Dana can be translated as generosity, or freely giving. Dana is an ancient and rich tradition that has sustained the teaching of the Dharma for more than 2,500 years. The teachings of the Buddha have always been considered to be priceless. Throughout time monastics were supported through the generosity of their lay communities. Today in the west, retreat centres and venues charge fees to cover the costs of food and accommodation, administration and travel expenses of the teachers. Teachers in insight meditation centres receive no fee for their teaching but continue to commit to the tradition of receiving dana from participants.
As one of a small group of the early teachers of insight meditation in the west, I appreciated the power of committing to the tradition of dana as an acknowledgement of our interconnectedness and interdependence. All of the centres I teach in have been born of people’s generosity. There is something deeply touching in the reality that this tradition of generosity continues to thrive today allows the teaching to continue and to be of benefit to many.
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