If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”
By Joshua Sumitta Hudson
Thanksgiving is a great time for Buddhist. The act of giving thanks is a way we can develop ourselves. By recognizing all the wonderful gifts we receive in life Buddhists can appreciate the world around us.
The gift of the dhamma (dhammadana) we have received this past year is as important as the food and drink received to sustain the body.
The gifts we have given are shared with others out of compassion. Giving counteracts the states of aversion and clinging. Accepting gifts are opportunities to develop appreciation and connection. The changes within us maybe profound or minor, but they are important to be recognized.
Giving comes naturally to some and not so for others. For those who find it easy are blessed with the joys of doing good deeds. Those who do not can practice the unequalled joy of “merit-making” for the world.
Giving comes very naturally to some people — they enjoy giving and are unhappy if they cannot do so. And though it is obvious that one can give foolishly, it is in general a very good and meritorious thing to give. This is recognized in, probably, all religions: in Christianity we are told that 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 the poor.
Giving is the practice of developing a mind of emptying ourselves and lessening our clinging to possessions, and strengthening our skills of compassion. This is why dana is considered a good starting point of a successful Buddhist practice.
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote, “The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development. In the Pali suttas we read time and again that “talk on giving” (danakatha) was invariably the first topic to be discussed by the Buddha in his “graduated exposition” of the Dhamma.
Whenever the Buddha delivered a discourse to an audience of people who had not yet come to regard him as their teacher, he would start by emphasizing the value of giving.Only after his audience had come to appreciate this virtue would he introduce other aspects of his teaching, such as morality, the law of kamma, and the benefits in renunciation, and only after all these principles had made their impact on the minds of his listeners would he expound to them that unique discovery of the Awakened Ones, the Four Noble Truths.”