Generosity, a kiss to another with your true heart
In the time of Jesus Christ, anyone who contracted leprosy would be segregated from the crowds. Unintimidated by the prospect of his holy body’s contamination by the disease, Jesus took the initiative to approach these people. In the same manner, Buddha Sakyamuni did not hesitate [in one of his previous incarnations] to sacrifice his own body to feed a starving, dying tiger. All religions are full of deeply moving stories about this kind of Bodhisattva activity.
Buddha once explained a few key points on the practice of alms giving (generosity) to Sumati, a young girl. They included ridding oneself of an irreverent attitude, giving with a joyful mind, and not expecting anything in return. In fact, the Buddha also pointed out that no deed of alms giving is more wondrous and noble than the giving of alms which surpasses the Four Notions (from the Diamond Sutra, the Four Notions are: the notion of self, of people, of sentient beings and of lifespan).
In the past, while tolling the bell, a novice monk showed tremendous respect and focus by visualizing the Buddha with every strike, while totally free of any distracting thoughts. Inspired by this monk’s actions, three zen practitioners simultaneously attained enlightenment during their daily meditation practice. The life of Kandata - a murderer, arsonist, and master thief with numerous robberies to his credit - was the definition of evil. However, he once inadvertently spared the life of a spider. Due to that moment of pure benevolence and generosity, though he descended into hell at the time of death, the spider manifested as a steel cord which dropped down into hell to save him. No matter the outcome of this story, it shows that through a single act of generosity, one is provided with a lifeline to survival. The wife of the ancient Indian King Prasenajit unflinchingly broke her Buddhist vows in order to protect the life of a cook. It was her compassionate mind that eventually saved his life. This is truly a demonstration of a mahayana bodhisattva’s noble conduct.
On the seemingly endless path of spiritual practice, the suffering of beings provides us with ample opportunity to practice the giving of alms. We should face these situations with an open and selfless mind, just like Sumati who, being only eight years of age, was even paid homage by the Teacher of Seven Buddhas and Bodhisattva of Supreme Wisdom, Manjushri. The ultimate act of alms giving is free from the Four Notions, lays aside all thought of personal status, and is rid of recognition and differentiation (elaborated as the Threefold Object-Domains). Only then is it a true, unbiased and supremely great act.
These are some thoughts from , Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche.