Quoted from Mangala Sutta
To be generous in giving, to be righteous in conduct, to help one’s relatives, and to be blameless in action — this is the greatest blessing.
In this stanza, Buddha taught that generosity in giving is the highest blessings. Through giving, we gain merits and are assured of future happiness. Good begets good
Besides the action of giving, one also needs to understand the art of giving.
Foremost is our mentality. Giving has to be done with a right motivation of wanting to help others. (Without any selfish motive) Such giving is genuine and meritorious.
On the other hand, giving with an expectation of receiving praise or recognition, or getting some form of repayment is bad. Even the intention to gain good karma will “contaminate” this virtuous deed. This is because the giving is not genuinely to benefit others. However, this does not mean we should forgo the practice of giving. It simply means we need to perfect our action and thoughts. Practice makes perfect. While we are not perfected yet, our giving will still score points, maybe not a full score. But that is better than nothing!
The items that we give should not be harmful to others. Thus, a strict Buddhist will refrain from giving bottle of wine to others because it causes intoxication.
There are many things that we can give. One of my favourite deeds is to give protection. I notice snails would always come out on rainy days to cross the walkway. I enjoy helping them cross over. That is to prevent them from getting crushed by pedestrian.
We can also give service by volunteering and that includes volunteering at home to help with the chores too. There are many things and deeds that we can give.
Righteousness in conduct means maintaining good action, speech and thoughts. Here’s the list of 10
3 precepts in relation to actions
- I will not kill or harm any living beings
- I will not take anything that is not given to me
- I will not have sexual misconduct
4 precepts in relation to speech
- I will not lie
- I will not speak carelessly or engage in idle speech
- I will not speak abusively or harshly
- I will not speak to cause discord or disharmony
3 precepts in relation to mind
- I will not have thoughts of greed (Greed)
- I will not have thoughts of ill-will (Hatred)
- I will not hold false views (Ignorance)
To be blameless in actions should be seen under the light of Buddha Dharma. The important thing to note, is that we are our own judge. Are we selfless enough? Loving? Kind hearted? Good natured? Compassionate? We know the best. As we practice, our actions, speeches and thoughts will refine themselves (if we are on he right path). Unlike other religion, Buddha does not play the role of a judge meting out punishment and rewards. It is all about Karma and it’s result.
Last but not least, being able to
- give generously
- engage in righteous conduct,
- help one’s relatives,
- be blameless in action — this is the greatest blessing.
We mustn’t presume that all these actions comes easily.
There are many people who cannot do the aforesaid because of the situation that they are in.
So while we have the ability to engage in such meritorious deeds, we should not hesitate in doing them. This is because they will lead to a better future for us.