I can see how generosity and gratitude are important as means to foster right resolve. But what if someone do good things sometimes due a sense of obligation, but also cause much harm to you? For example, this mother. Given that our resources and gains are limited, it is not much better to support the virtuous one rather than the unvirtuous?

And in the case of supporting the unvirtuous and unwise, how this would not contradict others teachings like "do not associate with fools" and "give a gift in a proper time"? (a unwise person would surely use a material gift unwisely causing harm for himself/herself and others).

6 Answers 6


Right resolve/intention(Samma Sankappa) has 3 parts:

  1. Nekkhamma Sankappa - thoughts of renunciation
  2. Avyapada Sankappa - thoughts of non-hate
  3. Avihimsa Sankappa - thoughts of non-cruelty

So as you can see, giving material things is not really required to foster the right resolve. You just have to make sure you don't hate people and you are not cruel towards anyone. Whenever you get irritated, do Metta meditation. Whenever you feel happy about someone's misfortune, do Karuna meditation.

This is not to say that you shouldn't be generous. Just that one does not need to waste time and resources over lost causes when there are smarter ways to practice generosity & gratitude.

  • Here we go, the dance of defilements and stinginess: incapable of Jhana , path and fruits, stingyness is the quality of common people. Wonder how 1,2,3 can be justified honestly by someone would have a lot to give and share among needed, desiring... as even 1,2,3: defilments and basic greed are as this. They say: "don't waste yojr time, better use it to care all with you and enjoy it" :-) Feb 12, 2018 at 23:52
  • I never said one has to be stingy or one shouldn't give. Feb 13, 2018 at 2:16
  • Sure...!? Always good to be a smart one "when there are smarter ways to practice generosity & gratitude", they are beloved, and doinate industry. Why not taking both, Mara suggests. Feb 13, 2018 at 2:48
  • 1
    Being generous in a smart way is always better than trying it in stupid ways Feb 13, 2018 at 2:59
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    Giving that benefits both you and the recipient. That is smart. Feb 13, 2018 at 3:10

"Monks, these two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful for a kindness done and feels obligated to repay it. These two people are hard to find in the world." ...and more on lessons of gratitude

Danilo, your observations are totally right in regard one has already a broader view and the question is a good and useful one to understand things better. But & Because: Yet most people are not even able to fullfil their duties (break silas and do not take what is not give, or pay the price, hold to promises) and stay to contracts (virtue) in relation of sensuallity (material things and reverence). The next higher stage then is toward more selfless giving of material things. So even if most made in this way, it's useless to build a tower on a muddy baseless place and one needs to start where the mud is places, do the hard and "dirty", painful job, first.

Above the first gods (those giving birth, parents), if those are recognised, one can walk on to the higher goods, , those introducing, nurishing this the four needs (food, shelter, cloth, medicine), those teaching, leading to heaven and then even to liberation.

If the base is not done, e.g. not even obligation as reward of sensuality is recognices and duties payed off, if even parents are not put on the right scale, there is no way to ever develope that much freedom to be able to interact and receive on a higher scale. One makes nothing but more and more debts on this way, in all directions, even if feeling released by certain thought constructs.

It's maybe importand to understand that parents can aside of being the first gods be also the higherst. Some are that gifted, some even recognice it.

The issue of giving and the issue of duties (sila) which also may include giving is not that easy understood. Sometimes giving is a deal for expected gain, sometimes a required obligation for a relation (deal), sometime a payment for release seldom really generosity and it is gain and again worthy to note that the treasure of real generosity is only gained by a person of integrity, e.g. comes after perfection of silas.

Most not even managed in regard of giving at large plays all in the section of sila, starting from proper veneration to service and assistance.

What the proper places for generosity are, for all being, regardless of relation, nice or bad, is mentioned in timely giving and is of course always excelled by Noble Ones and those train for it.

It's very difficult to make western or better modern people basics (at least right view) understandable because they are not at all used to generosity, feelings of obligation, gratitude... but raised in a society, if good, where all has a to be payed marked price, and no, really no, neither at home, nor at school, good basic conducts are trained.

For defilements even a pleasure to here that giving to immoral people is not conductive, yet they would not include the own person when making their greedy excuses to deny even obligations.

May person once had a longer discussion with a typical western Buddhist and it might be of use, even the place itself there is not one to advice for a good. The topics discussion and links may explain certain basics and misunderstandings: Dana (Generosity, Charity) "Abhidhamma in daily life "

To understand guṇā (best transated as "giver" or "benefactor") here are also some explaining. Usually translated as goodness or "people of goodness", it's meaning starts by the sense organs and is then used for goodness making real sense and beyound: guṇā គុណ - Gönner, Verbindubg/Band | benefactor, string/bound (just in German, if one like to translate, feel given)

It's impossible to walk a spiritual way if not having placed all benefactors on the right place in the heart at a matter that even most modern or western monks are not able to get fixed. At least it's underlying right view and becoming a person of integrity, either on faith, Dhamma or by entering the stream to get really ride of macchariya which only Noble ones, but right from the beginning are free from. If that and gratitude is still a problem, don't even think on Jhanas or any attainments: impossible.

