I believe whole-heartedly in generosity. (So much so that it’s one of my main intentions for this year.) In Pali, the name for this is dana.
Whether in my daily interactions, or in my work, I aim to give generously, without expecting reciprocity. I reject capitalism’s assertion that my worth is, or should be equated with, my productivity or my income.
I choose to give because I enjoy the practice of being generous. Truly, I enjoy the process of giving.
In Buddhist tradition, teachings are viewed as priceless; there is no price tag. In exchange for , students offer dana, which translated from the Pali roughly equates to “generosity.” Rather than a transactional model which might commodify teachings, teachings are offered freely, and students offer donation.
Dana supports the teachings in a free exchange – and it asks us to examine our relationship to money, abundance, and scarcity.
Dana requires that we find a balance. It asks us to give enough that we feel generous in our support for those who have supported us. But not so much that we cause harm to ourselves by giving away more than we can afford.
This form of generosity is deeply personal.
It is up to the individual to discern what generosity means to them.
Dana can happen in many ways: financially, through service, and through the practice itself. We may, as practitioners, generously offer the benefits of our practice outward, dedicating our merits so that all beings may benefit.
In this spirit, I am beginning to experiment with some dana-based models in my work.
I do this for three reasons:
To honor the teachings: I believe that while the teachings are priceless, making a gesture of devotion has the capacity to deepen our relationship to practice.
To support myself: I *love* to give abundantly. Recently, I have also recognized the need to fill my own cup so that I may have a reliable source in order to fill yours as well.
To serve you more deeply: I am excited to take my teachings to new places this year. The dana offered allows me to deepen my studentship and expand my capacity as a teacher.
It has always been a part of my business model to give generously. From the free self-care resource garden (with a dozen – and growing! – free downloads), to my free workshops, to my frequent blog writings – I create as much content as I can for absolutely free. I believe in giving away as much as I can.
But what happens when I pour endlessly from my own cup without refilling it? Nothing good.
There is no fault. Only the reality that I am, in fact, supporting myself through the work you see here. And in order to continue to give generously, I need to feel a sense of balance.
Lately, the balance has felt off. I want to spend less time selling and more time creating, more time with my family, more time in my own studentship. Again, there is no blame. Only an opportunity:
Dana is viewed in Buddhist teaching as a gift to both teacher and student. Many dharma teachers rely *solely* on dana or other donations. That is their livelihood. This model supports them so that they may continue to offer their teachings freely, without funny sales tactics or feelings of misalignment.
But dana is also a gift to the student.
It offers them the opportunity to experience the practice of being generous, which is seen as essential to spiritual growth. Dana is simply an extension of what happens on the cushion, allowing those lessons to make their way into daily life. Because what is practice, if not training for daily life?
Now, this is an experiment. But I’m hoping you’ll come along for the journey.
I bow to you in humble thanks for your support.
* Moments of Wonder is a series of mini-blogs where I share bite-sized personal reflections – not as advice, mentorship or counsel, but on how the themes I cover here are reflected in my own life.