(On this page are my reflections on the concept and purpose of donation as a tool for growth and as a form of individual expression. It can also point at one's attitude towards generosity, material value and material possessions. What is written here is the fruit of my experience and observations, combined with a personal aspiration to rightly efforts and wholesome actions. It can be a stepping-stone for your own reflections, and a useful guideline for making choices and taking decisions. At the conclusion of this page, practical aspects of implementing this concept in my work will be addressed. May you have an informative, pleasant and fruitful read.)
For me the concept of donation embodies foundations for -
- spiritual growth and transformation,
- cultivation of wholesome mental qualities
- generous and benevolent actions
My intention is to take this concept and make it practical and applicable in daily life circumstances, not just an idealized theoretical idea. Experience over time has shown me that it is a very useful tool for the therapist and teacher, as well as for patients and students. In general, it is a skillful means for those who recognize and acknowledge that we exist in this world inter-dependently and generosity is a key to a harmonious society and individual contentment.
On this page -
- Dana - Generosity
- Whole-hearted Exchange
- Money is Also Energy
- Responsibility, Choice & Gratitude
- Making it Practical - the Sliding-Scale Donation Fee
Dāna - Generosity
In the ancient languages of Sanskrit and Pali the word Dāna means 'generosity' or 'giving'. In Buddhism, this word also means the cultivation of generosity.
Ultimately, this practice culminates in the perfection of giving (dāna-pāramitā). This is a perfection of the mind, based in wisdom, and can be characterized by unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go. According to oriental traditions, it has the effect of supporting the purification and transformation process of the mind of the giver, since it reduces the acquisitive impulses and greedy tendencies that ultimately lead to a state of suffering and discontentment.
Even though in the orient (today also in the West) the term Dāna is usually associated with formal religious acts directed specifically to a monastic or spiritually-developed person, there is no reason why it should not also be associated conceptually with circumstances in general social life. Generosity developed through giving ultimately leads to real happiness and spiritual wealth.
Donation creates a relationship of exchange in harmony with the laws of nature, inter-dependence and inter-relationship. This relationship of "give and receive" is based on conscious awareness, personal responsibility, attentive consideration, mutual respect and wisdom. It affects all aspects of your life and all the people and situations we come in contact with.
Hopefully, when we exchange, we do so whole-heartedly, with goodwill and positive intentions. We receive and we give, and if the act of giving is done whole-heartedly, so the giving in return is in the same manner. Even though what is received and what is given may have different forms, in essence it can have the same 'feeling', and the relationship between the giver and receiver is personal and direct.
When making a purchase, so often our mind already thinks of it as 'mine' - mine to do with as I please. It is up to us me if I regard it with due care and respect or disregard it, or even just carelessly throw it aside. Receiving whole-heartedly makes us more committed and involved as we have now invested something of ourselves in the act of receiving has, and it includes a certain measure of respect, appreciation and responsibility which we willfully awaken in ourselves, the giver and what has been given. This in turn will generate the proper attitude when it is our time to acknowledge the value of what we have received. In an exchange based on concepts of donation, we are in a partnership, where there is mutual respect and an understanding that both sides are actively responsible for the end result.
In the consumer world today the price is usually set in advance, which results in us having an expectation directly related to the price tag. We may formulate preconceived ideas about what this product should give us or what we deserve to get from it in terms of service, benefit or enjoyment. These preconceptions create a judgmental and demanding attitude directed outwards. Our perception may be limited as we become 'fixed' on a specific idea regarding our purchase. A donation-based approach allows us be a receiver with less or no preconceptions, and develops in us an attitude of openness and unconditionality. In this way we appreciate and value what has been given in its entirety. This concept works in both directions, giver and receive interact with honesty, open-mindedness and non-judgment. Responsibility lies equally on both sides to put forth their best efforts, each one in accordance to his position in the interaction.
Based on the idea of mutual exchange, the donation concept gives us an opportunity to become aware of how we relate to others, and we can perfect our integrity and honesty. If we "cheat" we are actually mostly cheating ourselves.