Since those basic topics are merelt tabu and not welcome at all, leading even most to anger and aversion, the so called buddhist community in the west and modern world is merely just a wellness and trade branch and not really a source of real attainments at all, does not even have any basic positiv effects in normal live and sociaty which can be easy observed everywhere.

But back to a many helpful "classification" of worthyness in regard of people or relations, of course not really possible to distinguished in a very firm way, but merely an orientation and a source to think and reflect more about it:

A raw ranking based on it, in regard of worthy (general, can differ in cases aside of Noble Ones):

  • Ordinary beings

  • Ordinary people

  • Ordinary beings hungry, lacking existencial needs

  • Normal friends and wordily fellows

  • Normal elders

People of goodness:

  • Wordily teachers

  • Ones family and relatives

  • Ones first goods, parents

  • People keeping 5 precepts

  • People keeping 8 pr.

  • People keeping 10 precepts

  • Homeless 10 precepts

  • Samanera

  • Young Bhikkhu

  • Full Bhikkhu

  • Thera

  • Maha Thera

Ecxeled by innwardly qualities, case by case:

  • wordlings

  • Layperson following the training (still enjoys sensuality)

  • Recluse/monastic following the training (still enjoying sensual pleasure)

  • Layperson living the wholly life in full, following the Arahats

  • Recluse/monastic living the wholly live full, following the Arahats

  • Noble One 1. Path winner

    1. Fruit Winner..2, 3, 4 Patg winner
  • Arahat

  • Buddha

In regard of Noble Ones, Recluse excels Lay person.

At least, not as a demand or just to belittle but as a matter of generosity and compassion, Danilo, so that you may have more ease and more doors to good places open in future, to train youself in good conduct, is actually not respectfull, not praisworthy and possible for the most cases a hard hindrance to ask indirect, without reverence and yes of course in certain equal manner. So for normal and strict holding on secure ways, Danilo might not only get any useful answer but also be known, like many, as someone with less virtues not at all worthy of gifts. But again, that is just for you and others grow, being aware that good conduct and proper behaviour is something unknown an utopistic in the modern and internet realms.

One might feel free to go into the topic even deeper or to train here, on a given and more proper place. At least most might be really wasted giving, as mentioned in the question, yet for those possible to get healed still.

How to foster generosity and gratitude?

  • Again and formost: association with people of integrity and generosity, gratefull people, people rejocing in deeds of giving and devotion, able to share merits and encourage to such and by avoiding places and people not used to, the usuall "cool" ones, like poison.

  • Rendering service and assistance in monasteries, for monks, for elders, teacher, virtuous. (e.g. practice Silas and pay obligations proper back or even without hope of reward)

  • Practice generosity where ever there is a possibility.

  • Learn to great, address, pay respect and good verbal and bodily conduct and use it everywhere, whether usual or not (it also helps to cut of "enemies" for prosperty)

  • Get used and train youself in all of the ten kinds of merit-making.

  • Stick to right view, even it goes against all grains and let it be adviser for your daily action rather to let your defilements make use of transcend right view while still living next a punch of fetters and a refrigerator.

He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. [He thinks,] 'May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!' He has right view and is not warped in the way he sees things: 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is how one is made pure in three ways by mental action."

Once, again, right view is adopted by faith, certain vision or even clear seen and gained, generosity, after virtue and gratitude proper and right placed is no more a matter at all. At this point, not out of reason, one is incapable to do grave, even deliberated misconduct and behave improper.

May it be for release and ease, who ever might be capable to take, make use and understand.

And be carefull, it's not free and not without strings and one might be already hardly caught, with no chance to fall back any more!

  1. Bahukārasuttaṃ

Has done much

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

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

"Bhikkhus, 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."

Of course very useful and in same value Utopia: Opening the Door to the Dhamma: Respect in Buddhist Thought & Practice

The orderline duties » sila » generosity ... from the gross to the fine, can btw. be also traced likewise, as tried to point out at the beginning, in the Mangala Sutta and at each level of fullfilment or able to renounce certain relation and it's benefits, debts are growing void and giving is step by step growing to real generosity and compassion. Once a state around the stanca 6. and 7 is reached, no more falling back will accur for one.


