Dhammadipa has the principle of dāna (generosity and donation) as the guiding principle for generating income. The primary reason being, that the Buddha’s teachings should not be sold as marketable goods, to cater the demand for contemplation and spiritual needs. It is furthermore important to provide an opportunity to practice generosity as it contributes to spiritual development.
The Pāḷi word “dāna” can mean different kinds of generosity: making donations, giving one’s time or efforts, or goodwill. The concept of dana assumes an important role in the Buddha’s teachings. Of the ten perfections (pāramī) of an enlightened being it is the first.
Pāramī dāna is regarded as the first step towards liberation from anger, desire and ignorance. It is even mentioned ahead of morality (sīla) and practice (bhāvanā). The development of dāna as pāramī is therefore of great importance for the meditator.
Dāna furthermore illustrates the bond of appreciation and solidarity between the giver and the receiver. As such it is an expression of reciprocity between the meditator and the center that supports the Sangha, of practitioners.
The concept of dāna can be divided in material dāna, doing services as dāna and dhamma dāna.
The first one, is the act of giving away money and/or goods; The second refers to volunteering one’s time, effort and good wishes; And the last entails the voluntary teaching and transfer of knowledge regarding the Dhamma. Dāna is a direct way to acquire merit (puñña), required to reach enlightenment (nibbāna).
For Dhammadipa this means that the meditation instruction and guidance provided are solely in exchange for voluntary donations. Income from fixed fees (to cover operating costs) accounts for less than 10% of the total income.
To maximize benefit from practicing dāna, one can perform any act of giving with full attention while formulating the following intentions in one’s heart: “May this act of giving contribute to the attainment of nibbāna.” In doing so, the meditator dedicates all merit to the goal of the practice, which will in turn support the practice. The Buddhist teachings state: “Saṅghaṃ anuttaraṃ puññākhettaṁ.” Here the Sangha constitutes the unsurpassed field of merit. In other words the greatest merit can be attained by giving to the Sangha (of monks and ariya).
The merit of the giver is connected to the level of morality (sīla) of the receiver. Relatively minor merit can be attained by giving to beings who have little or no understanding of morality. The concept of dāna thus directly illustrates the giver’s acknowledgement of the fact that the receiver’s sīla (precepts shaping one’s morality) determines the spiritual development of the giver.
In our Western context this implies that it is good to donate to people who inspire you because they keep their sīla or follow the Noble Eightfold Path. Or to persons who teach the Dhamma. Getting support enables them to free up time for this activity to the benefit of many.
Following the footsteps of the Buddha-Dhamma tradition, Dhammadipa supports the conviction that the teachings of the Buddha do not have an owner and therefore cannot be traded as a product. The meditation teachers and facilitators obtained their Dhamma as a fruit (vipāka) of their wholesome actions (puñña) in the past, and are now, in turn able to pass this Dhamma on to others.
It is important to pass on the Dhamma with a pure heart, free from striving for personal gain.
The Dhammapada, verse 354, states:
“Sabbadānaṁ dhammadānaṁ jināti.”
Of all gifts, the gift of Dhamma (the truth) is the highest.