In Praise of Dana (Giving)

From Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom
(Dharmamitra Translation)

Question: What benefits does dana bestow that the bodhisattva abiding in the prajnaparamita therefore fully perfects it?

Response: Dana brings all manner of benefits. Dana serves as a treasury which constantly follows along with a person. Dana destroys suffering and bestows bliss upon people. Dana is a good guide which shows the way to the heavens. Dana is a storehouse of goodness for it draws in good people. ({Chinese Textual Note:} Giving draws in good people as a result of one's setting up causes and conditions {i.e. karmic affinities} with them. Hence the text reads "draws in.")

Dana constitutes [a source of] peace and security. When one reaches the end of one's life one's mind is without fear. Dana is a mark of loving kindness. It is able to rescue everyone. Dana is able to gather together blisses and is able to rout the invaders of suffering. Dana is a great general which is able to defeat the enemy of miserliness.

Dana is a marvelous fruit which is loved by gods and men. Dana is a path of purity travelled by the worthies and aryas. Dana is the entryway for the accumulation of goodness and meritorious qualities. Dana is a condition for the accomplishment of works and for the gathering together of a multitude. Dana is the seed of the treasured fruit of good actions. Dana is the mark of the good person endowed with meritorious karma.

Dana destroys poverty and cuts one off from the three wretched destinies. Dana is able to preserve and protect the fruit of blessings and bliss. Dana is the primary condition for the realization of nirvana. It is the essential dharma for entry into the multitude of good people. It is the vast repository of good repute and praiseful commendation. It provides the quality of being free of difficulties in the midst of the multitudes. It is the cavernous mansion of the mind's freedom from regret. It is the origin of good dharmas and of one's cultivation of the Way. It is the dense forest of every manner of delight and bliss. It is the field of blessings for the reaping of wealth, nobility and peaceful security. It is the bridge across to the realization of the Way and entry into nirvana. It is traversed by the aryas, the great masters, and those possessed of wisdom. It is that which everyone else, those of minor virtue and lesser intelligence, should emulate.

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