[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

  • Thanks for such detailed answer. I will read carefully and eventually use sangham.net for further inquire if necessary.
    – Danilo
    Feb 12, 2018 at 20:00

In Buddhism, there is the Pali term for gratitude, namely, 'katannukatavedi', which means: 'what others do for me; what I must do in return'. If others have not done anything good towards you, there is little one must do in return.

'Katannukatavedi' is similar to 'mudita' (appreciative joy), which is rejoicing in the good deeds of others. If others have not done good deeds, 'mudita' cannot be generated.

A problem with the question is many do not realize the gravity of the crime of using a daughter for prostitution because, it has been demonstrated on this chatsite, that some members believe prostitution is not a destructive thing to the soul of a woman; even though the Lord Buddha taught:

Unchastity is the taint in a woman

Dhp 242

To quote a supporter of prostitution:

The business of prostitution is however, in most Buddhist countries and people there by large not so negatively discriminated like in monotheistic countries. There is still a more "liberal" view, just another kind of trade.

This liberality in that regard is displayed by the Buddha and followed correct in the quoted sutta.

Famouse prostitutes:

Vimala, the former courtesan: Thig 5.2

Ambapali, Ven. Sister (formerly the courtesan): DN 16, Thig 13.1

How did Buddhism and Hinduism differ in their approaches to sex work

Therefore, it would be expected such a supporter of prostitution would expect a daughter to be grateful towards her mother for starting the daughter's career in prostitution; similar to the daughter of a doctor who encouraged the daughter's career in medicine. However, a daughter with Right View could never be grateful to their mother for a career in prostitution because the Lord Buddha said:

‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a wished for, desired, agreeable result could be produced from bodily misconduct...from verbal misconduct...from mental misconduct ― there is no such possibility.’

It is impossible, it cannot happen that a person engaging in bodily misconduct...engaging in verbal misconduct...engaging in mental misconduct could on that account, for that reason, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world ― there is no such possibility.’

MN 115

  • You mean like a drug edicted is grateful toward the dealer, an extremist toward a leader, certain Buddhists toward Buddhadasa? Yes, such happens, but the case is more about ingratitude toward a therapeutic of an edicted. So maybe wrong grasped the issue, aside of the matter. Who would like that one becomes another dealer or Dasa just for a favor? And it's to expect, yes, that people will easy become similar that they honor, yet gratitude has it's levels and like and owe are different things. It would be not proper for a disciple even of a Dasa, to give not proper amount of gratitude,yet people Feb 13, 2018 at 0:03
  • If others have not done good deeds, 'mudita' cannot be generated. I'm sorry to contradict, but are you sure of that? I thought maybe everyone does (some) good deeds, if only you were willing to view them that way (and, that one should be willing to view them that way). The Punna Sutta may be an (extreme) example of that, where he insists on seeing the Sunaparanta people as "civilized, very civilized".
    – ChrisW
    Feb 13, 2018 at 10:18
  • Chris. You are starting to use the comments section to preach, as though you are a Buddha. The Punna Sutta is merely a story & even if it is true, it is a superhuman effort. Why don't you personally go to Washington DC and convert the people so to bring peace to the world? Feb 13, 2018 at 11:24
  • I don't know, I think the proper function of a comment is to "request clarification or leave constructive criticism", I posted because (just) that one sentence contradicts what I thought I'd learned from the suttas, so maybe you can explain it better. I'm not in Washington, partly because I'm not American so it's not my business, and because I expect that would be ineffective; and I thought when I was about 10 years old that I could live with the President (even consider him "civilised") as long as he never pressed the Button.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 13, 2018 at 12:28

Compassion and generosity is attitude of a mother taking care of her children. Or attitude of a doctor taking care of his patients.

It's an attitude of unconditional love, no matter how wrong they are.

However, an adult is the one who can take care of oneself, who knows how to protect oneself and how to stay balanced and in control. Mother's love is boundless, but she does not surrender to all of her children whims. Doctor's compassion is unconditional, but he takes care to not get sick.

A good leader is not a boss, he's not pushing people around, he is a servant leader. And yet, he won't let an idiot do harm, he knows when to step in.

This combination of wisdom and compassion is the key. Infinite compassion, boundless love, never giving up on people, always giving second chance, like the sun. But also enough wisdom to do the right thing when needed.

How to foster this in oneself? Kill the ego. Ego is attachment to one philosophical position. When ego is murdered one can see with clarity as one is no longer boxed by one's position, and without ego compassion arises by itself. Kill your ego.

