Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part II

by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(31) How anger is subdued by a ‘give and take’ policy

If a person is incapable of making an analytical observation of the dhatus (elements), charity or alms-giving should be made. One’s own personal property or any other thing should be. offered in donation to the person whom one resents or hates. Property or goods be also accepted in return from that hateful person. However, if the person whom you hate has no propriety of conduct in making his livelihood, you should only offer your property. If such a “give and take” policy is adopted, feeling of animosity or vengeance will surely be eradicated. Even resentment or hatred borne by an enemy in his past existence that has resuscitated in this present life existence, will, it is stated, be extinguished. An instance may be cited in this regard.

On a mountain known as Cittala where Pindapatika Thera resided, an old Thera who bore an inveterate hatred against the former, made three attempts to oust him from his place of residence. In a Sanghika monastery, i.e. a monastery which has been bestowed on the Sangha as a gift, the Bhikkhu who is younger in status is responsible to offer the place or make room for the senior Bhikkhu to reside. Contrary to this rule of discipline, the attitude of the old Thera amounted to causing annoyance to Pindapatika Thera. With a view to expel the feeling of vengeance borne by the other, Pindapatika Thera offered the other a bowl stating: “Sir, this is the begging bowl worth eight kyats which my mother had donated to me. You may please accept it and make use of it so that my mother, the donor, will derive merits.” Since the time of acceptance of the gift of the said bowl, feeling of animosity and vengeance had totally subsided in the old Thera. Hence, the Commentators have stated:

“Adantadamanam danam, danam sabbatthasadhakam, Danena piyavacaya, unnamani namanti ca.

Danam – charity or act of alms-giving, adantadamanam – can make a rude person become civilised, or in other words, can tame an unruly person. Danam – the act of donating gifts, sabbatthasadhakam – will accomplish all the advantages, or rather, will carry with it full benefits. (In the Silakkhanda Commentary, it is stated as “adinam dantadusakam” which, in fact, conveys the meaning that if a person worthy of receiving the offer of donation is not given a gift, it could – bring about estrangement between him and a refined person who is friendly to him and has earned his respect.) It continues to say that by offering gifts with a feeling of generosity and by speaking sweetly in a gentle manner, the person who makes offerings with a sweet tongue will be enhanced in his prestige. And also, the relationship between the receiver of gifts who hears the talk and the giver who speaks, will be cordial and in harmony.