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Somewhere I thought it was said that the practice of harmlessness was praised by the Buddha as the greatest form of generosity. (I don't remember where I read this.)

Has anything like this been said in the Buddha's teachings or in any Buddhist texts?

  • i.e. the non-doing, non-harming of an arahant vs. the doing of a political activist. – avatar Korra Jul 5 '18 at 3:01
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Dhamma-dana, the gift of the noble teachings, is said by the Buddha to excel all other gifts:

The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts; the taste of the Dhamma excels all tastes; the delight in Dhamma excels all delights. The Craving-Freed vanquishes all suffering. ~~ Dhp. 354 ~~

  • and one who practices harmlessness is giving the gift of the Dhamma through living it, are they not. – avatar Korra Jul 10 '18 at 2:15
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    And what are the manifestations of living the Dhamma if not through all 3 gateways of body, speech, and mind. – santa100 Jul 10 '18 at 13:08
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Dhammapada 270 has been translated in several ways, some of which use the word "harm".

Verse 270: He who harms living beings is, for that reason, not an ariya (a Noble One); he who does not harm any living being is called an ariya

In terms of "greatest", it is notable that generosity is the first Paramita.

Focusing on "greatest" alone is problematic, because it may lead one to ignore other considerations. For example, standing by to avoid risk of harm to oneself while others are being harmed might not be generous.

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in Overflowing Merit.
Reasons for people to observe precepts. some might do so for self benefit, self generated peace .. or in case of incorporating with gift giving, people observe precepts so others may benefit from it. such as no killing, stealing etc. IMO, observing precepts for benefit of others is highest form of generosity.

...Mendicants, these five gifts are great, original, long-standing, traditional, and ancient. They are uncorrupted, as they have been since the beginning. They’re not being corrupted now nor will they be. Sensible ascetics and brahmins don’t look down on them. What five? Firstly, a noble disciple gives up killing living creatures. By so doing they give to countless sentient beings the gift of freedom from fear, enmity, and ill will. And they themselves also enjoy unlimited freedom from fear, enmity, and ill will. This is the first gift that is a great offering, original, long-standing, traditional, and ancient. It is uncorrupted, as it has been since the beginning. It’s not being corrupted now nor will it be. Sensible ascetics and brahmins don’t look down on it. This is the fourth kind of overflowing merit …

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Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness.

(It §27)

For It §27, loving-kindness is said to be the most merit-producing form of generosity.

Next, for Satipatthana Samyutta, No. 19, loving-kindness is described as protecting others, together with harmlessness and compassion.

And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and compassion."

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