By Nhất Quán
Usually, you only give alms to your loved ones, your best friend, and more generally to the poor, you will not give alms to someone you hate or hatred. Because of not understanding so much so that you only give limit generosity that leads to not much benefit, sometimes even selfish greed.
The word almsgiving is used by the Vietnamese with many meanings such as:
- Make offerings, giving, pay tribute, helping, sharing, etc.
All these words have a good meaning of giving. When you meet a poor person, your loving help called giving or called almsgiving. In the case of helping the poor, people suffering from natural disasters, accidents, tribulation, illnesses, etc ... you also can call is giving, pay tribute, or share 
Children helping grandparents and parents are called nurturing. For monks and nuns, the religious man is called offering. For people with high status in society or the elderly, use the word veneration, or dedication, etc ... All these words are only for the act of giving but developed in many different words to use wide, suitable for many subjects only.
The word offering means to provide and nurture revered beings such as teachers, patriarchs or grandparents, parents or as offerings to the Three Jewel, etc... who impart human morality, good things like the Three Precious Throne of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha forever help you remain in the true dharma, understand that beings in the six paths of samsara are all your relative for many lives, so act to give alms to them, then you have to call it an offering.
People with great compassion not only know how to give, to offer, to help, to share with others, but also to help the animals. Those are the person who knows how to cultivate merit in the right way. Buddhist practitioners need the practice to have this vast compassionate heart.
The same act of almsgiving, depending on the object, depending on the situation, that you use words appropriately, so as not to lose your respect and compassion. As a Buddhist, you must learn and understand this place clearly, in order to use the right words so as not to adversely affect your act of almsgiving.
Giving, the offering is the act of doing good merit, according to the Law of Cause and Effect, it is an essential condition for you to eliminate suffering, transform poverty and misery, no longer fear poverty, hungry and overcome the insecurity of fear in life as an arrow pointing the way, so you don't get lost. Although these words are written and speak differently, in other words, they have the same meaning, depending on the object of the giving, that is, the receiver has a differing way of calling to match, beautiful, and, please both objects giver and only receiver.
The question of what you get when giving almsgiving, according to Buddhism, the Buddha teaching almsgiving will help you:
- Helping you to cultivate merit
- Help you to eliminate greed and ignorance
- Help you transform bad cause karma into joy and happiness.
So even though small good deeds that you work hard to do as the Buddha taught and done, the rich and precious things or wealth will come to you in the present and in the future. Through almsgiving, your greed and selfishness will decrease. If you accumulate bottomless greed, it will create many sins, nurturing hatred, insecurity, and fear of many things in life.
To let go of greed and selfishness, the dharma of generosity is ranked at the top of the Six Paramitas. In it, in the order, the Buddha taught:
- Almsgiving, Precept, Patience, Diligence, Meditation, and Wisdom.
In the Buddhist house, giving is divided into three categories:
- Give wealth
- Give Dharma
- Give the fearlessness
For wealth is the giving of material wealth and money to people. That means depending on the conditions you have, given alms to make offerings to, helping people who are lonely, needy.
Dharma gives is to use your knowledge and understanding of the true Dharma to guide people about the truth of liberating enlightenment in the spirit of learning and progressing.
Therefore, as a Buddhist Layman, it is necessary to learn and understand as much as possible, when you have the knowledge, guide, and transmit to others the correct understanding. If not, you do not understand clearly, please ask for clear instruction. Should not know but the wrong direction for others, both lead each other into the wrong sins.
- Give others no fear is giving others stability at the moment they fluctuate.
Help others not to be afraid by using words to comfort in times of difficulty moment, or acts of compassion to eliminate violence, terrorism, bringing back personal, family, and social well-being. Besides, it also encourages and organizes many good works such as going to the flooded, natural disaster, drought, tsunami, earthquake areas to help people in need, escape away from fear.
Fear is a sign of a psychological response to a state of fluctuations such as restlessness, anxiety, terror, crisis, etc. and exists in each person. It can be said that from childhood to adulthood, you have too many fears as fear of loneliness, lack of food, lack of clothing, illness, loss, separation, especially the fear of death and countless other fear.
