Res. Minister: Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano
6996 Ontario Rd.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Ph. 805 595-2625
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The Gift of Giving

"Hey Joe, can you spare a dime?" I am sure that many of you have been approached on the street by someone asking for a donation, or received countless pieces of mail asking to support different charities or passed by the kettle and bell ringer in from of a store.

Some charities go even further by "suggesting" a certain dollar amount for your donation. In our Buddhist teachings, we come across the word "Dana" which translates to "giving" but often times is confused with donations.

Yes, many of us make periodic donations to SLOJBC at Shotsuki Hoyo, Hanamatsuri, Obon, and other special occasions, but is it true Dana?

There is a story about an elderly woman named Nanda who lived in India a long time ago. She was very poor and wanted to make an offering to the temple where the Buddha was staying but could not because she had no money. However, she soon found a job which paid very little but allowed her to purchase oil for one of the temple's lamps. This lamp continued to burn throughout the night even though one of Buddha's disciples tried to extinguish it. The Buddha then said, "Nothing will extinguish the lamp, not even if an ocean was poured over it, for this gift from a poor woman who sacrificed food for herself was given from her pure heart."

A minister from another temple recently wrote that true Dana should be given without any thought of acknowledgment or receiving something in return, that it should not be of a specific or suggested amount nor given at a specific time --- it should be given from the heart.

Next time you approach the incense burner to oshoko and before putting an offering into the basket next to the burner, reflect back to Nanda's story.

OKAZU by Gary Hongo