The Primary Buddhist Virtue

Generosity = càga (but also means relinquishment or letting

Giving = dàna (also refers to the thing given)

The Ten Perfections:
Giving, Virtue, Renunciation,
Discernment, Effort, Patience, Truth, Resolve, Loving
Kindness, Equanimity.

The Ten Wholesome Actions:
Giving, virtue, mental
cultivation, humility, service, sharing merit, rejoicing in
the merit of others, listening to the Dharma, teaching the
Dharma, straightening out one’s views.
D.A. III.999

The Four Bases of Social Harmony:
Giving, kind speech,
service, being equitable.
D.N. III.152; A.N. II.32

Ten Virtues of a Ruler:
Giving, virtue, altruism, honesty,
kindness, self-control, non-anger, non-violence, patience,

Four Virtues of a Householder:
Honesty, self-discipline,
forbearance, giving.

Sequence of graduated discourse:
“At that time the Buddha gave a gradual instruction to the
householder Upali on giving, morality, heaven, finding fault
with carelessness, no longer being engrossed with sensual
pressures, and the merits of renunciation. Upali’s mind was
ready, supple, free from hindrances, exuberant, and
dedicated, and so the Buddha proclaimed the teachings of all
the Buddhas, that is, suffering, the cause of suffering, the
end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering.”

M.N. I.379-380

Quotes on Generosity from the Pali Suttas

In Praise of Giving:

  1. “Giving, a Dharma life, caring for relatives, and
    Sn 263
  2. “The gift of Dharma surpasses all gifts.”
    Dhammapada 354
  3. “There are two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things
    and a gift of the Dharma. Of the two, the gift of Dharma
    is supreme.”
    Itivuttaka 98
  4. “A person responsive to requests, compassionate to all
    beings, delights in giving alms.”
    Itivuttaka 75
  5. “Having overcome stinginess, the conqueror of this stain
    should give a gift.”
    Samyutta Nikaya I.32
  6. The Benefits of Giving:

  7. “Making offering you should cleanse the mind in all ways.
    For the offerer, the offering helps abandon hatred.”
    Sn 506
  8. “The householder who is a faithful seeker and in whom
    dwells truth, Dharma, steadiness, and generosity, does not
    sorrow when he or she passes away”.
    Samyutta Nikaya I.215
  9. “Some provide from the little they have,
    Others who are affluent don’t like to give.
    An offering given from what little one has
    Is worth a thousand times its value.”
    Samyutta Nikaya I.18
  10. “Even if one throws away the rinsing from a pot or a
    cup into the village pool or pond, wishing that the living
    beings there may feed on them – even this would be a source
    of merit, not to speak of giving a gift to human beings.”
    Anguttara Nikaya III.57
  11. “A vast shower of merit will pour down on a giver.”
    Samyutta Nikaya I.101
  12. “By giving one unites friends.”
    Samyutta Nikaya I.215
  13. “Directing one’s mind to the states of faith,
    learning, generosity, and wisdom, one has a comfortable
    Majjhima Nikaya 68.10
  14. “Monks, if people knew, as I know, the fruits of
    sharing gifts, they would not enjoy their use without
    sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the
    heart. Even if it were their last bit, their last morsel of
    food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it if
    there was someone else to share it with.”
    Itivuttaka 18
  15. “If beings knew, as the Great Sage has said, how the
    results of sharing has such great fruit, then subduing the
    stain of selfishness with brightened awareness, they’d give
    in season to the noble one, where a gift bears great fruit.”
    Itivuttaka 26
  16. “When, with a trusting heart, believing in a good
    A virtuous person gives to an immoral person a gift rightly
    The giver’s virtue purifies the offering.

    When, with an untrusting heart, not believing in a good
    An immoral person gives to a virtuous person a gift not
    rightly obtained,
    The receiver’s virtue purifies the offering.

    When, with an untrusting heart, not believing in a good
    An immoral person gives to an immoral person a gift not
    rightly obtained,
    Neither’s virtue purifies the offering.

    When, with a trusting heart, believing in a good outcome,
    A virtuous person gives to a virtuous person a gift rightly
    That gift will come to full fruition.

    When with a trusting heart, believing in a good outcome,
    A person free from craving gives to a person free from
    craving a gift rightly obtained,
    MN 142

  17. Practicing Giving:

  18. “A lay follower is accomplished in generosity by
    dwelling at home with a mind devoid of stinginess, and by
    being freely generous, open-handed, delighting in
    relinquishment, devoted to charity, delighting in giving and
    Samyutta Nikaya V.395
  19. “How does a true person give gifts? Here a true person
    gives a gift carefully, gives it with his own hand, gives it
    showing respect, gives a valuable gift, gives it with the
    view that something will come of it. That is how a true
    MN 110.23
  20. “If you have little, give a little; if you have a
    middling amount, give a middling amount; if you have much,
    give much. It is not fitting not to give at all. Kosiya, I
    say to you, `Share your wealth, use it. Thread the path of
    Jataka V.382
  21. King Pasenadi asked, “Where should a gift be given?”
    The Buddha replied, “Wherever one’s mind has confidence.”
    Samyutta Nikaya I.99
  22. “A good person gives in five ways: out of faith, with
    respect, at the right time, generously, and without
    denigrating the other.”
    AN V.148
  23. “There are eight ways of giving:
    1) spontaneously
    2) out of fear
    3) to reciprocate a gift
    4) in hope to receive a gift in return
    5) by thinking it is good to give
    6) by thinking it would be improper to deny food to a
    renuncant who has none
    7) in order to get a good reputation
    8) because it ennobles the mind, adorns the mind.”
    AN VIII.31
  24. [The Theravada tradition explains that ennobling and adorn
    the mind is preparing the mind to practice insight and
    concentration. A.A. IV.123]

  25. “There are eight reasons for giving:
    1) out of affection
    2) in anger
    3) out of stupidity
    4) out of fear
    5) to maintain a family tradition
    6) in order to have a favorable rebirth
    7) by giving my heart will be glad and happiness and joy
    will arise in me
    8) in order to ennoble the mind and adorn the mind.”
  26. Quotes concerning wealth:

  27. “Wealth destroys the stupid
    But not those who seek the Beyond.
    Craving for wealth, the stupid
    Destroy themselves as well as others.”
    Dhammapada 355
  28. “Contentment is the foremost wealth.”
    Dhammapada 204
  29. “For householders in this world, poverty is suffering…
    Woeful in the world is poverty and debt.”
    Anguttara N. III.350-352
  30. “Thus from the not giving of property to the needy,
    poverty became rife, from the growth of poverty, the taking
    of what was not given increased, from the increase of theft,
    the use of weapons increased, from the increased use of
    weapons, the taking of life increased – and from the taking
    of life, peoples life-span decreased, their beauty
    Digha Nikaya III.68

Quotes on Generosity from the Diamond Sutra

“Furthermore, Subhuti, in respect to things, a bodhisattva
should practice giving without dwelling anywhere, not forms,
sounds, smells, tastes or any concept. Why? Because a
bodhisattva who gives without dwelling in any concept cannot
be calculated.”

Quotes on Generosity from a Zen Story

A monk once asked the Chinese Zen master Hui-hai, “What is
the gate of Zen practice?” Hui-hai answered, “Complete