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New Buddhist - Questions

Hello all and thanks in advance for your help. I am a new Buddhist and I have two questions, please:

  1. I thought I read a Sutta where the Buddha tells someone it is fine to give dana to people of other spiritual beliefs. Can someone give me the citation?

  2. It is my understanding that , in Buddhism, one’s rebirth depends on one’s kamma, not on whether or not one “believes in” Buddhism/The Dhamma. Is this correct?

These questions are only for my own edification - I insinuate no disrespect regarding other people’s beliefs. Also, if these points have already been addressed elsewhere on this forum, I apologize for the repetition.

Again, many thanks for your help!

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Hi Har, and welcome to the Forum!

AN8.12
Let the Blessed One accept me as a lay follower who from today has gone for refuge for life.”

“Sīha, your family has long been a fountain of support for the Nigaṇṭhas; hence you should consider continuing to give alms to them when they approach you.”

“Bhante, I am even more satisfied and pleased with the Blessed One for telling me: ‘Sīha, your family has long been a fountain of support for the Nigaṇṭhas; hence you should consider continuing to give alms to them when they approach you.’ For I have heard: ‘The ascetic Gotama says thus: “Alms should be given only to me, not to others; alms should be given only to my disciples, not to the disciples of others. Only what is given to me is very fruitful, not what is given to others; only what is given to my disciples is very fruitful, not what is given to the disciples of others.”’ Yet the Blessed One encourages me to give to the Nigaṇṭhas, too. We’ll know the right time for this. So for the third time, Bhante, I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Let the Blessed One accept me as a lay follower who from today has gone for refuge for life.”

Short Answer : Yes

Long Answer: The Dhamma is always evident, whether a Buddha arises or not. There are in fact, three divine messengers who are sent to all of us, regardless of faith/ culture… the problem is we ignore them and continue in our set ways! Practice of the Buddha’s recommended path of morality, Meditation/Inquiry and Wisdom guarantees a good outcome, regardless of other beliefs. One doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to be a decent human being or to go to heaven. :smiley:

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Wow, thank you so much for the speedy and helpful reply! I sincerely appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

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Hello, HAR! :wave:

Hope you have fun on the forum here.

AN3.57:0.1: Numbered Discourses 3 6. Brahmins 57. With Vacchagotta
AN3.57:1.1: Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha: “I have heard, Master Gotama, that the ascetic Gotama says this: ‘Gifts should only be given to me, not to others. Gifts should only be given to my disciples, not to the disciples of others. Only what is given to me is very fruitful, not what is given to others. Only what is given to my disciples is very fruitful, not what is given to the disciples of others.’ I trust that those who say this repeat what the Buddha has said, and do not misrepresent him with an untruth? Is their explanation in line with the teaching? Are there any legitimate grounds for rebuke and criticism? For we don’t want to misrepresent Master Gotama.”
AN3.57:2.1: “Vaccha, those who say this do not repeat what I have said. They misrepresent me with what is false and untrue. Anyone who prevents another from giving makes an obstacle and a barrier for three people. What three? The giver is obstructed from making merit. The receiver is obstructed from getting what is offered. And they’ve already broken and damaged themselves. Anyone who prevents another from giving makes an obstacle and a barrier for these three people.
AN3.57:3.1: Vaccha, this is what I say: ‘You even make merit by tipping out dish-washing water in a cesspool or a sump with living creatures in it, thinking, “May any creatures here be nourished!”’ How much more then for human beings! However, I also say that a gift to an ethical person is more fruitful than one to an unethical person. They’ve given up five factors, and possess five factors.
AN3.57:4.1: What are the five factors they’ve given up? Sensual desire, ill will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse, and doubt. These are the five factors they’ve given up.
AN3.57:5.1: What are the five factors they possess? The entire spectrum of an adept’s ethics, immersion, wisdom, freedom, and knowledge and vision of freedom. These are the five factors they possess. I say that a gift to anyone who has given up these five factors and possesses these five factors is very fruitful.

A similar story is also found on the householder Upāli in MN 56.

The Buddha never asks anyone to “believe” in him, but what is called “right view” does certainly help, and wrong views are criticized by the Buddha on various occasions.

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Yes, but to avoid further suffering those starting on the path should quickly consolidate their knowledge of kamma as it is the first form of right view, in particular being aware that thoughts have results, often in this lifetime. This involves an understanding that the world works not only on the rudimentary rule of material acquisition, but on the indirect law that thoughts and actions have a definite and impersonal outcome sometime in the future. Thus mentally responding to events guided by dhamma is the means of assuring coming well being.

Mundane Right View

"Mundane right view involves a correct grasp of the law of kamma, the moral efficacy of action. Its literal name is “right view of the ownership of action” (kammassakata sammaditthi), and it finds its standard formulation in the statement: “Beings are the owners of their actions, the heirs of their actions; they spring from their actions, are bound to their actions, and are supported by their actions. Whatever deeds they do, good or bad, of those they shall be heirs.”[5] More specific formulations have also come down in the texts. One stock passage, for example, affirms that virtuous actions such as giving and offering alms have moral significance, that good and bad deeds produce corresponding fruits, that one has a duty to serve mother and father, that there is rebirth and a world beyond the visible one, and that religious teachers of high attainment can be found who expound the truth about the world on the basis of their own superior realization.[6]

To understand the implications of this form of right view we first have to examine the meaning of its key term, kamma. The word kamma means action. For Buddhism the relevant kind of action is volitional action, deeds expressive of morally determinate volition, since it is volition that gives the action ethical significance. Thus the Buddha expressly identifies action with volition. In a discourse on the analysis of kamma he says: “Monks, it is volition that I call action (kamma). Having willed, one performs an action through body, speech, or mind.”[7] The identification of kamma with volition makes kamma essentially a mental event, a factor originating in the mind which seeks to actualize the mind’s drives, dispositions, and purposes. Volition comes into being through any of three channels — body, speech, or mind — called the three doors of action (kammadvara). A volition expressed through the body is a bodily action; a volition expressed through speech is a verbal action; and a volition that issues in thoughts, plans, ideas, and other mental states without gaining outer expression is a mental action. Thus the one factor of volition differentiates into three types of kamma according to the channel through which it becomes manifest.

Right view requires more than a simple knowledge of the general meaning of kamma. It is also necessary to understand: (i) the ethical distinction of kamma into the unwholesome and the wholesome; (ii) the principal cases of each type; and (iii) the roots from which these actions spring. As expressed in a sutta: “When a noble disciple understands what is kammically unwholesome, and the root of unwholesome kamma, what is kammically wholesome, and the root of wholesome kamma, then he has right view.”[8]"—Bikkhu Bodhi

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Thank you so much all! Lots to learn. This is all very helpful.

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Kamma is often defined as something like intention, the motivation behind one’s thoughts, speech and action. Vipāka is the result or consequence of one’s action. Craving and grasping are what links one to rebirth. Generosity with the intention to benefit oneself and others inclines one towards a more favorable rebirth.

Thank you for this clarification. I appreciate it.