Offerings to the Sangha Sanghika Dana

Meditation Mastery Secrets

Meditation Mastery Secrets

Get Instant Access

The Buddha then explained to the Venerable Ananda: 'There are seven kinds of offerings made to the Sangha, Ananda.

- One makes an offering to a Sangha of both bhikkhus and bhikkhunIs headed by the Buddha; this is the first kind of offering made to the Sangha.

- One makes an offering to a Sangha of both bhikkhus and bhikkhunIs after the Buddha has attained Parinib-bana; this is the second kind of offering made to the Sangha.

- One makes an offering to a Sangha of bhikkhus; this is the third kind of offering made to the Sangha.

- One makes an offering to a Sangha of bhikk-hunIs; this is the fourth kind of offering made to the Sangha.

- One makes an offering, saying: "Appoint so many bhikkhus and bhikkhunIs to me from the Sangha"; this is the fifth kind of offering made to the Sangha.

- One makes an offering, saying: "Appoint so many bhikkhus to me from the Sangha"; this is the sixth kind of offering made to the Sangha.

- One makes an offering, saying: "Appoint so many bhikkhunIs to me from the Sangha"; this is the seventh kind of offering made to the Sangha.'

These are the seven types of offering to the Sangha. The Buddha then compared personal offerings to offerings to the Sangha:

'In future times, Ananda, there will be members of the clan who are "yellow-necks", immoral, of evil character. People will make offerings to those immoral persons on behalf of the Sangha. Even then, I say, an offering made to the Sangha is incalculable, immeasurable. And I say that in no way does an offering to a person individually, ever have greater fruit than an offering made to the Sangha.' This means that offerings made to the Sangha (sanghika-dana) are more beneficial than personal offerings (patipuggalika-dakkhina). If Mahapajapatigotaml offered the robes to the Sangha headed by the Buddha it would be far more beneficial. The result would be incalculable and immeasurable. So the Buddha urged her to offer them to the Sangha too.

The Buddha also explained the four kinds of purification of offering:

'There are four kinds of purification of offering. What are the four? They are:

1. There is the offering that is purified by the giver, but not the receiver.

2. There is the offering that is purified by the receiver, but not the giver.

3. There is the offering that is purified by neither the giver nor the receiver.

4. There is the offering that is purified by both the giver and the receiver.

(1) What is the offering that is purified by the giver, but not the receiver? Here the giver is virtuous, of good character, and the receiver is immoral, of evil character. Thus, the offering is purified by the giver, but not the receiver.

(2) What is the offering that is purified by the receiver, but not the giver? Here the giver is immoral, of evil character, and the receiver is virtuous, of good character. Thus, the offering is purified by the receiver, but not the giver.

(3) What is the offering that is purified by neither the giver nor the receiver? Here the giver is immoral, of evil character, and the receiver is immoral, of evil character. Thus, the offering is purified by neither the giver nor the receiver.

(4) What is the offering that is purified by both the giver and the receiver? Here the giver is virtuous, of good character, and the receiver is virtuous, of good character. Thus, the offering is purified by both the giver and the receiver. These are the four kinds of purification of offering.'

The Buddha explained further:

(1) An offering is purified by the giver's virtue, but not the receiver when:

(a) The giver is virtuous.

(b) What is offered has been righteously obtained.

(c) The giver has at the time of offering a clear and taintless mind. He should have no attachment, anger, etc.

(d) The giver has strong enough faith in that the fruit of that kamma is great, but the receiver is immoral. If the giver wants superior benefits, there should be these four factors. In this case, although the receiver is an immoral person, the offering is purified by the giver. The commentary mentions the case of Vessantara. Our bodhisatta in a past life as Vessantara, offered his son and daughter (the future Rahula and Uppalavanna) to Jujaka Brahmana, who was immoral, of evil character. That offering was the final generosity parami for Vessantara. After fulfilling this last parami, he was ready to attain enlightenment; he had only to wait for the time to mature. Because of this generosity parami, and other previous paramis, he was certain to attain Omniscient Knowledge (sabbannuta-nana). So we can say that this offering was a support for his attaining enlightenment. It was purified by Vessantara. At that time Vessantara was virtuous, of good character. What he offered was also rightly obtained. He had a clear and taintless mind because he had only one desire: to attain enlightenment. He had strong enough faith in the Law of Kamma and its results. So the offering was purified by the giver.

