Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

IV. Giving

31 (1) Giving (1)
“Bhikkhus, there are these eight gifts. What eight? (1) Having insulted [the recipient], one gives a gift. (2) One gives a gift from fear. (3) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘He gave to me.’ (4) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘He will give to me.’ (5) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘Giving is good.’ (6) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘I cook; these people do not cook. It isn’t right that I who cook should not give to those who do not cook.’ (7) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘Because I have given this gift, I will gain a good reputation.’ (8) One gives a gift for the purpose of ornamenting the mind, equipping the mind.”

32 (2) Giving (2)

Faith, moral shame, and wholesome giving
are qualities pursued by the good person;
for this, they say, is the divine path
by which one goes to the world of the devas.

33 (3) Grounds
“Bhikkhus, there are these eight grounds for giving. What eight? (1) One gives a gift from desire. (2) One gives a gift from hatred. (3) One gives a gift from delusion. (4) One gives a gift from fear. (5) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘Giving was practiced before by my father and forefathers; I should not abandon this ancient family custom.’ (6) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘Having given this gift, with the breakup of the body, after death, I will be reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.’ (7) One gives a gift, [thinking]: ‘When I am giving this gift my mind becomes placid, [237] and elation and joy arise.’ (8) One gives a gift for the purpose of ornamenting the mind, equipping the mind. These are the eight grounds for giving.”

34 (4) The Field
“Bhikkhus, a seed sown in a field that possesses eight factors does not bring forth abundant fruits, its [fruits] are not delectable, and it does not yield a profit. What eight factors?
    “Here, (1) the field has mounds and ditches; (2) it contains stones and gravel; (3) it is salty; (4) it is not deeply furrowed; (5) it does not have inlets [for the water to enter]; (6) it does not have outlets [for excess water to flow out]; (7) it does not have irrigation channels; and (8) it does not have boundaries. A seed sown in a field that possesses these eight factors does not bring forth abundant fruits, its [fruits] are not delectable, and it does not yield a profit.
    “So too, bhikkhus, a gift given to ascetics and brahmins who possess eight factors is not of great fruit and benefit, and it is not very brilliant or pervasive. What eight factors? Here, the ascetics and brahmins are of wrong view, wrong intention, wrong speech, wrong action, wrong livelihood, wrong effort, wrong mindfulness, and wrong concentration. A gift given to ascetics and brahmins who possess these eight factors is not of great fruit and benefit, and it is not very brilliant or pervasive.
    “Bhikkhus, a seed sown in a field that possesses eight factors brings forth abundant fruits, its [fruits] are delectable, and it yields a profit. What eight factors?
    “Here, (1) the field does not have mounds and ditches; (2) it does not contain stones and gravel; (3) it is not salty; (4) it is deeply [238] furrowed; (5) it has inlets [for the water to enter]; (6) it has outlets [for excess water to flow out]; (7) it has irrigation channels; and (8) it has boundaries. A seed sown in a field that possesses these eight factors brings forth abundant fruits, its [fruits] are delectable, and it yields a profit.
    “So too, bhikkhus, a gift given to ascetics and brahmins who possess eight factors is of great fruit and benefit, and it is extraordinarily brilliant and pervasive. What eight factors? Here, the ascetics and brahmins are of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. A gift given to ascetics and brahmins who possess these eight factors is of great fruit and benefit, and it is extraordinarily brilliant and pervasive.”

When the field is excellent,
and the seed sown is excellent,
and there is an excellent supply of rain,
the yield of grain is excellent.

Its health is excellent;
its growth [too] is excellent;
its maturation is excellent;
its fruit truly is excellent.

So too when one gives excellent food
to those accomplished in virtuous behavior,
it arrives at several kinds of excellence,
for what one has done is excellent.

Therefore if one desires excellence
let a person here be accomplished;
one should resort to those accomplished in wisdom;
thus one’s own accomplishments flourish.

One accomplished in true knowledge and conduct,
having gained accomplishment of mind,
performs action that is accomplished
and accomplishes the good.

Having known the world as it is,
one should attain accomplishment in view.
One accomplished in mind advances
by relying on accomplishment in the path. [239]

Having rubbed off all stains,
having attained nibbāna,
one is then freed from all sufferings:
this is total accomplishment.

