GENEROSITY – DANA
Dana is training in as well as the principle of generosity. It is an ancient tradition whereby the cost of a course only covers direct expenses like room hire, catering and travel costs of the teachers, but the teachers themselves are not remunerated by a fee. Instead they rely on dana, voluntary contributions offered by the participants by the end of the course or retreat.
At Copenhagen Insight, we have chosen to continue this ancient transition and to price our courses according to the principle of dana.
Here are a few thoughts on why we believe the principle of dana is important to hold on to:
Dana opens the heart and works against our consumer culture, in which we put a price on everything.
But what if there are things that cannot be priced – at least not in a monetary sense. How do we relate to that?
Things exist that don’t have a price, but a value. A value which changes with our development and understanding and which grows, the more we grow as human beings.
We have lots of stuff that we pay for and then, at some point or another, get rid of. These things no longer have any value, if they had, we wouldn’t get rid of them.
Wisdom has value, but it cannot be paid. Wisdom is not mine – wisdom is received and passed on. Recycling, you might call it. A cycle of open hearts receiving and giving.
Everyone is invited into this cycle. And this is also where it starts, compassion for all, for those who can give, for those who have difficulty giving and for those who initially will only receive and not give but still would like to practice until they start to understand.
Dana allows an equality: everyone can give something and no one needs to feel inadequate because they are unable to give enough.
“Every time I give voluntarily, I also give of myself. And this act opens my heart and that is what is the best basis for a good meditation: to sit with an open heart and receive openly what is given.
It really took many years for me to understand that I will never ever be able to say thank you to all the people who have given freely of their wisdom and life experience.
So the only thing I can do is pass it on. To become part of this cycle so that it does not stop and make wisdom accessible to everyone.
That is the only reason I can give. Because others have given to me.” – Gerit Stoecklmair
We know that in the beginning practicing dana can be a challenge and so here are a few thoughts which might be helpful for your considerations:
- Be realistic about what you can give.
- What would you give to a highly educated teacher in another subject?
- Consider the importance of passing on wisdom. Our teachers do not live in monasteries that provide for their physical well-being, ie. that which our teachers receive, supports their living.
- Consider the importance of generosity as practice, especially in the culture we live in today in the West.
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