The Practice of Giving
The Thai Buddhist monk Ajahn Suwat, while teaching a meditation retreat in America, asked Ajahn Geoff (Thanissaro), “Why do the students seem so unhappy? They’re meditating. They’re here. But they seem so grim and not at all like they’re enjoying themselves.” After thinking about it, Ajahn Geoff said, “They know how to meditate, but not how to practice dana.” The ancient word Dana is translated as giving, generosity, sharing. It lies in the heart of the Buddhist tradition, together with Sila (morality) and Bhavana (meditation). One cannot happen without the other, like the sustaining lines of a perfect triangle.
Looking to help others is a direct change of focal point from the constant ongoings of me, mine and myself. Over the years we have hosted and treated thousands of people at Plantation Villa. They come looking for simple things, such as a nice holiday, up to more serious help such as a natural way to deal with cancer. We use a carefully established combination of Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, Nutrition, Nature, and Community, to restore and maintain wellbeing. But at what point do these references meet? They all intersect at the point of reduction of selfishness. They are, on our understanding, paths of renunciation.
Yoga and Buddhist meditations are a renunciation of the constant agitation; the attachment to self views, memories, daydreams, emotional disturbances. Ayurveda was traditionally the way to maintain health, so that a virtuous (dharma) life can be lead. Nature, in its raw, unpolished form, shows that perfection and straight lines are a utopia. Furthermore, inside the jungle, you can be a king or a peasant, but it does not make much difference. Community is the sacrifice of selfish ideals for a common benefit.
But still… The message that is out there is to always make things greater. How can I maximise happiness?
What about how to make things less heavier?