35 (5) Rebirth on account of Giving
“Bhikkhus, there are these eight kinds of rebirth on account of giving. What eight?
    (1) “Here, someone gives a gift to an ascetic or a brahmin: food and drink; clothing and vehicles; garlands, scents, and unguents; bedding, dwellings, and lighting. Whatever he gives, he expects something in return. He sees affluent khattiyas, affluent brahmins, or affluent householders enjoying themselves furnished and endowed with the five objects of sensual pleasure. It occurs to him: ‘Oh, with the breakup of the body, after death, may I be reborn in companionship with affluent khattiyas, affluent brahmins, or affluent householders!’ He sets his mind on this, fixes his mind on this, and develops this state of mind. That aspiration of his, resolved on what is inferior, not developed higher, leads to rebirth there. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with affluent khattiyas, affluent brahmins, or affluent householders—and that is for one who is virtuous, I say, not for one who is immoral. The heart’s wish of one who is virtuous succeeds because of his purity.
    (2) “Someone else gives a gift to an ascetic or a brahmin: food and drink … and lighting. Whatever he gives, he expects something in return. He has heard: ‘The devas [ruled by] the four great kings [240] are long-lived, beautiful, and abound in happiness.’ It occurs to him: ‘Oh, with the breakup of the body, after death, may I be reborn in companionship with the devas [ruled by] the four great kings!’ He sets his mind on this, fixes his mind on this, and develops this state of mind. That aspiration of his, resolved on what is inferior, not developed higher, leads to rebirth there. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the devas [ruled by] the four great kings—and that is for one who is virtuous, I say, not for one who is immoral. The heart’s wish of one who is virtuous succeeds because of his purity.
    (3)–(7) “Someone else gives a gift to an ascetic or a brahmin: food and drink … and lighting. Whatever he gives, he expects something in return. He has heard: ‘The Tāvatiṃsa devas … the Yāma devas … the Tusita devas … the devas who delight in creation … the devas who control what is created by others are long-lived, beautiful, and abound in happiness.’ It occurs to him: ‘Oh, with the breakup of the body, after death, may I be reborn in companionship with the devas who control what is created by others!’ He sets his mind on this, fixes his mind on this, and develops this state of mind. That aspiration of his, resolved on what is inferior, not developed higher, leads to rebirth there. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the devas who control what is created by others—and that is for one who is virtuous, I say, not for one who is immoral. The heart’s wish of one who is virtuous succeeds because of his purity.
    (8) “Someone else gives a gift to an ascetic or a brahmin: food and drink … and lighting. Whatever he gives, he expects something in return. He has heard: ‘The devas of Brahmā’s company [241] are long-lived, beautiful, and abound in happiness.’ It occurs to him: ‘Oh, with the breakup of the body, after death, may I be reborn in companionship with the devas of Brahmā’s company!’ He sets his mind on this, fixes his mind on this, and develops this state of mind. That aspiration of his, resolved on what is inferior, not developed higher, leads to rebirth there. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the devas of Brahmā’s company—and that is for one who is virtuous, I say, not for one who is immoral; for one without lust, not for one with lust. The heart’s wish of one who is virtuous succeeds because of his purity.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the eight kinds of rebirth on account of giving.”

36 (6) Activity
“Bhikkhus, there are these three bases of meritorious activity. What three? The basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving; the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior; and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development.
    (1) “Here, bhikkhus, someone has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a limited extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a limited extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn among humans in an unfavorable condition.
    (2) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a middling extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a middling extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn among humans in a favorable condition.
    (3) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a superior extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior [242] to a superior extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the devas [ruled by] the four great kings. There the four great kings, who had practiced superlatively the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior surpass the devas [ruled by] the four great kings in ten respects: in celestial life span, celestial beauty, celestial happiness, celestial glory, and celestial authority; and in celestial forms, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile objects.
    (4) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a superior extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a superior extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the Tāvatiṃsa devas. There Sakka, ruler of the devas, who had practiced superlatively the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior, surpasses the Tāvatiṃsa devas in ten respects: in celestial life span … and tactile objects.
    (5) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a superior extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a superior extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the Yāma devas. There the young deva Suyāma, who had practiced superlatively the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior, surpasses the Yāma devas in ten respects: in celestial life span … and tactile objects.
    (6) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a superior extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a superior extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the Tusita devas. [243] There the young deva Santusita, who had practiced superlatively the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior, surpasses the Tusita devas in ten respects: in celestial life span … and tactile objects.
    (7) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a superior extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a superior extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the devas who delight in creation. There the young deva Sunimmita, who had practiced superlatively the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior, surpasses the devas who delight in creation in ten respects: in celestial life span … and tactile objects.
    (8) “Someone else has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving to a superior extent; he has practiced the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior to a superior extent; but he has not undertaken the basis of meritorious activity consisting in meditative development. With the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in companionship with the devas who control what is created by others. There the young deva Vasavattī, who had practiced superlatively the basis of meritorious activity consisting in giving and the basis of meritorious activity consisting in virtuous behavior, surpasses the devas who control what is created by others in ten respects: in celestial life span, celestial beauty, celestial happiness, celestial glory, and celestial authority; and in celestial forms, sounds, odors, tastes, and tactile objects.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the three bases of meritorious activity.”

