Today morning, while browsing certain virtual Dhamma-places, the thought came into my persons mind: "Indeed, there are seldom people who give without out expecting anything, food (for good thoughts), clothes (accounts), shelter (space), and medicin (assistanes to exist further) for long life and comfortable existence, shelter and help for the Dhamma and long time welfare for many. What if I ask about the secound kind of seldom people in this world, to bring this also into attention?" Now having taken time for following that thought, my person likes to ask:

What would be the proper way to pay back goodness done to one?

What kind of ways are there, to do so?

What are the stages of being grateful, in accordiance to right view and ones personal circumstances?

...when we make use of facilities, time, sacrifies... of others.

Has done much

"These three persons have done much to a person. Which three? The person gone to whom this person takes refuge in the Enlightenment, in the Teaching and the Community of bhikkhus.

"The person gone to whom this person knows as it really is, this is unpleasant, this is the arising of unpleasantness, this is the cessation of unpleasantness and this is the path leading to the cessation of unpleasantness.

"Again, the person gone to whom, this person destroys desires, releases the mind and released through wisdom, here and now abides having realized. These three persons have done much to this person.

"It is not possible that these three persons could be thoroughly repaid with gratitude, by this person revering him, attending on him, clasping hands towards him and honouring him with robes, morsel food, dwellings and medicinal requisites."

May you like to let remembering words of Dhamma but also you most inner heart try to give an good answer.

(Note: This question is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purposes or other wordily gains)

2 Answers 2


I think that a typically Buddhist recommendation is that you try to be "easy to support". For example if someone tries to do you a kindness (for example, by offering you food), then you're "easy to support" if you accept what's offered without making further, difficult demands.

Another example of being "easy to support" might mean being inoffensive and harmless (although arguably everyone should try to be so anyway, not only when repaying a kindness).

That said, I'm not sure that I agree with the premise of the question (that you should "pay back" goodness). I thought that kindness isn't necessarily supposed to be transactional: for example, monks don't sell Dharma. So when lay people support monks, and monks support lay people, I'm not sure this ought to be viewed as "paying back".

A fairly widespread (not necessarily only Buddhist) alternative to "paying back" is called paying forward. That means, if someone is kind to you, then you "return" that favour by being kind to someone else!

"Paying forward" is a famous concept, at least on the internet: it's mentioned in one of this site's help topics, for example:

Pay it forward

Saying “thanks” is appreciated, but it doesn’t answer the question. Instead, vote up the answers that helped you the most! If these answers were helpful to you, please consider saying thank you in a more constructive way – by contributing your own answers to questions your peers have asked here.

As an idea it's perhaps not incompatible with Buddhist ideals.

  • Sadhu for some parts, especially at the beginning. Starting with the sentenses of doubt, maybe consider in trust "nothing is for free" althought it is often different introduced, of course a subtile seller advertising. Appreciating is a good deed and of course gives back, nurishes good, if based on right judgement, if not, it starves it nd is even unskilful. So it is very needed to give here info of who appreciated because amout is mostly misleading, since not so wise will be always more. Thanks, how ever, can be simply of personal preverances and is a good pay back in every sphere. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 14:52
  • To give an additional hint in regard of free: the matter that somebody might be really able to give his own without any demand (eg. an Arahat for example), here the Dhamma, mentioned, does not mean for the receiver to accumulate depts in receiving it or making use of it. So also goid here to divide the single acts individual, not forming a illusional "objectivenes" around it. Receiving a gift from a person tend to Nibbana, by heart, will cause to be pulled into its direction unavidable. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 14:56

I will start with talking about giving and then address your question about receiving.

In the Tibetan tradition, they have Jinpa or giving of which there are considered to be four kinds: 1

  1. DAK KI DUN CHIR or Giving for your own benefit.

    Giving to inanimate objects, temple, etc. No recipient benefits. It is of benefit only to get results in the desire realm (samsara). Two types of people do this: those who aren't free from desire for the desire realm or those in deep meditation free of the desire realm.

  2. SHEN DUN CHIR or Giving for the benefit of others.

    No benefit to the giver; other for benefit doing it only to help others and not themselves. Aryas do this, when those who have seen selflessness give to ordinary people. Don't wish for a result in the desire realm

  3. NYI KAY DUN CHIR or Benefit both self and other by giving.

    Giver wants result of desire realm and the recipient receives desire realm giving.

  4. NYIKAY MIN CHIR or Neither benefit by giving.

    A Buddha giving to another Buddha to honor them.

These four are ordered (generally there are exceptions) from "worst" to "best" where 4 is the most powerful kind of giving. At first glance, this seems paradoxical. How can neither benefiting from giving be the best?

Let's use this site as an example to clarify point 4 : We can imagine a world where two Buddhas are on this site pretending to be mortals and spreading the Dharma, one asks a question knowing the answer and the other answers. While doing this giving (In this case they would also be giving to the readers of this site) they are aware of the emptiness of the gift, the emptiness of the giver, and the emptiness of the receiver. In the lecture, it is described as kind of like a game for them. They give such wondrous gifts to each other even though neither really needs the gifts. They give without attachment or expectation of reward. So no matter the result, downvotes, upvotes, being a featured question on the site, having the question deleted by moderators, they would not be swayed in one way or another.

As for receiving the lecture speaks about expressing gratitude and accepting the giving. It also speaks that if accepting the gift with the idea of emptiness of the gift in mind it helps both you and the giver.

There are several bodhisattva vows that go along with receiving gifts; for example: 2

  1. selfishly not accepting invitations due to pride, the wish to hurt other’s feelings or anger or laziness
  2. not accepting others’ gift out of jealousy, anger etc or simply to hurt others

There is also #39 which speaks of repaying kindnesses done to one. Like taking care of your parents in old age. In fact, someone who has taken this vow would break it if they did not help someone who had helped them if it was in their power to do so... there are certain exceptions.

Those who have not taken such a vow might be fine with just accepting a gift and being grateful.

Another quick point to hit on is that it is possible to be grateful and resentful at the same time. like for instance if someone gives you a book you want, but they did not give you the special edition with the bonus commentary. You might be grateful for the book but ask yourself "Why did they not get me the special edition it was only 50 cents more" This type of thought when receiving, comparing your gift with others, wanting a better gift, etc. is a hinderance at least, and greatly harmful at most. It stems from a root of desire and not a root of gratitude.

Footnotes (sources):

  1. ACI course 5 class 10 NOTES or AUDIO LECTURE
  • What are your own good reflected thoughts, given not clinging on ideas of emptiness hellyale? What does conscious saw if listening to the heart carefully? Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 16:10
  • @SamanaJohann sorry I am not sure what you are asking/mean with that comment
    – hellyale
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 16:11
  • Exactly what was asked, not more not less, Hellyale. What does conscious say if listening to the heart carefully? (Saw that the was a typ mistake) Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 16:14

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