Wonderful Conduct without Dwelling
“Moreover, Subhåti, as to dharmas, a Bodhisattva should not dwell anywhere when he gives. He should not dwell
in forms when he gives, nor should he dwell in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas when he gives. Subhåti, a Bodhisattva should give thus: he should not dwell in marks
. And why? If a Bodhisattva does not dwell in marks when he gives, his blessings and virtues are immeasurable.
“Subhåti, what do you think, is space in the east measurable
?Ÿ“No, World Honored One.Ÿ
“Subhåti, is space in the south, west, north, or in the intermediate directions, or above, or below, measurable?“No, World Honored One.Ÿ
“Subhåti, the blessings and virtue of a Bodhisattva who does not dwell in marks
when he gives are just as immeasurable. Subhåti, a Bodhisattva should only dwell in what is taught thus
To have no dwelling is to have no attachment. No attachment is liberation. Therefore, not dwelling, one is liberated, independent, and not blocked or obstructed by anything.
Moreover, a Bodhisattva should not dwell anywhere when he practices giving. In other words he should not be
attached when he gives
. If he is able to free him self from attachment, he has understood that the Substance of the Three Wheels, composed of
1) one who gives,
2) one who receives, and
3) that which is given, is empty.
If your act of giving carries with it the thought, “I practice giving and have done many meritorious and virtuous deeds,or if you are aware of the receiver, or of the goods given, then you have not left the mark of giving.
You should give and be as if you had not given.
If you attach to the marks
of the six sense objects, forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and mental dharmas when giving, your merit and virtue are limited
. If you fall victim to the thought, “I contributed a million dollars to a certain temple,Ÿ then all you have is a million dollars’ worth of merit. When the money runs out, so do your merit and virtue.
If you are not attached to the mark of giving
, you accrue limitless merit and virtue
, even by giving as little as a single cent.
If you fail to practice the proper method of giving,
then although you may give gifts throughout as many great kalpas as there are motes of dust, you will still have accomplished nothing
. It still has been just like boiling sand to make rice; no matter how long you cook it, it never becomes rice.
øàkyamuni Buddha used the analogy of “empty space in the ten directionsŸ to represent the extent of merit and
virtue involved in the act of giving
which is detached from the mark of giving
He said, “Subhåti, a Bodhisattva should only dwell in what is taught thus
.Ÿ A Bodhisattva who has already resolved to realize Bodhi should think of what he has thus been taught and adhere to it in cultivation.
If you remember what you have given, then I will forget it. If you can forget it, then I will keep it in mind. It is the
same with the Buddha who, knowing the hearts of all living beings, is aware that you have not forgotten the merit and virtue of your acts of giving, and so he finds it unnecessary to remember them himself. When you forget them, the Buddha remembers. Do you think it is better for you or the Buddha to remember?
You think, “I’m afraid that if I forget, the Buddha will forget, too, and then I simply will not have any merit at all.Ÿ
Never fear. If you forget about your acts of giving the Buddha will eternally remember them. As it says later in the Vajra Såtra, “All the various thoughts which occur to all living beings are completely known to the Tathàgata.Ÿ When you do good things, you remember them, but when you do bad, do you also cherish the memories? No, you try to forget your offenses immediately, yet you fondly ponder the good you have done. You should forget the good and remember the bad. Why remember the bad? So you will not do it again. Why forget the good? So you will feel the need to do more.
For those who study the Buddhadharma, every anniversary of a Buddha or Bodhisattva’s birthday, leaving home
day, enlightenment, or nirvàõa is an excellent time to make offerings to the Triple Jewel, as the meritorious virtue derived increases several thousand-fold. On the anniversary of Amitàbha Buddha’s birthday a ceremony was performed to open the light in the image of Amitàbha Buddha.
The gàthà composed for the occasion said:
Amitàbha means Limitless Light.
Today we open the light, limitless light.
Limitless light illumines limitless lands;
All living beings are limitlessly illumined.2
When one gives to the Triple Jewel on such a special day, in the Eternal Still Bright Land, Amitàbha Buddha knows a good and faithful disciple has made offerings, and the donor will receive millions of times the normal merit and virtue for such timely gifts. Those who have money can give money, those who have strength can give strength. But one should not think about it. That is genuine giving.