(2) An offering is purified by the receiver, when an immoral person, with an unclear mind full of attachment, hatred, etc., without faith in the Law of

Kamma, makes an offering of what is unrighteously obtained to a virtuous person. The commentary mentions the case of a fisherman. A fisherman living near the mouth of the Kalyani River in Sri Lanka, had three times offered almsfood to a Mahathera who was an arahant. At the time near death, the fisherman remembered his offering to that Mahathera. Good signs of a deva plane appeared in his mind, so before he died he said to his relatives, 'That Mahathera saved me.' After death he went to a deva plane. In this case the fisherman was immoral and of bad character, but the receiver was virtuous. So that offering was purified by the receiver.

(3) An offering is purified by neither the giver nor the receiver, when an immoral person, with an unclear mind full of attachment, hatred, etc., without faith in the Law of Kamma, makes an offering of what is unrighteously obtained to an immoral person. The commentary mentions the case of hunter. When that hunter died, he went to the peta realm. Then his wife offered almsfood on his behalf, to a bhikkhu who was immoral, of bad character; so the peta could not call out, 'It is right (sadhu)'. Why? The giver too was immoral, and not virtuous, because she, as the wife of a hunter, had accompanied him when he killed animals. Also, what she offered was unrighteously obtained, as it was acquired through killing animals. She had an unclear mind, because had she had a clear understanding mind, she would not have accompanied her husband. She did not have enough faith in the Law of Kamma and its results. Had she had enough faith in the Law of Kamma, she would never have killed living beings. Since the receiver too was immoral, of bad character, the offering could be purified by neither giver nor receiver. She offered almsfood in the same way three times, and no good result occured; so the peta shouted, 'An immoral person has three times stolen my wealth.' Then she offered almsfood to a virtuous bhikkhu. At that time the peta could call out 'It is good', and escape from the peta realm.

Here I would like to say to the audience; if you want good results from offering you should fulfil the following four factors:

(a) You must be virtuous,

(b) What you offer must be righteously obtained,

(c) You must have a clear and taintless mind,

(d) You must have strong enough faith in the Law of Kamma and its results.

Furthermore, if you are the receiver, and have strong enough loving-kindness and compassion for the giver, you should also be virtuous. If your virtue is accompanied by jhàna and insight-knowledge, it is much better. Why? This type of offering can produce good results for the giver. Please note the next type of offering, the fourth kind of purification of an offering.

(4) An offering is purified by both the giver and the receiver, when the giver has the four factors:

(b) What he offers is righteously obtained,

(c) His mind is clear and taintless,

(d) He has strong enough faith in the Law of Kamma and its results, and the receiver too is virtuous. As for this type of offering, the Buddha said: '.. .Ananda, I say, this type of offering will come to full fruition.' This offering can produce incalculable, immeasurable results. If the receiver's virtue is accompanied by jhana, insight-knowledge, or Path and Fruition Knowledges, then that virtue is superior.

Here I would like to relate another sutta. This is the Nandamata Sutta in the Anguttara Nikaya, Chakka Nipata. Once the Buddha was living near Savatthi, at Jetavana in Anathapindika's Park. Then Nanda's mother, a lay disciple of the Buddha, who lived in Velukandaka, offered almsfood. Her offering was endowed with six factors, and the receiver was the Bhikkhu Sangha, headed by the Venerable Sariputta and the Venerable Mahamoggallana. The Buddha saw the offering with his divine eye, and addressed the monks thus: 'Bhikkhus, the lay disciple of Velukandaka has prepared an offering endowed with six factors to the Sangha, headed by Sariputta and Mahamoggallana. How, bhikkhus, is an offering endowed with six factors? Bhikkhus, the giver should be endowed with three factors, and the receiver also should be endowed with three factors.

