„Merit can't be stolen by thieves."

“Monks, if beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of selfishness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared, if there were someone to receive their gift. ” (Iti 26)

The Buddha used the Pali word “dāna” to describe generosity. Activating generosity within us is the first instruction the Buddha gave to lay people. It was his first step teaching us to open our hearts to help make us successful in life and in spiritual development.

There are these three types of generosity taught by the Buddha.
generosity of mind:

We learn to cultivate wholesome thoughts to support ourselves and those around us.

generosity of speech:

We use kind and wise words with good intention to help ourselves and others to be successful in life. 

generosity of bodily actions:

We are doing good deeds that help your family, teachers, and others in your life whenever there is need. It also means the direct act of offering dana as described below.

"Should a person do good, let him do it again and again. Let him find pleasure therein, for blissful is the accumulation of good." (Dhp 118)

In Buddhist Asian countries, lay community members support programs and activities at monasteries and meditation centers by providing goods and services to sustain their highly valued role in society. These traditional communities make it possible to build housing; provide transportation, clothing, food, and medicine to  monastics so that they can dedicate themselves full time in teaching and preserving the riches of wisdom and compassion found in the Buddha’s Teachings.

For an in depth article on all the aspects of Dana you might enjoy this publication.

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