In any profession the person has previously invested effort, time, expenses and energy, to become skillful and experienced. In many cases this process continues in the present, as experience is accumulated and knowledge is constantly being perfected and updated. It is only reasonable that this investment of resources and energy will be valued and appreciated by those benefiting from it. It is up to the receiver to consider all of these and give it expression in the appropriate attitude, as well as adequate remuneration. Such evaluation can include practical factors, as well as the elements such as personal appreciation, respect and gratitude.
It is good to remember that the reason why we, in the present, are receiving something from some one, is that somebody else, before us, in the past, has practiced generosity. It is due to all those who donated in the past that conditions have been created to continue the cycle that is reaching us today. In this life continuum, we are active participants; we have a chance to contribute to this process, to keep turning the wheel of generosity and giving. This is especially true in all that pertains to passing on teachings of knowledge and wisdom. By giving a donation to any institution, project or person we show appreciation for what we consider fortunate to have received, while at the same time creating conditions in future for others to receive as well.
Money is Also Energy
The word 'donation' and the concept of giving are often associated with the exchange of money. Some people find it difficult to think of money as a 'decent' and valid form of exchange, as they may have some concept of money being 'dirty', impersonal, devoid of sentiment or unable to reflect true value for something that they consider priceless (meaning so high of value that it is hard to limit to a numerical price).
It is true that the term 'exchange' allows for many ways of giving, such as an exchange of services, products, etc. Nevertheless, in this day and age, of international movement and globalization of goods and services, money is practical. It is one more form of energy as legitimate and 'clean' as any other. What gives money the 'personal touch' is the way in which it is given - intention, state of mind, wholehearted-ness, integrity and a genuine sense of value and gratitude. If it comes from you in this way you can be sure that it will be received as such.
Responsibility, choice and gratitude
In our adult life we sometimes tend to recreate in the parent-child or teacher-student patterns from our childhood and maturing years. In a mature donation-based relationship, we realize that the more effort we put the more we will get from it. What we will receive is in direct proportion to our personal involvement and commitment. The degree of intensity and depth of the relationship is highly dependent on the receiver's readiness and willingness to take an active part in the process. A therapist/teacher can give only as much as the patient/student is ready to take on. The degree of adaptability and pliability of the student/patient is subtly related to existence of the donation concept in the relationship.
In the past, the traditional way was that Masters would put disciples to the test before beginning to teach - testing their perseverance, determination and readiness to fully commit to the task at hand. Prospective disciples needed to prove that they were worthy of being taught, meaning worthy of the Master's investment of time and effort. Today, such Masters are rare to be found, and most of the time we need to go through the 'testing' process on our own. We need to reflect on our priorities in life, on our goals, consider what is valuable and what we should put our efforts, time and resources into, for personal growth and development. Each one is an individual, and as long as there is no higher authority to instruct and guide, only you can make such decisions.
Donation is one of the ways to express personal choice, and show respect and appreciation for those who have been generous to us with their time, knowledge and attention. It also reflects personal integrity and commitment, gratitude and generosity.
Making it Practical - the Sliding-Scale Donation Fee
The future is created by actions in the present. Your donations reflect your appreciation of the courses and treatments, and become part of creating future opportunities for others to experience the same. The sliding-scale donation concept is a creative tool in your hands for expressing generosity, inter-connectedness and gratitude. Any donations beyond the sliding-scale range will be graciously accepted. After all, there is no limit to whole-heartedness, is there?
- For information on the sliding-scale donation fee of a specific course, study program or treatment session click here.
- Note - The longterm, intensive, integrated training programs have a set minimum fee, and are not based on a full donation concept, this due to there being substantial, basic epxenses and logistics to be considered, which need prior commitment and organization.
- (If some one sincerely finds that he/she is unable to afford the minimum in the sliding-scale range, there is a possibility for personal consideration. In this case please contact me personally.)