What are the giver's three factors? Bhikkhus,

- He is glad at heart before giving,

- His heart is satisfied in giving,

- He is joyful when he has given.

These are the three factors of the giver. What are the three factors of the receiver? Bhikkhus,

- The receiver is free from attachment or trying to destroy attachment,

- The receiver is free from anger or trying to destroy anger,

- The receiver is free from delusion or trying to destroy delusion.

These are the three factors of the receiver.'

Altogether there are six factors. If the offering is endowed with these six factors, it produces immeasurable and noble results.

The Buddha explained further: 'Bhikkhus, it is not easy to grasp the measure of merit of such an offering by saying: "This much is the yield in merit, the yield in goodliness, accumulated for wholesome kamma hereafter, ripening to happiness, leading to heaven, leading to happiness, longed for and loved." Verily the great mass of merit, wholesome kamma, is just reckoned unreckonable, immeasurable. Bhikkhus, just as it is not easy to grasp the measure of water in the great ocean, and to say: "There are so many pailfuls, so many hundreds of pailfuls, so many thousands of pailfuls, so many hundreds of thousands of pailfuls"; for that great mass of water is reckoned unreckonable, immeasurable; even so bhikkhus, it is not easy to grasp the measure of merit in an offering endowed with the six factors. Verily the great mass of merit is reckoned unreckonable, immeasurable.'

Why? The giver was endowed with the four factors of the Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta. They are:

(a) She was virtuous,

(b) Her offering had been righteously obtained,

(c) Her mind was clear and taintless,

(d) She had strong enough faith in the Law of Kamma and its results.

The three factors mentioned in the Nandamata Sutta were also fulfilled. They are:

- She was glad at heart before giving,

- Her heart was satisfied in giving,

- She was joyful when she had given.

These factors are very important for a giver, whether male or female. If he or she expects incalculable and immeasurable good results, he or she should try to fulfil those factors. But accord-ing to the Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta, the receiver too must be virtuous. According to the Nandamata Sutta, it should be a bhikkhu or bhikk-huni who has cultivated Samatha-Vipassana meditation up to the arahant stage, or who is cultivating Samatha-

Vipassana meditation to destroy attachment (raga), anger (dosa), and delusion (moha).

Now in Yi-Tung Temple, there are many bhikkhus and bhikkhunls who are practising Samatha and Vipassana meditation to destroy attachment, anger, and delusion totally. They are also virtuous. So we may say that now there are worthy receivers here. The givers too may be virtuous. Their minds may be clear and taintless. What they have offered has been righteously obtained. They may have strong enough faith in the Triple Gem, and the Law of Kamma and its results. They were glad before giving, and were satisfied in giving. They were joyful after having given. So we can say that the offerings made in these two months have been in accordance with the Buddha's wishes. They are noble offerings. If the givers expect good results in the future, certainly this wholesome kamma will fulfil their desire. Why? The Buddha said in the Sankharupapatti Sutta: Ijjhati bhikkhave silavato cetopanidhi visuddhatta': 'Bhikkhus, a virtuous person's wish will certainly be fulfilled by purification of conduct.' So, a virtuous person's wholesome kamma can produce the result of his desire:

- If he wants to become a Buddha he can become a Buddha,

- If he wants to become a Paccekabuddha he can become a Paccekabuddha,

- If he wants to become a Chief Disciple (aggasa-vaka) he can become a Chief Disciple,

- If he wants to become a Great Disciple (mahasa-vaka) he can become a Great Disciple,

- If he wants to become an Ordinary Disciple (pakati-savaka) he can become a Ordinary Disciple.

