Giving & making the mind pleasant

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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