:laughing: :laughing: :joy:

That’s an image I’m not going to be able to get out of my mind anytime soon. I’m not 100% that’s the best way to brighten my mind. Although… it is very shiny. Maybe it’ll work. :grinning:

Quite so. Very much! However, in no way to negate the point, this inquiry has come out of trying to understand and make relevant a teaching given by the canonical Buddha. It is the text itself (and there are others) that highlight the legitimacy of the question of how to know (to have trust, to have stable grounds from which gladness can spring) that one is giving to (and relatedly, taking instruction from) one who is worthy.

By my thus far understanding of the texts, I’d say, yes - see the post above re the Kd8 text where a similar conclusion is drawn.

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Ahhh ok, due to my own defilements I couldn’t grasp what the question even was, haha. :worried:

Yea, that’s a good question in general. I think it would take a long time observing a suspected awakened one’s behavior for any clue of lust or ill-will/anger. Maybe even testing them by trying to make them angry. Personally, one of my favorite monks nearby is one who I’ve never seen get angry when there have been plenty of situations that would’ve driven others to some degree of frustration.

There’s got to be a sutta about how to assess the qualities of a good monastic, no?

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:laughing: Brilliant! Hilarious as it is, I’m pretty sure such a plan would stray a little from the intention of safeguarding my own mind.

I think MN47 is the most comprehensive thing I’ve come across, although it’s method is not just for assessing a monastic, but a Tathāgata! It would also cover an arahant and probably stretch to someone who’s made the breakthrough.

However, here our ‘threshold’ is just someone who is rightly intent on the goal and so when eg. in step 1 the recommendation is to check for defiled states that can be detected by eye and ear, I think uncertainty arises again as defilement appearing in one who has not uprooted greed, hatred and delusion is basically a given, but by no means should be taken as an indicator of insincere practice. I truly love how making mistakes is incorporated in the teaching, and how it’s only the most coarse behaviour that will actually get a person kicked out of the order - it is after all a training.

Oh and by the way, as stated we have to do all of our assessing work through the fog of our own delusion… can we be certain that we observed questionable behaviour rather than projected questionable behaviour?

Saying all that, I do think you’re suggestion of checking for signs of lust and ill-will/anger is quite right (and also totally inline with MN47) and the only practical method available.

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'Master Gotama, I have heard that ‘Gotama the contemplative says this: "Only to me should a gift be given, and not to others.’

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.057.than.html

Five seasonable gifts:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.036.than.html

Different intentions (of giving)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an07/an07.049.than.html

Also Dana is often given to the entire community of monks, including the enlightened and partially enlightened beings. So it is not necessary to know each individual one’s attainments :blush:.

With metta

Matheesha

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Many thanks for MN47, exactly the kind of sutta I was looking for!

There is still some sensuality-desire and ill-will in even a sotāpanna… makes it kind of difficult. At the same time, the degree of such has got to be so drastically reduced from that of an ordinary being.

Very good point. Some chān/zen masters, and Buddhist masters in general, have been said to show the outward signs of harshness while obviously not having that internal quality. I’ve heard there’s an Ajahn Brahm story where he was massaging Ajahn Chah’s feet and observed him speaking harshly but there was no accompanying tension in the body to indicate any sort of negative mind-state.

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Thank you so much for your post Matheesha! AN3.57 really has put a massive grin on my face and brings me such happiness.

As for the point about the entire community of monks (and nuns), I guess the question wasn’t really so much oriented to knowing who was worthy (and certainly not who is attained to what), but rather towards the issue of the simple fact that ‘unworthy’ behaviour is a part of picture, too, and it is not a source of joy.

Nevertheless, your comment speaks very much to what I was trying to get at with the idea of a specific recipient being symbolic, or representative, but your particular phrasing really works to resolve this for me and bridges the ‘giving to the ideal’ and the ‘giving to actual people’ ideas.

Again, much thanks to you. :slight_smile:

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Hi Aminah,

Even with individuals it is up to us to choose what we focus on in them : we can choose to focus on their wholesome qualities; then our minds will reflect that. Or if we dwell on negative qualities our minds will reflect that. Hence we have a choice in how we guard our minds. By this I don’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of unwholesome qualities in others, rather it is about having better control in our response to it.
:heart:
With metta

Matheesha

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Oooh, it reminds me of one of my favourites (although be warned, I have a lot of favourites :grinning:): AN5.162
Once more, my thanks.

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@Aminah
AN5.162 is one of my favorites too. I’ve always found the similes in it to be very powerful.

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AN4.57 (edit: and AN4.78) occurred to me as a nice, little corroborative footnote to the above discussion.

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Yes, indeed. That is very straightforward about the benefits. And I love the phrase “that offering, which links merit with merit.”

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That I run into these texts entirely by coincidence is starting to seem like not the most credible proposition, but there it is all the same! :grinning:

As an aside, AN6.37 also serves as a good footnote to the above exploration, however, I actually came to present a bonus questions arising in connection to AN7.52:

With reference to AN7.52 (as per Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation), what’s the difference between on the one hand making the mind serene and generating gratification and joy, and on the other making an ornament and support for the mind?

The uncertainty comes for me particularly in relation to the sutta that initiated this thread (AN6.59) in which the Buddha encourages a householder to give so as to make his mind pleasant and the Kd8 text which has the Buddha approving of Visakha’s explanation that as a result of giving her gifts:

On my calling [the fact that I’ve given to monks who at minimum attained stream-entry] to mind, delight will be born; from delight, joy will be born; because my mind is joyful my body will be calm; with the body calm I will experience ease; because I am at ease my mind will be contemplative; this will be for me growth as to the sense-organs, growth as to the powers, growth as to the factors of enlightenment.

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The way I make sense is that for one who the development of the path is already advanced - i.e. and at least the big picture implications of the four noble truths and its enobbling tasks has already been realized at heart- just the recollection of the power of relinquishment present in the act of giving itself is enough to “throw” him up to such sublime levels of experience. The realisation already present at that heart is what “dooms” it to the fruition of cessation at that sublime state later on.

Nice, yes, that all seems fine enough to me, thanks. At the same time, I had a bit more of a humdrum question regarding the distinction between a serene mind & joy and a mind ornament & support. Up until coming across AN7.52 I would have thought that joy and a serene mind were ornaments/supports.

EDIT:

Having re-posed the question here, I now wonder if the difference is the intended purpose, ie. if joy and a serene mind are taken as an end in themselves then the benefit is not so great.

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I think you may be right, Aminah. It’s not something I really considered before, but now that you mention it makes a lot of sense.

As a quick sidenote: the Bhagavad Gītā really stresses not being attached to the results of actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some Buddhist influence there.

Reflecting on what you said, an ornament/jewelry is meant to increase attraction and a support in itself is empty. The ornament attracts good/positive qualities and a support gives some basis for the good/positive qualities to be upheld.

If I may make a suggestion, you’ve really been digging on this dāna topic… do you think a wiki or an essay should be forthcoming? Would be great to have a dāna resource, it’s one of the more overlooked parts of the Dhamma imo.

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Hmmm… a resource: will the above thread do? :grinning: I was, indeed, mostly motivated to insert the additional sutta references in case anyone interested wanted more material to explore the matter.

To my mind it is a massively important topic and I, likewise, would be delighted to see it (and sīla more generally) receive a little greater and a little more meticulous attention. However, as for developing a more coherent dāna presentation, it depends who exactly you think should make such a thing come forth! :grin:

For me, I feel a bit mixed: as a reflective exercise it sounds great, as a contained resource I’m a bit uncertain - I think I go a little more towards open ended exploration (fairly suited to the thread form).

I guess we’ll see what the winds think about the idea. :relaxed:

:wave:

Haven’t read past this, so apologies for reviving an old topic, but IMO

cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility

There’s a complimentary economics paper from Carnegie Mellon University I stumbled into from an article link on Reddit.com that’s basically saying that modern day marketing manipulates the internal utility functions of individuals for profit.

Can’t cite the paper though. :unamused:

Dangerous world we live in.

Anywho, I’ve got 25 minutes left on this gaming device so I’ll hope the “Mauryans” can go ahead and sweep things up around here.

If you look at Visakha’s explanation of the results of her giving, it’s actually the same sequence as in AN 11.2; i.e. ethical behavior -> non-regret -> samadhi -> liberation.

This is also how I understand the serene & joyous mind intention for giving: it’s giving with the understanding that you are creating the cause for right samadhi.

Basically, the happiness and joy from giving can be recalled and used in meditation to make it go deep, and understanding this seems to extra good :slight_smile:

Getting at the best intention, the support and ornament for the mind, it makes sense to me that someone who has much experience with deep meditation, would understand in a very deep sense the effects of giving on the mind.

I.e. a support and ornament in a very literal sense, like how Ajahn Brahm talks about virtue and how it affects the brightness/color of the nimitta. This is just speculation on my part though :slight_smile:

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