This is only when his paramis have matured. Wishing alone is not enough to attain one of those types of enlightenment (bodhi). Again:

- If he wants human happiness after death, he can get human happiness in the human realm.

- If he wants to go to the deva realm, he can go to the deva realm.

- If he wants to go to the brahma realm after death, this wholesome kamma can be a support for him to go to the brahma realm.

How? If his offering fulfils the previously mentioned factors, the receiver is his mind's object. He has strong enough loving-kindness and compassion for the receiver. If he at that time practises lovingkindness meditation (metta-bhavana), his loving-kindness jhana will take him to the brahma realm after death. In this way his offering is a support for him to go to the brahma realm. So, if the giver wants to go to the brahma realm after death, he should practise lovingkindness meditation up to the lovingkindness jhana stage. If he has practised lovingkindness jhana, and offers almsfood, his wholesome kamma is a very superior and powerful support for him to go to the brahma realm. So, if you want good results in the future, you should also practise loving-

kindness meditation up to the lovingkindness jhana stage. Among the three types of happiness; human happiness, deva happiness, and brahma happiness, brahma happiness is the highest. There is no mundane happiness higher than brahma happiness. It is the most superior happiness in the thirty-one planes.

This is the first type of offering mentioned in the beginning of this talk, namely, the offering which produces full fruition. Do you prefer this type of offering? If you do, then please listen to the following stanza from the Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta:

'Yo vitarago vitaragesu dadati danam

Dhammena laddham supasannacitto

Abhisaddaham kammaphalam ulharam

Tam ve danam amisadananamagganti'

'Bhikkhus, I say that when an arahant, with clear and taintless mind, placing faith in that the fruit of kamma is great, offers to an arahant what is righteously obtained, then that offering indeed is the most superior of all worldly offerings.'

In this case, the four factors present in the giver are:

1. The giver is an arahant,

2. What is offered is righteously obtained,

3. He has a clear and taintless mind,

4. He has strong enough faith in the Law of Kamma and its results.

One more factor is necessary, namely:

5. The receiver also must be an arahant.

The Buddha taught that this type of offering is the most superior type of worldly offering. He praised this type of offering as the most superior. Why? This offering produces no result. Why? The giver has destroyed delusion and all attachment to any life. Ignorance (avijja) and craving (tanha), are the main causes for kamma, that is volitional-formations (sankhara). In this case, volitional-formations means good actions like making an offering to the receiver. But this kamma cannot produce any result, because there are no supporting causes; there is no ignorance (aviija), and no craving (tanha). If the root of a tree is totally destroyed the tree cannot produce any fruit. In the same way, an arahant's offering cannot produce any result, because he has totally destroyed those roots; ignorance and craving. He has no expectation of a future life. In the Ratana Sutta the Buddha taught the following stanza:

'Khinam puranam nava natthi sambhavam virattacitta'yatike bhavasmim te khinabija avirulhichanda nibbanti dhira yathayam padipo idampi sanghe ratanam panitam etena saccena suvatthi hotu.'

'Arahants have exhausted all old wholesome and unwholesome kamma. New wholesome and unwholesome kamma do not occur in them. They have exhausted the seeds of rebirth, that is, ignorance, craving, and force of kamma. They have no expectation of a future life. All their mentality-materiality will cease like a lighted oil lamp, when the oil and wick are exhausted. By this truth may all beings be happy and free from all dangers.'

This is an assertion of truth. By the assertion of this truth all the people in Vesali became free from dangers. Vesali was a city visited by drought, famine, evil yakkhas (lower devas), and epidemic diseases. The people of Vesali asked the Buddha to help them, and he taught them the Ratana Sutta as a way to become free from dangers.

An arahant's offering is the most superior because it produces no result in the future. If there is no future life, there will be no rebirth, decay, disease and death. This is the most superior. This is the second type of offering mentioned at the beginning of this Dhamma talk: an offering which produces no fruition.