You often fear what happened in the past or fear what will happen in the future. There are even fears that don't stick anywhere, but you can still be afraid. Therefore, being fearless helps people to be self-sufficient in dealing with the real situation.
Why are you so often scare? Where does the cause originate?
          From the fact that you do not have confidence in yourself, do not understand the principles of the Law Of Cause and Effect, Karma, you only live by entrusting to fate, etc. All are dominated by ignorance interferes. Giving not fear is the best way to help people overcome a mental crisis. Some people can not overcome the mental crisis because too much fear leads to the risk of suicide.
The Boddhisattva practices fearlessness, helping sentient beings to be at peace in life, understand the essence of life so that it can easily overcome suffering and unhappiness. In Buddhism The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is a Boddhisattva who makes a great vow to practice giving fearlessness by reciting his name unanimously:
- Namo great gentle, great compassion, save suffering, rescue Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara 
People wherever there are suffering and fear that recite this name, then there is Avalokitesrava Boddhisattva appear.
To get rid of fear is actually not too difficult, you have to know how to face your fear to identify the true form, face, and face clearly, and then find the cause and root and have an antidote. Fearless giving is an extremely important way to eliminate suffering and fear. It makes the poor not suffer from need, and the rich are not afraid of costly, loss of money, and wealth.
The practice of fearless giving is a source of bliss that provides to all, all sexes, all backgrounds, regardless of young or old, boy, girl, luxury, cowardly, as long as you generate generosity with your true heart. No pursuit, no self-interest but for sake of others' benefits. To successful practice almsgiving, you must meet three factors:
- Giver
- Almsgiving
- The object for you to give
Three these elements, it is like the three legs of the bronze burner, wanting to stand without one is indispensable because, without one leg, it is not a bronze burner. The practice of giving is the same, if you have something to give without someone to receive, then you can not give. So, the giver must also be grateful to the person who receives the gift.
          When you practice almsgiving, you will immediately transform the karma of suffering and unhappiness which is collectively known as bad karma. Bad and evil karma is countless, here I just talk about suffering due to poverty. So, how do you overcome poverty? That is what everyone wants and dreams of.
You often ask questions:
Why you are poor and others are rich? Was your destiny arranged like that?
Poverty or rich has its cause, nothing suddenly becomes. Because you do not have insight, wrong judgment, and think that you were born poor or rich, all due to heaven or destiny determination, you think that is unpair to heaven. The Buddha stated that:
- Poverty, hungry, and misery are caused by stinginess, shabbily, and theft.
So giving alms is that you relieve stingy karma because when you give in giving, there is sympathy to share and help each other in the spirit of respect for human love. By giving alms you reduce greed, small selfishness, reduce or immediately change the karma of poverty,  hunger, and suffering.
Regarding the practice of almsgiving, you should not think about being rich, having a lot of money to practice giving. As mentioned above, there are many ways to give generosity such as: Giving your heart, giving your words, giving your understanding, or giving your actions ... The practice of giving loved ones easy, but giving alms to someone you have ever resented and hatred is difficult. So you have to learn the Bodhisattva's deeds: equal giving regardless of objects. By practicing almsgiving like that, you can transform the karma of poverty and evil.
In the past, the Buddha had a disciple named Katyayana, or Mahakatyayana who attested to the Fruit of Arahat. On the way preaching, he met a poor old woman complaining of her poor and hungry for nearly eight decades. After listening, Venerable Mahakatyayana explained the cause of her poverty and told her to sell poverty to end suffering. The old lady happily asked:
- Can poverty be sold?
Reverence Mahacatyayana replied:
- Yes, you can sell it.
So, if anyone buys it I will sell it. If the poor can sell, no one else is poor in this world; who does not want to sell poverty. As once said, poverty is the result of not knowing to give, to make offers, on the contrary, often stealing, deceiving people, or not knowing how to save, do one-to-ten, to enjoy too much. So, almsgiving is the best way to sell poverty.
Reverence Mahacatyayana explained to the old woman to understand that the poor and rich all have their deep cause, not suddenly you are so poor such. The poor people today are due to the fact that in the previous life, they did not know how to give alms, make offerings, help, and share with anyone. Therefore, the practice of giving alms is the best way to sell poverty. After listening to Reverence Mahacatyayana's explanation, the old woman felt that the sorrows of her poor condition all disappeared in her mind. But thinking about it, she also pitied herself because she looked around her with nothing to give or offer.
