Saw this, riding by on my bike on way to meet Phil Anson of Phil’s Fresh, now Evol Burritos, at Salt yesterday. Circled back. Took photos, with generous permission of friendly homeless gentleman. Gave hard-earned dollar by way of thanks for their humor and creativity, and providing me with opportunity to
1) slow down, if only for a moment, and
2) cease my stingy, self-centered ways, if only for a moment.
Money is a simple situation that represents life, strength and lineage or heritage of all kinds. It is very simple and very direct. The three principles – practice, money and learning – actually work with each other and all three of them are very important. People in the past have worked on those same three things. Our community is growing by being squeezed…although our funds are tight, our vision is enormous. That is the way we behave; and that combination works very brilliantly and very beautifully.
~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Famous Last Words” Karme Dzong Boulder 24 January 1977
Generosity is very important in Buddhism. In Sanskrit there is a word, dana, which at its Indo-European root is related to “donation.” Dana is generosity, or giving in. Dana is also connected with devotion and the appreciation of sacredness. Sacredness is not purely a religious concept alone, but it is an expression of general openness – how to be open, how to kiss somebody, how to express the emotion of giving. You are giving yourself, not just a gift alone. So real generosity comes from developing a general sense of kindness…”
We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense
of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness, and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain — although what we gain should not
particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more
we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens
naturally, automatically, always.
~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving Kindness, available through Shambhala Publications
On the whole we should regard money as mother’s milk: it nourishes us and it nourishes others. That should be our attitude to money. It’s not just a bank coupon that we have in our wallet. Each dollar contains a lot of past; many people worked for that particular one dollar, one cent. They worked so hard, with their sweat and tears. So it’s like mother’s milk. But at the same time, mother’s milk can be given away and we can produce more mother’s milk. So I wouldn’t hang on to it too tightly.
When I’m dressing, sometimes my friend, Mr. P., says to me, “You can’t wear that shirt for the fourth time,” I say, “Of course I can.” I’ve worn a single shirt many times, and it has looked fine. That’s what we call merit. Merit means that somebody deserves that kind of manifestation. A person doesn’t have to be extravagant in order to manifest wealth, but he or she does have to have some karmic sense of basic sanity, worthwhileness…We tend to borrow the concepts of how people have made money in the past. Obviously, we are born naturally rich, but at the same time, from a Buddhist point of view, we have forgotten the merit involved, the fact that we are glowing as we are, wearing our shirt for the eighth time!
The idea of giving is not exactly the idea that you have so much to give and therefore, you should give or, for that matter, the idea that you have so little to give and therefore you should give whatever precious thing you have. But it is giving in the sense of a general feeling of being willing to part with any precious things that exist, anything you want to hold onto. Giving is trying to part with that kind of thing. So the basic idea of generosity, or the paramita of generosity, is learning how to part with the things that you have.
~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, unpublished transcript, unknown source
The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign that we are holding on to something – usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy; we hold on tight. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering whatever we can – a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement – we are training in letting go.