I came across this explanation by Buddha, from the Dana Mahapphala Sutta.

THE BEST WAY TO GIVE. Or, instead of thinking, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it calms my mind. Satisfaction and joy arise,’ he makes a gift, thinking, ‘This is an adornment for the mind, a support for the mind.’

I couldn't understand the statement. How does one do this? What should be the state of mind when gifting? When does one start to give gift? Does one have to wait till one's moral conduct is good and has insight?

8 Answers 8


Giving material things has the purpose to learn letting go, to give up what one assumes to be his own. It's actually not an easy training and very less are really able to give. People usually give like trade, sometimes even a hug farmer joyful feeds his pigs. Neither he nor the pigs have much merits and gains in this way.

When ever you come in a situation "he/she does not have, I have" than just think of "why do I not give" if you don't do it automatically yet.

Even a short delay, listening to the defilements and you have lost:

Verse 116: One should make haste in doing good deeds; one should restrain one's mind from evil; for the mind of one who is slow in doing good tends to take delight in doing evil.

The Story of Culekasataka

It's not good to train this training for certain wordily low purposes: To reach this, to control that, to actually feed what is ones own again, or objected as such, which is mostly the case if you give somebody you are attached to. You are not really giving, but do for certain higher or lower gains.

A support for the mind means, release for the mind. If one really gives up something, the mind do no more hold on it. Whereas if you give something for your joy with it, it still clings on something and would be sad if that joy would be disturbed.

How ever, there are times and occasions where gifts are proper given, so that one has a line to follow and a security to do not unaware foster backyard defilements: Kaladana Sutta: Seasonable Gifts

Atma would not recommend Piya Tan in regard of such issues, since he has certain wrong views and does not understand the training of letting go yet.

A general overview of Dana you may find on the Path to Freedom and if you seek for more "technical" explaining Abhidhamma in Daily Life, by Ashin Janakanbhivamsa [pdf] (or online, switch language) is recommended. How ever, the best way to find out and learn is always doing by one self and by doing it, looking what's going on in oneself, what are the hindrances, what are the results. Is a practice that needs certain mindfulness and wisdom and to maintain and develop such. There are really less people, especially in modern world, who can be even called slaves of Dana (doing it for the great joy by giving), not to speak of people who are masters of Dana, may they have trained (or thought that they do) meditation for many many years, most have not even started to work on the gross defilement, so greedy are they. Yet stinginess is an obstacle fo even reach any Jhanic state...

Here is one useful talk: Sensitivity through generosity. It's not out of reason that the Buddha tells: association with people of right view, joy in giving, hostility, sharing merits... is the foundation for success to gain right view for oneself, yet it requires much sacrify to even come in contact with such people, stay with them.

(Note: this answer has not been given with the agreement to be means of trade or the purpose of/for trade and/or keep people trapped and bound. How you handle it lies in your sphere, but does not excuse the deed here either.)


In the definition of Parikkhāra I'm drawn to the second meaning, i.e.,

(b) In a special sense and in very early use it refers to the "set of necessaries" of a Buddhist monk & comprises the 4 indispensable instruments of a mendicant, enumd in stock phrase "cīvara -- piṇḍapāta -- senāsana -- gilānapaccayabhesajja -- p." i. e. robe, alms -- bowl, seat & bed, medicine as help in illness. Thus freq. found in Canon, e. g. at Vin iii.132; D iii.268; S iv.288, 291; Nd2 523 (as 1st part of "yañña"); also unspecified, but to be understood as these 4 (different Vin Texts iii.343 which take it to mean the 8 requisites: see below) at Vin ii.267. -- Later we find another set of mendicants' requisites designated as "aṭṭha parikkhārā," the 8 requirements. They are enumd in verse at J i.65= DA i.206, viz. ticīvaraŋ, patto, vāsi, sūci, (kāya -- ) bandhanaŋ, parissāvana, i. e. the 3 robes, the bowl, a razor, a needle, the girdle, a water -- strainer. They are expld in detail DA i.206 sq. Cp. also J iv.342 (aṭṭhaparikkhāra -- dhara); v.254 (kāyabandhana -- parissāvanasūci -- vāsi -- satthakāni; the last -- named article being "scissors" instead of a razor); DhA ii.61 (˚dhara thera).

