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The Causes and Conditions of Seven Forms of Giving

The Sutra of Miscellaneous Precious Deposits

(Saṃyukta-ratna-piṭaka-sūtra), Vol. 6

 

   According to the Buddha, there are seven kinds of giving that will lead to extensive and positive karmic retributions in our future lives at no financial cost.

  1. Giving visual generosity. We should always look at our parents, teachers, elders, monastics, and lay practitioners with gentleness and respect rather than with contempt. This is regarded as an act of giving visual generosity. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will obtain eyes of purity in our future rebirth and will obtain the divine eye and the buddha eye when we become buddhas. This is the first karmic effect of giving.
  2. Giving a pleasant countenance. We should not frown at or loathe our parents, teachers, elders, monastics, and lay practitioners on sight. Instead, we should be gracious toward them. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will have good appearances in our future rebirths and will have a pure golden complexion when we become buddhas. This is the second karmic effect of giving. 
  3. Giving verbal kindness. All the words that we speak should be spoken gently and softly, and we should not direct harsh or evil words to our parents, teachers, elders, monastics, and lay practitioners. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will be eloquent and fluent, with a command of the language, in our future rebirths, and what we will say will be easily accepted and trusted by most people. When we become buddhas in the future, we will obtain the four abilities of unhindered articulation. This is the third karmic effect of giving.
  4. Giving deferential respect. We should show deferential respect toward our parents, teachers, elders, monastics, and lay practitioners by greeting them with joined palms, a bow, or prostration. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will have a tall build with a decent appearance and will be revered and liked by everyone in our future lives. We will be tall in stature, like the apex of the nigrodha tree, with nobody surpassing us, when we become buddhas in the future. This is the fourth karmic effect of giving.
  5. Giving our generous heart (mind). If we perform the foregoing acts of giving without utmost sincerity and without the pure intention of showing respect to others, such acts will not be deemed tantamount to true giving. On the contrary, performing them with a sincere heart and with utmost dedication without anticipating a return or benefit is deemed tantamount to giving our generous heart. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will obtain a clear mind full of wisdom and devoid of ignorance, foolishness, or insanity in our future lives. When we become buddhas in the future, we will also obtain knowledge of all aspects (S: sarvākārajñatā). This is the fifth karmic effect of giving.
  6. Offering our seats. Giving up our seats for our parents, teachers, elders, monastics, and lay practitioners for their comfort will enhance our awareness of our moral duties and responsibilities and will help us develop a selfless attitude. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will gain a dignified and precious seat adorned with seven kinds of jewels in our future lives. When we become buddhas in the future, we will have the dharma seat of the lion (an epithet of the Buddha). This is the sixth karmic effect of giving.
  7. Giving shelter. Offering our home to our parents, teachers, elders, monastics, and lay practitioners for shelter is a special way of honoring them. Giving shelter means allowing them to live with dignity in the comfort and safety of our own home while ensuring that their needs, such as sitting, standing, walking around, or lying down with ease, are met. The retributive effect of doing this is that we will gain a natural palace or residence in our future rebirth. When we become buddhas in the future, we will abide by myriad meditative concentrations and countless samādhi virtues with regard to our residential state. This is the seventh karmic effect of giving.

Remark:

The foregoing are the seven forms of giving that will lead us to the wonderful ripening of the karmic effect in our future lives at no monetary cost. Wouldn’t we be glad to give in all these ways?


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