On the other hand, if due to an offering there is a good result, such as happiness in the human realm, happiness in the deva realm, or happiness in the brahma realm, then there is still suffering. The very least is that they are still subject to rebirth, subject to disease, subject to decay, and subject to death. If the giver still has attachment to sensual objects, animate and inanimate, then when those objects are destroyed or have died, there will be in him sorrow, lamentation, physical suffering, mental suffering, and despair.

Please consider this question: Can we say that an offering is superior when it produces rebirth, decay, disease, death, sorrow, lamentation, physical suffering, mental suffering, and despair? Please consider also this question: Can we say that an offering is superior when it produces no result: no rebirth, no decay, no disease, no death, no sorrow, no lamentation, no physical suffering, no mental suffering, and no despair? This is why the Buddha praised the second type of offering as the most superior. Now you may understand the meaning of this Dhamma talk. At the beginning of this Dhamma talk I mentioned two types of offering:

1. The offering which produces full fruition,

2. The offering produces no fruition.

Which type of offering do you prefer? Now you know the answer.

But if the giver is not an arahant, how can he then make the second type of offering? In the Nandamata Sutta mentioned before, the Buddha taught that there are two ways he can do this: when the receiver is free from attachment, anger, and delusion, or when he is trying to destroy attachment, anger, and delusion. You can say that the offering is also most superior, if the giver too is trying to destroy attachment, anger, and delusion; if he at the time of offering practises Vipassana, that is, if:

- He discerns his own mentality-materiality, and discerns their impermanent (anicca), suffering (dukkha), and non-self (anatta) nature;

- He discerns the impermanent, suffering, and non-self nature of external mentality-materiality, especially the receiver's mentality-materiality.

- He discerns the ultimate materiality (paramattha-

rupa) of the offerings.

When he looks at the four elements in the offerings, he sees the kalapas easily. Then when he analyses the kalapas, he discerns eight types of materiality: earth-element, water-element, fire-element, air-element, colour, smell, taste and nutritive-essence. They are materiality produced by temperature (utuja-rupa). They are produced by the fire-element in each kalapa. They are the generations of the fire-element. Furthermore, he discerns the impermanent, suffering, and non-self nature of the materiality produced by temperature (utuja-rupa). If he is able to do this type of Vipassana, his attachment, anger and delusion are suppressed at the time of offering, and also, his offering will usually produce any result, and so we can say that this type of offering also is the most superior.

He can do this type of Vipassana before, after, or while offering. But his Vipassana must be strong and powerful. He must have practised up to the stage of at least Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-nana). Only then can he practise this type of Vipassana. We should not miss this opportunity either. This opportunity exists only in this dispensation. But you may ask, how can we make this type of offering if we have no insight-knowledge? I would like to suggest that you then make your offering with the following thought: 'May this offering be the supporting cause to reach Nibbana.' This is because the Buddha many times taught to make offerings with the wish for Nibbana.

I would like to conclude my Dhamma talk by repeating the stanza from the Ratana Sutta:

'Khinam puranam nava natthi sambhavam virattacitta'yatike bhavasmim te khinabija aviru\hichanda nibbanti dhira yathayam padipo idampi sanghe ratanam panitam etena saccena suvatthi hotu.'

'Arahants have exhausted all old wholesome and unwholesome kamma. New wholesome and unwholesome kamma do not occur in them. They have exhausted the seeds of rebirth, that is, ignorance, craving, and force of kamma. They have no expectation of a future life. All their mentality-materiality will cease like a lighted oil lamp, when the oil and wick are exhausted. By this truth may all beings be happy and free from all dangers.'

May all beings be well and happy.

Black And White Moon Pics Coor

Appendix 1

Was this article helpful?

+1 0
Empty Mind Meditation

Empty Mind Meditation

Finally, The Ultimate Guide To Destroy All Your Problems. The Secrets To Eliminate All Your Problems, Worries and Stress Is About To Unveiled. Learn How You Can Let Go All Your Mind Burdens With Empty Mind Meditation.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment