Today I happen to read the article “Charitable giving by country: who is the most generous?

Then this question came up. When it comes to generosity, sometimes people look at what they’ve got and they’d like to be able to give much more. They’d like to make a more impressive offering, but their means are limited. So they have to content themselves with giving limited gifts. So what do you think happens when your tank is empty, and you’ve got nothing left to give?

7 Answers 7


Upasaka Saptha Visuddhi, interested and the Tripple Gems respecting readers,

first of all this not a good article and statistic, think that it's properly build up on registered trade in charity which is far away from what is real giving in accordiance to Dhamma. For example, everybody knows that Swiss people are the most stingy peolpe in Europe and Chinese-people are for the most the most greedy people, yet they also have ways to give, or better trade.

If you "tank" is empty, than you might propably have already reached the Eightfold Path and it's good to focus now more on simply "Sila, Samadhi, Panna". Being already there, don't forget that you might have beome a person which is already a worthy field of merits and it's good to be not greedy and let now others prepare their way to follow. Having given all outwardly one is on the stage of becoming a real homeless.

When ever taking what is not given, taking for sensual lust, again, one needs to give to keep one self-esteem on a level that allows further paths and fruits.

Its not praiseworthy to encourage taking for the sake of giving and enjoyment with it.

Yet, on the other side, if still after sensuallity, it's best to turn also generosity into virture by giving service, best for those who are worthy to receive it, since help, assistance and service, Veyyāvacca (not translated into english yet) falls already like veneration, under the Sila part of the eightfold path.

Atma can only encourage again and again, support, help and dedicate what ever possible and insired to the Savaka Sangha, don't waste your goodness into throwing gold into the mud or clear water into the salty ocean. No money and material needs required at all and when even keeping 8 precepts, all time worthy of living on gifts of the country dedicated to the worthy Ones and trainees.

But there is also another point, shown in a nice story of a giving greedy Deva, Upasaka might know and remember:

Ajaan Lee "Goodness": There's another story, about an old woman who went to a monastery one day and saw that the walking meditation paths were dirty. She swept the paths clear of the dirt and rubbish, so that the monks could walk conveniently on the paths. She did it only this once, but she did it with an attitude of love, an attitude of conviction, an attitude of respect, and a pure state of mind. The dirt and rubbish had made her feel dispirited, so she swept it all away and set out water for washing the feet; as a result, her mind felt clean and refreshed. Soon after she returned home she had a heart attack. After she died she was reborn as a deva with a large following, a palace, divine food, and all kinds of abundant wealth. Living in her palace, she began to remember her previous life and thought to herself, "If I had done lots of merit, I'd be even richer than I am now. It'd be good to go back and do good things for just a little bit longer, so that I could get even more abundant results than what I have now.... (story further, invited to follow link)

So it might be that real good monks will not give in to your desire to make more merits not really conductive for the path but simply for this or that being and becoming.

And this is the point, Upasaka thought already about this the last days intensively, why you hang around here and waste you precious Gems, yet even possible to dedicate it there where it might bear real benefical fruits. No more demanding from a certain sociaty there is no more dept to pay.

Atma has to thing on Upasaka Lals story about his teacher. Others then most western or todays "teacher", who use the Sangha and the tripple Gems right from the beginning to accumulate depts and demerits, having learned on generosity, lived on it, then even lay down the robe and make bussiness in teaching Dhamma as a "tradition destroying" Layperson enjoying sensuality and even take alms as well, he was a lay teacher and seemingly with time his Dhamma eye really opened and then there is no other way if possible, to live the holly live, ordained and also his family followed. This is a great story and shows the way it works and worthy to follow this foodsteps, since the others, having been giving goodness and step by step making a livelihood out of that, what do they do aside of distroying their old goodness and damaging the possibility of many in doing so.

Since Upasaka is actually well versed in Dhamma, but might only have lacked of straight forward advices, he might find enough food for thoughts and my person trusts that he do not only make the best choices for him and for the benefit of all his dears around him but also that he finds the way to real happiness with ease by him self.

Where else can someone arive having followed good deeds and the words by the wise, ones merits receive one here or their like old lost good friends where ever one goes. Theis neither fear nor lack of anything for such a person.

Let mt person now share the The Analogy of the Fire-Worshipper at the end, since Danā alone at least just increases the corpses, death and suffering in this world:

The acquisition of merit now aimed at prolonging existence in the future will lead to the same fate. The burdensome tasks that one undertakes to support one’s present existence are no different either. All these efforts merely serve as fuel for the fire of death. This is to impress upon you the futility of all human efforts, however meritorious, aimed at the continuation of existence. (Read more following the link and ariving in the wisdom division of the path)


An possible extended answer, as well as possibility to ask further and discuss, can be found here, invited, given and welcome: [Q&A] What happens when your tank is empty, and you’ve got nothing left to give?

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other wordily gains]


It's not really about what you give, it 's about what you give up. What you let go.

We can always give love. We can always send lovingkindness and compassion.

We can give to ourselves if it is from the heart. Love yourself by loving all beings. Free yourself by loving all beings. When you love yourself in a virtuous way, you see yourself as you humbly see everyone.

Anyway, If your tank is empty for giving then remember there are 7 other parts of the eightfold path other than giving that can be practiced by monastics and laypeople. -m e t t a


It's not about giving.. if you can live with good thoughts that's enough. You can give a little water to a thirsty animal, that's also a great thing. Keep your mind clean and good. Don't make your giving a competition with others. Read the following Dharma Padaya.

"Manopubbangama dhamma
manosettha manomaya
manasa ce pasannena
bhasati va karoti va
tato nam sukha manveti
chayava anapayini."

All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness (sukha) follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.

Watch the following video for more of this answer: The poor man asking Buddha "Why am I so poor?"


When the tank attains emptiness (sunnata), the Dhamma is given because no amount of giving money can bring enlightenment. To quote what the Gautama Supreme Buddha allegedly taught:

This is the best of gifts: the gift of Dhamma...to arouse, instil and strengthen wisdom in the unwise...the bestowal of equity: if a stream-winner becomes equal to a stream-winner; a once-returner equal to a once-returner; a non-returner equal to a non-returner; and an arahant equal to an arahant. This, monks, is called the power of benevolence. AN 9.5


As long as you are a normal human, you have many things to give, which money cannot buy such as simple act of kindness. For example:

  • Simple smile
  • Save a drowning ant
  • Spare a life of a small insect.
  • Live with a good heart
  • Follow the 5 precepts (it doesn't cost a single penny)

You do not have to be Bill Gates and start up a foundation and do mass offerings. This will bring in enormous amounts of good karma. But what we have to realize is, such good karma will take us to heaven and sometimes even blind us from the truth of life and put us back to hell.

Good karma can be run out one day and hence it is impermanent. Any deed done with the hope of good karma to take you to heaven will take you to heaven. But it will end and take you back to hell. Good Karma is like fire, you need it in life but it can also destroy you completely.

The danger is even though you have helped billions of lives during your lifetime but the last dying moment, if you happen to think of your family, or your house, or even a temple, or anything impermanent out of attachment or greed or whatever, you will be born again in a hell or as a divine being (deva). True, if you are in a heaven, it is great, but like I said it is impermanent and there is chance you falling back to the hell.

What you need to do is to see that everything in the world is impermanent. Lord Buddha's body Itself was impermanent (He lived, and He passed away). That is the type of world we live in. Attachment to worldly things will bring you temporary happiness and will get you to suffering and it will keep going endlessly. You need to understand that and accept death is coming your way for sure. Be prepared for it. Do good, things I mentioned. Not multi million dollar offerings. Simple things.

If you understand this and follow it, and in your last dying moment you happen to think of these good things you did, and then you happen to think that even the good karma you got is impermanent like everything else in the world, then you are on your way to enlightenment.

This is what Buddhism is about, not just do good and end up in heaven and do vice-versa and end up in hell.


I came across this storey in the article titled "The Stairway Up":

Sometimes the little gifts bring the greatest reward. Ajaan Fuang liked to tell the story of a man and his wife who had only one upper cloth between them. They each had a cloth to cover the lower parts of their bodies, but only one cloth between them to cover the upper parts of their bodies. That was back in the days in India when you didn’t go out of your house unless you had two pieces of cloth around you: one wrapped around your waist, the other over your shoulders. Because they only had one upper cloth between them, they’d have to leave the house at separate times. If one was going out, the other had to stay at home. They were that poor.

One night they heard that the Buddha was going to be giving a talk, so they agreed that the husband should be the one to go. The talk was basically on the rewards of generosity. The husband kept sitting there thinking, “This is why I’m so poor. I haven’t been generous. What have I got to give? Nothing. All I have is this one cloth, and if I give this I won’t be able to go anywhere. But if I don’t give this, what can I give? I won’t be able to give anything at all.” So he battled back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in his mind for hours, and the Buddha, noting what was going on, just kept on talking and talking on generosity. It was originally supposed to be a short Dhamma talk, but it went on and on and on until midnight. The king was in the audience, lots of people were in the audience, and they were wondering why the Dhamma talk was going on for so long.

Finally around midnight the man stood up shouting, “Victory! Victory!” He had overcome his stinginess. He was going to give the cloth to the Buddha, so he went down and gave the cloth. People in the audience wondered who this was, and why he was shouting “Victory.” When they learned of his poverty, they were very impressed. The king said, “Okay, I’ll give him another cloth and other things in addition”—a cloth and a horse and an elephant, all kinds of stuff. One of each.

And because the man was on a roll, a generosity roll, he gave all those things to the Buddha, too. So the king upped the ante—gave him two of each. The man gave all of that. The king kept doubling: four, eight, finally sixteen. At that point the man decided to keep eight of each of these things—eight pieces of gold, eight pieces of silver, eight pieces of cloth, eight horses, eight elephants. He gave the other eight to the Buddha and went home with his remaining eight. The lesson of the story is that a small gift by a person of little means translates into a lot more in terms of its rewards than a large gift from someone of large means, because the first gift requires more of a sacrifice.


Giving offering to animal, human being, a person with sila, a person of four Arya (sotapanna etc), to Buddha, dedicated to whole Sangha, giving metta, having insight meditation all these are stepwise higher degree of dana, while noting matter(rupa) during insight meditation, 500 millions deeds just in a wink of time one got dana merit, while noting mind(nama) during insight meditation, one billion deeds just in a wink of time one got dana merit, topmost dana, unsurpassable dana, dhamma dana, Buddha and arahant used to praise such dana. How can the tank ever be empty or nothing left to give?

  • 1
    With paranibbana, nyom, with paranibbana. And no more need to give anything , having given all what is not onesback, for an Arahat, work done nothing further for this world.
    – user11235
    May 20, 2017 at 5:35

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