So not "adornment", like 'decoration', but rather "requisite" or "necessity" or perhaps "tool" or sine qua non.

So I think it's saying, "give with the understanding that the giving is necessary for the mind" (instead of for example, "give with the hope of getting something, like 'calmness', in return").


I asked myself the same question. This sutta Buddha told ven. Sariputta reasons why people give gifts and results from that foundation. i cross reference checked where else Buddha mentioned "ornament of mind" but couldn't find any that explains the word in different way or example of people who gave gifts as ornament of mind, or even example of Bramaha God who gave gifts in such a way when he was in this world.
"adornment (or ornament) of mind is not the same thing as gift of mine is given, it calms my mind. Satisfaction and joy arise". They are in two separate categories. it might have been lost in translation somewhere. I personally believe giving as an ornament of mind is when you gift to reduce a feeling of self, mine, or belong. Like when you feel a penny in your pocket is yours, so you give it away to reduce or even eliminate the feeling of "my penny". my opinion.
from danna sutta 7 reasons why people give gifts and results:

  • Giving gifts and want something in return, after death, he reappears in the company of the Four Great Kings and then return to the world.
  • Giving gifts because it's a good thing, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Thirty-three and then return to the world.
  • Giving gifts because of tradition, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Hours and then return to the world.
  • Giving gifts because because wanting to help those in need, after death, he reappears in the company of the Contented Devas and then return to the world.
  • Giving gifts just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who delight in creation and then return to the world. (there is no further explanation of this category by Buddha.)
  • Giving gifts because it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who have power over the creations of others and then return to the world.

And lastly, your question:

  • Giving gifts as an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind' , after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma's Retinue. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.
  • i agree with Sama Johann, giving as ornament of mind is letting go of things.
    – user5056
    Jan 20, 2016 at 16:27
  • i cross reference checked where else Buddha mentioned "ornament of mind" but couldn't find any -- see footnote 6 on the first page of this PDF referring to Cittâlakra,citta,parikkhr’attha -- and here is the PTS dictionary definition for Parikkhāra
    – ChrisW
    Jan 20, 2016 at 17:26
  • 1
    i should have said, "mentioned or explained in other sutta in a different way." Same thing as you help me out before with vibhava thanha, it is too mentioned in many suttas but in a same way and we only understand it in a sense of definition of the word or explanation by someone else which isnt confirmed by Buddha. Unlike some other words like "anatta", buddha mentioned it in different ways, give different supportive examples etc. "ornament of mind" appears in a few sutta but in a same way, there is no explanation of it or example of any contemporary disciple who gave gift this way.
    – user5056
    Jan 20, 2016 at 17:49
  • In the PDF quoted in the OP, Piya Tan seems willing to translate it as "calm" -- he wrote, need some level of mastery in calm [“adornment”] and insight [“support”] -- I guess possibly because according to the PTS dictionary entry it's also used in the expression, samādhiparikkhārā.
    – ChrisW
    Jan 20, 2016 at 18:05
  • 1
    yes. thats why i think it might be a lost in translation somewhere. Because according to what Buddha told Ven Sarriputta, giving for calm, gratification & joy arise is not in the same as category as ornament of mind.
    – user5056
    Jan 20, 2016 at 18:19

There are two main pints two your question, And Lord Buddha directly answered both of those and here is the extended answer.....

  • What is the correct detachment?

An example from lord Buddha......

One day the king visited Lord Buddha in an unlikely hour, So Lord Buddha asked why. King replied "Today the richest noble in my kingdom died, he has no offspring so i went to his house to claim his wealth to my treasury. I just finished that and came to see the fortunate one."

The king continued "That man never wore any good clothes and he never enjoyed any luxury, he ate like a poor man. Today seeing his immense wealth i am in a question lord. Why does someone live like this having so much wealth and never loosing it?"

Lord Buddha Told him the earlier life story which gained the diseased noble the karma to be a noble in this life. As Lord Buddha explained even though he managed to give up he could not be happy afterwards and second guessed the decision to donate.

Then Lord Buddha explained why it happened..... "The noble was able to give in his earlier life so he received nobility and wealth but he could not keep his mind from regretting that decision.Because of that he could not enjoy the wealth he owned."