37 (7) The Good Person’s Gifts
“Bhikkhus, there are these eight gifts of a good person? What eight? [244] (1) He gives what is pure; (2) he gives what is excellent; (3) he gives a timely gift; (4) he gives what is allowable; (5) he gives after investigation; (6) he gives often; (7) while giving he settles his mind in confidence; and (8) having given, he is elated. These are the eight gifts of a good person.”

He gives what is pure and excellent,
allowable drinks and food at the proper time;
he gives gifts often to fertile fields of merit,
to those who lead the spiritual life.

He does not feel regret,
having given away many material things.
Those with deep insight praise
the gifts given in this way.

Having thus practiced charity
with a mind freely generous,
one intelligent and wise, rich in faith,
is reborn in a pleasant, unafflicted world.

38 (8) The Good Person
Bhikkhus, when a good person is born in a family, it is for the good, welfare, and happiness of many people. It is for the good, welfare, and happiness of (1) his mother and father, (2) his wife and children, (3) his slaves, workers, and servants, (4) his friends and companions, (5) his departed ancestors, (6) the king, (7) the deities, and (8) ascetics and brahmins. Just as a great rain cloud, nurturing all the crops, appears for the good, welfare, and happiness of many people, so too, when a good person is born in a family, it is for the good, welfare, and happiness of many people. It is for the good, welfare, and happiness of his mother and father … [245] ... ascetics and brahmins.”

The wise person, dwelling at home,
truly lives for the good of many.
Day and night diligent toward
his mother, father, and ancestors,
he venerates them in accordance with the Dhamma,
recollecting what they did [for him] in the past.

Firm in faith, the pious man,
having known their good qualities,
venerates the homeless renouncers,
the mendicants who lead the spiritual life.

Beneficial to the king and the devas,
beneficial to his relatives and friends,
indeed, beneficial to all,
well established in the good Dhamma,
he has removed the stain of miserliness
and fares on to an auspicious world.

39 (9) Streams 
“Bhikkhus, there are these eight streams of merit, streams of the wholesome, nutriments of happiness—heavenly, ripening in happiness, conducive to heaven—that lead to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness. What eight?
    (1) “Here, a noble disciple has gone for refuge to the Buddha. This is the first stream of merit, stream of the wholesome, nutriment of happiness—heavenly, ripening in happiness, conducive to heaven—that leads to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness.
    (2) “Again, a noble disciple has gone for refuge to the Dhamma. This is the second stream of merit … that leads to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness.
    (3) “Again, a noble disciple has gone for refuge to the Saṅgha. This is the third stream of merit … that leads to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness. [246]
    “There are, bhikkhus, these five gifts, great gifts, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which are not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. What five?
    (4) “Here, a noble disciple, having abandoned the destruction of life, abstains from the destruction of life. By abstaining from the destruction of life, the noble disciple gives to an immeasurable number of beings freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction. He himself in turn enjoys immeasurable freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction. This is the first gift, a great gift, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which is not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. This is the fourth stream of merit … that leads to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness.
    (5)–(8) “Again, a noble disciple, having abandoned the taking of what is not given, abstains from taking what is not given … abstains from sexual misconduct … abstains from false speech … abstains from liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness. By abstaining from liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness, the noble disciple gives to an immeasurable number of beings freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction. He himself in turn enjoys immeasurable freedom from fear, enmity, and affliction. This is the fifth gift, a great gift, primal, of long standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated and never before adulterated, which is not being adulterated and will not be adulterated, not repudiated by wise ascetics and brahmins. This is the eighth stream of merit [247] … that leads to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the eight streams of merit, streams of the wholesome, nutriments of happiness—heavenly, ripening in happiness, conducive to heaven—that lead to what is wished for, desired, and agreeable, to one’s welfare and happiness.”

40 (10) Conducive 
(1) “Bhikkhus, the destruction of life, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being the destruction of life at minimum conduces to a short life span.
    (2) “Taking what is not given, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being taking what is not given at minimum conduces to loss of wealth.
    (3) “Sexual misconduct, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being sexual misconduct at minimum conduces to enmity and rivalry.
    (4) “False speech, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being false speech at minimum conduces to false accusations.
    (5) “Divisive speech, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being divisive speech at minimum conduces to being divided from one’s friends. [248]
    (6) “Harsh speech, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being harsh speech at minimum conduces to disagreeable sounds.
    (7) “Idle chatter, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being idle chatter at minimum conduces to others distrusting one’s words.
    (8) “Drinking liquor and wine, repeatedly pursued, developed, and cultivated, is conducive to hell, to the animal realm, and to the sphere of afflicted spirits; for one reborn as a human being drinking liquor and wine at minimum conduces to madness.”
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

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