Altruism Is An Attitude
In the following verses Shantideva discusses the perfection of generosity, the
first of the six exalted qualities in which bodhisattvas train on their path to
buddhahood (the others are ethics, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom).
He indicates that generosity is an attitude of eagerness to give away all that
one has for the benefit of others, but is not necessarily a perfection of the
ability to give. In other words, bodhisattvas do not have to become wealthy in
order to perfect generosity, but rather need to develop an attitude of love toward
other beings and complete non-attachment toward possessions.
If through eliminating the poverty
Of beings, a perfection of giving occurred,
Then since there are still poor beings, how did
The former protectors achieve protection?
Through an attitude of giving to all beings
All one's possessions with their fruits
A perfection of giving is said to occur,
Thus it is just in attitude.