So the simpler explanation is that one must give happily with detachment and he or she must keep the happiness of giving before giving,while giving and even afterwards. That is the correct detachment.

  • What is the most noble giving?

Lord Buddha gave a direct answer to that question...

The most noble giving of all is giving "Dhamma (the teaching of lord Buddha)."

The reason is, any other gift even education is only good for one life and afterwards it does not help anyone. But the teaching takes living ones away from the danger of "Samsara" and gives them refuge for life times to come and even complete freedom from samsara.


There are 2 parts here

  • ornament of the mind
  • support of the mind

I would think ornament of the mind means to develop Beautiful Consciousness (Sobana). Develop Initial and Sustained contemplation on your action developing Calm. Do it with Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha. This way convert your citta into a Great Wholesome Mind (mahā-kusala cittas).

I think supporting the mind is if the Mind is Prompted (this includes when you hold yourself back due to laziness or attachment) make it into an Unprompted mind. Being Unprompted means you you have to guard your mind so if does not get disheartened after giving. Reinforce your understanding of Karma so your Mind is a Mind with the Right View. Also ensure defilements not arise and also keep redeveloping new wholesome thoughts by concentrating on the Gift and the Brahmavihara furthering the state and intensity of your volition and mind. Also developing wisdom by contemplating on the feelings (arising and passing and the unsatisfactoriness in the feelings and the non self nature of the experience or what is felt) associated with the object, the recipient, what prompted the volition to give and how the recipient received it.

An interesting read would be UNRAVELLING the MYSTERIES of MIND & BODY through ABHIDHAMMA by Sayalay Susila, page 8 - 10.


At the end of sutta, said that the last dāna-method, your quote, is dāna of anāgāmi-ariya:

with the body’s breaking up, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma’s Retinue. Then, having exhausted that karma, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.

So, in this sutta's commentary said:

"an adornment for the mind, a support for the mind" means a support for concentration-meditation-mind and insight-meditation-mind.

Because, anāgāmi-ariya completely & perfectly escaped five strands of sensuality, kāma-attachment, so his attachment in his gift can't arise anymore, too, because gift is five strands. So, dāna in the last method are the best, because it is giving as alike as anāgāmi-ariya's and arahanta-ariya's giving. These two ariya just give for meditation, mind development.

To understand tipitaka deeply, reciting & memorizing tipitaka are strongly required.


Bhikkhu Sujato's translation for AN 7.52:

They don’t give a gift thinking, ‘When giving this gift my mind becomes clear, and I become happy and joyful.’ But they give a gift thinking, ‘This is an adornment and requisite for the mind.’ They give to ascetics or brahmins such things as food, drink, clothing, vehicles; garlands, fragrance, and makeup; and bed, house, and lighting. What do you think, Sāriputta, don’t some people give gifts in this way?” “Yes, sir.”

“Sāriputta, someone who gives gifts, not for any other reason, but thinking, ‘This is an adornment and requisite for the mind’, when their body breaks up, after death, is reborn among the gods of Brahmā’s Host. When that deed, success, fame, and sovereignty is spent they are a non-returner; they do not return to this state of existence.

It's clear that in one case, reward is expected (‘When giving this gift my mind becomes clear, and I become happy and joyful.’)

In the other case, reward is not expected, and giving the gift is simply treated as a requisite (or support or tool) for the mind.

The Pali words here are "citta ālaṅkāra citta parikkhāraṃ". "parikkhāra" is translated as support or requisite, while "ālaṅkāra" is translated as adornment.

Why adornment? Adornment makes something more beautiful. There is a reference to beauty in Ajaniya Sutta, which equates beauty of mind to virtue:

"And how is a monk consummate in beauty? There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Patimokkha, consummate in his behavior & sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest fault. This is how a monk is consummate in beauty.

So, this means that giving a gift makes the mind virtuous. The purpose of virtue is in AN 10.1.


As i understand it decisions

associated with concern associated with sympathy associated with appreciation associated with compassion

are conducive to the proper development of what can be wrongly grasped to be a one's own and what can be wrongly grasped to be a one's own by another .

results of these decisions are associated with non-ill will, non cruelty, concern and sympathy to what can be wrongly grasped to be a one's self and what can be wrongly grasped to be a one's own by another.

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