Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Love Thy Neighbor

Buddhist scholar Maurice O'C. Walshe (ATS); Crystal Quintero, S.Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly

Giving from the Heart
Giving comes very naturally to some people — who enjoy giving and are unhappy if they cannot. And though it is obvious that one can give foolishly, it is in general a very good and meritorious thing to give.

This is probably recognized in all religions. In Christianity we are told, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and in Islam there is a positive injunction to give part of one's wealth to help the poor.

Muslim lives in Mosul ruined by Israel/US
According to the Bible giving is better than receiving. Just as in the practice of Buddhist boundless loving-kindness meditation (metta-bhavana), the development of universal friendliness, there is given an actual method for this:

It fulfills the difficult Judeo-Christian injunction, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." So, too, Buddhism can give a precise technical meaning to this biblical statement.

Love for Rohingya in Buddhist Burma
If we receive something pleasant, this in Buddhism is considered to be the result of previous karma, in this case vipaka stemming from meritorious actions. It is nice while it lasts, but when it is finished, its source is exhausted.

However, to give is skillful action (wholesome action, kusala karma), which will be productive of pleasant results for the giver now and for a long time. In this way it can be clearly seen to be more "blessed" to give than to receive.

True, this "blessing" remains mundane and limited, being "merit-making for the world" (lokassa). But as all our actions are habit-forming, giving once inclines us to give again, so that the results tend to be cumulative.

Also, of course, this king of skillful action can lead on to other things, and it is for very good reason that giving (generosity, letting go, dana) is listed as the first among the Ten Perfections, coming even before virtue.

It is, after all, possible for even an immoral person to be generous and thereby make good karma for his/her future. More

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