Seeing the old woman's devotion to making an offering to the highest degree, Reverence Mahacatyayana says:
- You(old woman) took the cup out of the river to draw me a cup of water, you would definitely sell the poverty in the future.
The old woman delighted in her heart, quickly went to the river to bring back a cup of clear water, respectfully offered to Reverence Mahacatyayana. Since then, the old woman has always felt in her heart joy and happiness. And a few days later the old woman passed away in peace and free.
Due to the devotion offered with a sincere heart, the old woman was born to heaven as a fully blessed fairy, with enough merit she has whatever she wants. She uses supernatural power back to earth to revisited the poor body of the day, now is disintegrating. She silently thanked the Buddha Dharma, thanked reverence Mahacatyayana for guiding and helping her overcome the poor and hungry life of the world easily.
Now being the body of fairy splendidly beautiful whatever she wants, she can only thank the merit of offering a cup of river water to the Arahat with all her heart's respect and joy. Now, in the fairy scene, she makes a vow offering the eternal offering to increase compassion, joy, and nurture merit.
In the world, giving alms and making offerings is a field of blessing for mankind. A person who has a mind to give alms is to train yourself to have a noble life, be happy in the present, and happy for the future. And the practice of almsgiving and offers doesn't need to be done by rich people, cash surplus can do it. Sometimes people are rich but their temperament is stingy so they can not give alms. On the contrary, the poor and in need, if they know how they can still practice giving making offerings, accumulating merits, then the experience will pass, suffering, have the opportunity to live peace and joy, happiness in this life and look forward to a good future.
In the folk there is a saying:
- No one is rich in all three families,
No one is poverty and needy for three generations
No one has to endure poverty, poor forever. Someone who knows how to do good deeds, know to give alms, making offerings, life will be changed, without this life is in the next life, so there is a sentence: No one is difficult for three generations.
And in the treasure of Vietnamese folk songs, there is also a sentence:
- Whoever eats and live well,
If in this life you will not meet to save the next life.
So you must try to make good deeds, give alms, make offerings, do not think that rich, poor are determined by heaven. You say that is not correct. How could any god behave injustice like that?
People have merit, this life is rich and precious, but if you enjoy the blessings without knowing how to practice almsgiving, make an offering to accumulate more, until all the blessings are over, the business goes down and often gets disaster to become poor, miserable, so there is saying that: No one is rich in the three of families is in this place. Once you know that, you should do it right away, do not postpone, do not wait.
Knowing this you will not lament, not complain, blame, but must rise up to rebuild your life, trying to change your life
You have to know how to sow and plant the merit, to get this you must have that. To have mango fruit, you must sow the seeds of the mango and take care of the tree. If you do not plant mango trees, but you want to eat the mangoes, you must have money to buy mangoes, that's the cause and effect. The Law of cause and effect is the fundamental teaching of Buddhism. It is impossible if you do not sow seeds but you want to reap the fruit.
According to the Buddhist conception, the rich and the poor are not in material and money, but the rich and poor are placed heavily on the foundation of morality, character, and heart. People with compassion loving and helping people, living with good moral qualities and character are precious, worthy of respect. On the contrary, people who have money and comfort but can not have the above factor, they are still poor, and miserable people. 
Poor people often do not know how to cultivate merit, because they have to work hard but also earn money live day by day, so, they are poor even more poor. They do not have the condition or the opportunity to help anyone, can not accumulate merit, so that resentment is stored in the heart every day more and more every day. According to the Buddha taught:
- Giving has two forms: Giving is pure and giving is not pure.
Almsgiving for fame wants everyone to know you, to see you as the center of the universe. You want to be more famous than everyone else, no one equals you. Or because of jealousy that gives alms. Almsgiving to prove you are richer than people or giving alms is to buy off the hearts of others, or for a certain plot. All acts of giving alms for personal gain, because of the evil, selfish mind, because the mind wants to be famous than the person is called impure generosity.
As for acts of almsgiving:
- Because I love people,
- For the sake of giving,
- Because of enlightenment.
