The Tradition of Dana

Dana is a Sanskrit word meaning “generosity”.

The Buddhist tradition of generosity is quite different from the way we typically think of it here in the West. To most of us, generosity refers to a transaction that benefits one person materially and the other emotionally. From a Buddhist perspective, however, the act of giving benefits the giver far more than it does the recipient.

Who Benefits?

In the Buddha’s very first teaching, the Four Noble Truths, he identified the source of our suffering as attachment: our inability to let go. This is why committed spiritual practitioners actively seek out opportunities to let go through the practice of generosity. From this point of view, the opportunity to offer dana is considered a gift from the teacher to the student.

Practicing Dana at Shambhala South Africa

There is never any charge for attending our meditation/study groups, nor for meditation instruction. We do our best to keep the costs of programmes and events low, and offer work exchange and/or payments by installment to those who truly can’t afford to attend.

At the same time, we encourage participants in our Buddhist groups and programmes to contribute in two ways: one, by making a monetary gift to the teacher; and two, by helping us cover the costs of our rentals, supplies and other resources. You will find receptacles for both purposes at our drop-in groups. No one but you knows whether or how much you give.

How Much Should I Give?

The traditional practice is to give just a little bit more than feels comfortable. This helps us exercise our “letting go muscles”, which in turn gives us more power to let go of all the attachments that keeps us stuck in our neurotic suffering.

How Can I Give?

You can give in cash at a meditation or study group, or you can give by EFT. Our bank details are:

Bank: Nedbank
Account name: Shambhala Cape Town
Account type: Cheque
Branch: Rondebosch
Branch code: 104809
Account number: 1048090140