Reframing an Opportunity to Give

Luang Por Pasanno • October 2012

In one discourse, the Buddha speaks about the great gifts we give to countless beings by keeping the precepts. Through diligence in virtue, using the precepts to guide our conduct, we offer security to other beings—freedom from danger, fear, and animosity. These are great gifts, indeed.

Similarly, in terms of our daily lives in the monastery, it’s helpful to reframe what we do and how we approach life so that we look at our activities as opportunities to give gifts of service. We can give a gift of service by doing a task that needs to be done instead of waiting for somebody else to do it. Rather than attending the morning pūjās and group practices because we feel they are being imposed from the outside, we can take our attendance as an opportunity to give a gift to the community by supporting and encouraging each other in practice. There can be a completely different relationship with how we deal with our schedules if we are willing to view them in this way. Rather than considering our duties and chores as onerous tasks we have to put up with, we can relate to them as an opportunity to give a gift that sustains the monastery and the supportive community we live in together.

We mustn’t relate to the practice like wage laborers. If we think of ourselves as working stiffs trudging through the practice to get our paycheck at the end of the week, then there’s not much joy or wisdom arising from what we are doing. But when we relate to the practice as a series of opportunities to give what’s beneficial to others, then it is in all respects a different matter, it has a completely different feel. And of course, as with any gift, the first beneficiary is ourselves. When we relate to the training and the life we are leading in terms of giving, it uplifts our hearts.