To feed and treat: Dana and Metta


When it comes to dana (giving), it should be based on the insight in anatta (non-self). A lot of people ask themselves when to give and how to give, and in a world full of betrayal and greed those questions are justified. For someone who claims to be a monk and even a teacher of Buddhism, on the other hand, practice should be clear. It is not wise in a world where masses lack food, clean water and medical support, to spend 10 million Euro (wherever they come from) for an institution that upholds primarily ones own teachings and name, as the EIAB does. No surprise, the Vietnamese millionaire Thich Nhat Hanh (TNH) who also tends to cite only his own writings in his books, nearing his own death, just reaps his own karma when contradicting his lifelong teaching of mindfulness by giving his sangha their own status symbol. TNH may not talk much about his past in Vietnam and his former inclination towards the militant Thich Tri Quang. But he liked to reform the precepts and thus once stated: “A bhikshu who lends money with interest, invests money, buys and sells stocks or shares, invests in land or real estate, or plays the lottery, commits an offense which involves Release and Expression of Regret.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, Freedom Wherever We Go: A Buddhist Monastic Code for the 21st Century, Parallax Press, 2004). As we can see in the certificate of registration for EIAB (HRB 20905, AG Dortmund) TNH is mentioned as one of its shareholders.

What we could deduct from this is simply that the practice of mindfulness does not necessarily lead to mindfulness. But the nub of the matter is that when you are able to make or collect more money than necessary for your basics, it is time to share it with those most in need. It is not the Germans who want to attend seminars, lectures and meditation retreats, as they are offered in thousands per year. I am writing this from the library of a foundation who takes care of physically and mentally handicapped, blind, deaf, orphans and the elderly. This foundation is run by Christians. A Buddhist who cannot see the real needs of people with the eye of a Christian and the heart of agape should refrain from talking a lot about loving-kindness (metta). Metta is love without clinging (upadana), and for a zen practitioner it means that he drops even the clinging to his own posse and reaches out to mankind as the true sangha of the earth. There he will see what is urgent (to feed and treat) and what is not (to attract masses).



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