Dana Means Giving: The Giving of Financial Support and the Giving of Service to the Center
An Economy of Gifts
Dana is the Pali word for giving, the active expression of generosity. In his time almost 2600 years ago, the Buddha structured things so that village people would provide the four requisites of food, robes, shelter and medicine for the monastics, and asked that monks and nuns freely give teachings to the laypeople. Through the reciprocal generosity of teachers and students, laypeople and monastics, the teachings have flourished in many different locations and cultures, allowing millions of people to cultivate greater wisdom and compassion. Not only have the teachings benefitted many, but also the way they have been transmitted has been imbued with generosity and sharing.
Dana as a practice is directly related to the core insights of what the Buddha taught: experiencing ourselves as not separate from others, and letting go of clinging into freedom. When we come to know the truth of interconnectedness we can open our hearts and give without reservation. May the practice of giving bring joy and freedom to your heart, and to the hearts of all beings.
Dana for Teachers
Lay dharma teachers today are lay people with ordinary household expenses. They spend years practicing, studying and on retreat, for the great privilege of sharing the dharma with a community of students (sangha). Our teachers become and remain effective because they spend hours each week in practice and study.
For the dharma to flourish in the west, teachers need the support of students. Teachers at VIMC are not paid a fee for teaching, but instead are supported by the intentional generosity of sangha members. Giving (dana in Pali) is a living practice in which we are invited to look into our hearts and contribute according to what we truly discern as appropriate to our life situation. The Buddha said: “Give until you feel generous.”
At VIMC we are committed to making the teachings available to all those who are interested. As a Center, as a sangha, and as a community we rely on a safety net of mutual support, where those with more are moved to contribute more, and those with less are afforded equal opportunity for practice and study. Along with receiving the powerful teachings of the dharma, we are invited to experience the twin joys of supporting our teachers and contributing to making these teachings of clarity and friendliness available for others.
Dana for Teachers can be offered in several ways. During open teaching time on Sundays, there is a basket with an opportunity to offer dana in the moment to the teacher as an expression of your gratitude and connection with the teacher and with the teachings. When taking a course with a particular teacher at VIMC, you are given a suggested donation as a guideline for what to offer. In this way, as mentioned above, those who can and are so moved, will offer more than the suggested donation. Finally, you can donate online by visiting our Donate web page where there are options for Support Your Teacher.
Dana for the Center
Vermont Insight Meditation Center relies on the generosity of volunteers, donors, and the time and skill of many of our community members to sustain and grow the programs, classes and events we are able to offer the community.
The realities of operating and maintaining a meditation center in modern times are challenging. By supporting the Center financially and/or by contributing your time and talent as a volunteer, you can help us meet this challenge and continue a tradition that dates back 2,500 years. VIMC has no paid staff, and is run solely by volunteers. Our Board of Directors is essentially a working Board, taking on the monthly organizational decisions and action steps. To keep VIMC a vibrant and responsive organization, we depend on contributions of service, time, and financial support from you.
In keeping with the spirit of the practice of dana, it is equally if not more important to cultivate the heart and mind of generosity while one is in the midst of giving. The intention or the quality of the heart and mind with which one gives is the very place where the spiritual path and compassionate action come together. In this way, acts of generosity of any size are of equal merit in the field of benefit that is cultivated by the donor.
We at Vermont Insight are grateful for the dana we receive in support of the Center and our teachers. We are inspired by how beautifully Dharma practice develops when it is cultivated in a field of generosity and gratitude.
Nuts and Bolts—How to Give At VIMC
- For classes, it is best to register ahead using PayPal. Teachers accept dana in a bowl or box on the table at class.
- For teacher-led community sittings such as Sunday mornings two bowls or boxes are set out, one for teachers, and one for VIMC.
- For practice sessions led by practice leaders, one bowl or box is set out for supporting the Center.
- For direct giving online, please visit our Donate web page.
Tax Deduction Information
VIMC is a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. When writing a dana check for a teacher, please make it out to VIMC and put the name of the class or event on the memo line.
Do You Have Further Questions?
Like our larger meditation practice, the practice of dana might seem easy and clear at times, while at other times it might seem unclear and difficult to balance. Please feel free to talk about this with our teachers, board members, or volunteer staff.