What is Dana?
Teachings and meditation retreats that are offered in Insight Meditation, are offered on the principle of dana. Dana is an ancient Pali word meaning "generosity", "giving" or "gift." It is directly related to the Latin word donum and through this to such English words as donor, donate and donation.
Dana is intrinsic to the 2500 year-old Buddhist Theravada tradition from which Insight Meditation evolved. Going back to the days of the Buddha, the teachings were considered priceless and so they were offered as a form of dana. These teachers, including the Buddha received no payment for their instruction. So in response to being spiritually cared for, the lay community in reciprocal generosity, attuned to and fully looked after the needs of food, clothing, shelter and medicine for the monks and nuns who had taught them.
Beyond the practical dimension, dana also plays a crucial role in the spiritual life of a Dharma practitioner. It is the first of the ten paramitas, or qualities of character, to be refined & perfected. The act of giving itself is of immeasurable benefit to the giver for it opens up the heart, diminishes for a moment our self-absorption, and places value on the well-being of others. The simple gesture of offering a flower, an act of service, a kind thought or a simple meal is in fact a sincere form of practice.
Dana as Legacy
This is a living tradition that is thousands of years old and we are now the holders of this tradition. The generosity of countless people over the centuries has brought us to this point now where we can offer this retreat on the basis of Dana. When you come to our retreats you are being nourished by the generosity of people who came before you. So the financial generosity you share now is the resource that enables us to continue to offer retreats in the future, so then other people may benefit and allow the tradition to thrive and support the next generation of teachers and so on.
We do not have a strong monastic tradition in the West however our Insight teachers still follow the ancient model of dana (generosity). Retreat fees cover only the cost of your accommodation, food, retreat management and the teacher travel expenses. Teachers receive and rely upon financial support, donations (dana) given directly to the teacher by students at the retreat. Many teachers are dependent almost entirely on dana. We ask you to consider that these teachers invest the bulk of their time serving the dharma and that they have the same living expenses, rent/mortgage, transport, education, that we all do.
During the retreat there will be a dana box where you can contribute to the teacher via cash or cheque. The teacher's bank details will also be available after the retreat if you wish to deposit via online banking.
Thank you for you generosity and your support is deeply appreciated.