Since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha 2,500 years ago, the transmission of the Buddha's teachings has been supported by the members of the practice community through "dana," a Pali word usually translated into English as “generosity” or “giving."
As a fundamental part of the Buddha's Way, dana is the practice of developing a generous and open heart. Along with the cultivation of harmonious living and of wisdom, generosity is considered one of the fundamental pillars of the Dharma (the teachings and practices of Buddhism). The practice of generosity is one of the six paramitas, transformative actions that lead to liberation and enlightenment. (The other five paramitas are virtuous conduct, patience, diligent effort, concentration, and wisdom.)
Our teachers freely share their Dharma teachings and offer us the fruits of their many years of training and practice. Dana is a way for us to express our individual appreciation for our teachers' dedication to transmitting the Dharma and alleviating suffering and for us to express our gratitude for the Dharma and the unbroken lineage of teachers that began over 2,500 years ago with Shakyamuni Buddha himself.
How do we practice dana in the Florida Community of Mindfulness?
FCM relies upon its members for their annual membership pledges and other tax-deductible voluntary financial contributions, which are FCM’s sole source of funds. This dana is used to cover the support of our teacher, Fred Eppsteier, and to cover the other costs described above.
Equally important, volunteers from our local meditation groups offer their time to serve their sanghas by setting up the meditation hall, leading meditation practice, providing flower arrangements, or preparing refreshments after meditation. FCM members also practice dana by contributing their time and skills to provide needed services to FCM such as website maintenance, the development of educational programs, editing our newsletter, and providing organizational leadership.
Dana is the practice of "hidden virtue." Practicing dana with awareness allows us to work through our self-centered attachments, especially our attachment to our money, time, and self-interest, so that we can be free to truly help and support others in myriad ways.