  • "Kill your ego" so that you can kill out of compassion later, with no remorse. Good that self plays actually an importand role to develope gratitude and generosity, Jains might be mentioned as well attachment of a mother, not compassion, is boundless bond. Would a father let his son harm himself with his stupid ideas and lost in quotations? Some start to drink, some get different addicted, some gain release by being confirmed by those above, some prefer to deny authorities, yet get and get not free. Given that self is one of the fundamental governing principles, it fits less as good advice. Feb 13, 2018 at 3:00
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    Friend Johann, looks like you can find something negative in everything? You know there is a Mahayana saying, "negative mind will find flaws even in Buddha" :)
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 13, 2018 at 3:23
  • As the wise and a doctor always the suppurative focus... are you here to gain appreciation and reputations or to get your defilements treaded kindly? How could my person ever be a friend of or for yours? Feb 13, 2018 at 3:25
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    Imagine what would happen if every one of us was so arrogant as to try teaching each other in the comments.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Feb 13, 2018 at 3:34
  • Some would learn rather to wasye time in accumulation of reputations? Readers could follow arguments an wisdom rather then demo-cracy results of the mass of uninformed and confused? One could possible correct ones answer so to cause no longtime harm of oneself and many others? One would not even need to read if not wished, or? Whats the interest of censure and quitening, pseudo harmony usually aside of wish to gain? Where are generosity and gratitude here, given it could be that it is not even near ill-will given? Disturbing the ego? Feb 13, 2018 at 10:23

A perfect virtue is only accessible to the enlightened man or for those who have progressed well close to enlightenment.

We should act depending on our capacity, but should always aim at the higher virtue that the fully enlightened ones showed us.

If you are beginning on your progress you better follow what @Sankha Kulathantille proposed and contemplate the virtue in your mind rather than actively engage in generosity.

If you have made a little progress and you think you know what is good or bad then follow @ Dhammadhatu response and act generously calculating what is good and bad act accordingly.

Yet again, if you have progressed further and have approached the knowledge of love and honor, then follow @ Samana Johann response. Love and honor those you regard and act generously towards them without expecting any benefit and unconditionally.

If you have progressed even further and become a Saintly man, then follow @ Andrei Volkov response and expand your unconditional love towards all being with no calculation, and without discrimination.

But remember those who reach the Saintly perfection are very rare and also don't think the progress ends there, there is progress beyond that, there is enlightenment. All virtues including the virtue of wisdom which is the pinnacle of all are purged for the one who crosses the shore. Although outwardly he/she may act exactly the same as the Saintly man, the one who crossed the shore does it effortlessly because he has become the virtue and when we ask “what is generosity?” we are asking what is the Buddha.

  • "unconditional love towards all being with no calculation, and without discrimination" such has no fundation in the Buddhas teachings in regard of honor and giving, if giving it a serious and resonable prove. It's just postmodern nonsens and philosophy. Not even for Buddhas non-action, no teaching, non-effort,... is taught and used. Feb 13, 2018 at 10:30
  • @Samana Johann, It's not nonsense as you say, contemplate beyond honor go beyond honoring and loving the few and love all don't harbor hate. The Buddha said..... Even were bandits savagely to sever you limb from limb with a two-handled saw, he who entertaineth hate on that account in his heart would not be one who carried out my teaching.
    – user13051
    Feb 13, 2018 at 10:57
  • Yes, (but) one talks with possessless people, on more need to train with gross and outwardly things here... it's a pleasure for defilements to run to above and so hold on and deny work right on stage. If wishing you may eat my persons almsfood tomorrow, it would be a honor to give even the "needed" to someone worthy like that. Can you shameless take it, accept it? It would general not proper to share food to ordinary people and show respect toward lay people. Something possible to think from another angle to match the leaking ground/base and fix it. Feb 13, 2018 at 11:14
  • What do you mean when you say "....It would general not proper to share food to ordinary people and show respect toward lay people."
    – user13051
    Feb 13, 2018 at 11:25
  • That the Buddha taught what one should do and what one should avoid to do, just with a near and practical sample, even if a little far in a world beliving all to be equal, Mr/mrs (?) Abhivadana starts very basic. Feb 13, 2018 at 11:36

This may, perhaps, seem unrelated and off topic. But, how about Metta Meditation? Seems like a simple solution in some regards but would be interested to see if it answers your query after a few sittings.

All the best.

  • Yes, and one neither need an authority, refuge and one can even safe many and efforts. Sounds like a great solution and we hope to be able to live from receicing metta to be able to complete the path or just live. Or was it meant as tool rather then replacement? Is metta toward something that serves as refuge proper? Setting all beings equal and make your self the Bhagava? Maybe karuna would be beter to forster generosity and mudita (joy with good and helpful) to forster respect? Just thought, of course certain "provoking". Using certain Brahmaviharas is a good idea, usually used in Mahayana Feb 13, 2018 at 10:41
  • So good it extending this if inspired, since usually made in this way in mentioned schools to teach lay people basics and have joy with their possibilities to be always a rich person, a giver and devoted receiver of good from above. Feb 13, 2018 at 10:46

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