I read on the internet Mahasi Sayadaw once said:

"For example, if a generous person obtains something precious and valuable, his first thought is to offer it to someone else rather than to use it for his own pleasure."

So a person, in being devoid of craving, or in cultivating detachment, shows "generosity" in giving someone else the object of the craving and allowing them to bear the craving in themselves.

This seems both perverse and ubiquitous in the literature. Where is the "generosity" in spreading the disease of attachment?


Yes (I think some gifts may have a poisonous effect), and so perhaps should care who you give to, and what.

You might also be careful about what you accept -- someone who only accepts what they need might not have that problem.

Another problem (that could poisoning the giver) might be giving with or because of some attachment, e.g. because you want something in return.

Some of the famous Zen stories are about giving, e.g.:

  • The Giver should be Thankful
  • The Moon Cannot Be Stolen
  • The Thief Who Became a Disciple
  • and "Publishing the Sutras". – ChrisW Apr 28 '19 at 21:21

To blame a giver's generosity for a receiver's attachment, are we sure that this is the "right view"?

Agree that the "giver" needs to be skillful, i.e. with no malicious intentions when giving.


The giving of gifts is discussed in AN8.33

A person might give a gift out of favoritism or hostility or stupidity or cowardice. Or they give thinking, ‘Giving was practiced by my father and my father’s father. It would not be right for me to abandon this family tradition.’ Or they give thinking, ‘After I’ve given this gift, when my body breaks up, after death, I’ll be reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm.’ Or they give thinking, ‘When giving this gift my mind becomes clear, and I become happy and joyful.’ Or they give a gift thinking, ‘This is an adornment and requisite for the mind.’

Rather than focus on the poisoned outcomes of ways of giving, it might be simplest to simply focus on the best way to give a gift. Specifically, the giving of alms is

an adornment and requisite for the mind

If we conduct all our giving in this manner, then the problem of giving gifts unpoisoned is solved.

However, there is also the matter of receiving gifts that were given with unwholesome (e.g., poisened) intent. From AN4.78:

And how is a religious donation purified by the recipient, not the giver? It’s when the giver is unethical, of bad character, but the recipient is ethical, of good character.

This is quite significant, because the recipient receives the gift as given, without resentment and with full acceptance.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.