The practice of giving as above is for the benefit of people, called pure generosity. You give out compassion, out of compassion for others, you do not have the heart to ask people to be grateful or in return. The almsgiving, offering with an equal mind regardless of the relatives or strangers, depending on the condition of the offering, does not calculate benefit or not, then will be blessed. The person who gives almsgiving, offering with an equal mind, regardless of relatives or strangers depending on the conditions of the almsgiving, that person is called a great benefactor 
In the history of Buddhism, Anathapindika is a shining example of the virtue of giving to us to learn to follow. People who want to improve their personality, lifestyle, morality, etc. Must have learning and practicing. Someone who has a deep belief in the Three Jewel has attained the Non-Retrogression fruit or Never receding from position attained, no matter how they encounter, they also maintain their good heart. Anathapindika is such a person like this, so from that day until now everyone, all sexes, all elites in the society admire and respect him.  
Almsgiving, offer is the way that leads to a closer, and deeper love of humanity every day, and helping and sharing together is the way eliminate resentment, and hatred to sit beside each other, using love to build a life.   
Almsgiving, offer is also the first step of the boddhisatva level to step by step on the path Buddhism. As to almsgiving, offer, your mind is peaceful, relaxed seeing everyone is your relative and lover one, no longer seeing who is your enemy, so people can easily attach and love more.
The Asian folklore often says:
- The food you eat is gone, but what you for others remain.
This statement seems very confusing, especially the following part. As the first part says:
- The foods you eat are over.
This is clear you eat it all, that's right. But the following says:
- What you give to others remains.
Obviously, when you give something, you lost it, but why say it still there. But the reality is not wrong, what thing you spend and enjoy for yourself is gone. But what you give to others, whether you like it or not, has made a good impression on the recipient, that sentiment remains forever. Moreover, living in life is mutuality. Today you give alms, help others, if one day, you fall in a wrong position, everyone knows you well, they will be willing to help you. So say:
- The wealth of giving is still there.
Buddha taught, who knows how to sow the cause of merit, in the present and the future, they will be full and rich. This action is similar to your bank deposit, when needed you can gradually withdraw to spend. Whereas those who do not know how to cultivate merit are like those who have pennies to spend the same coin, always suffer poverty and hardship for a lifetime without surplus. So, when you practice giving alms, you must practice giving with a sincere heart, joyful and timely mind to achieve high value like the thirsty person needs water, the cold person who needs fire gets warm, etc. Practicing giving alms with an immeasurable mind and at such a right time, on time, according to the  Suddharma-Pundarika Sutra or Lotus Sutra, both the giver and the receiver all will benefit. 
When giving alms help people
Happy face, body, and mind
Thank you for your receiving
No need for gratitude
The person receiving the alms
Delighted because got the property
Donors are happier
Because blessings are sown.
Buddha taught, living in this universe is always bound together, from people to all species. Therefore, the Cause and Effect of the blessed are also very diverse, such as:
- There are someone weaves fabrics, you can wear clothes; 
- There is someone working in the field, you have rice to eat, etc.
That is why during the times when they have a meal in mindfulness, the Monks and Nuns often read the sentence:
- Two hands carry a full bowl of rice
A seed of fragrant, but thousand times bitter and spicy
The monk who receives the offerings of Buddhist believers to nurturing for his own life means that he is borrowing according to the Law of Cause and Effect. So, how does the monk pay the debt?
The Monks or Nuns must practices confidentially, rightly, instruct Buddhist Laymen the know what is right, stay away from sin, that is how to pay the noble debt for the Buddhist believer, but if do not fulfill the duty, responsibility obligation, the ordained must pay this debt according to the Law of Cause and Effect. 
The Buddhist Law of Cause and Effect helps you to enlighten your human lover in the compassionate seeds of almsgiving. Thereby, you see an important act of generosity in the heart of sincerity as is the case of anathapindika, a heart that sows conditions with great blessings field. And he attained Non-Retrogression fruit or Never receding from the position right in this act.
You should not have any doubts, develop the heart of almsgiving, make offerings is deposit money into the Bank of Cause and Effect, that money is preserved intact and profitable when you need this Bank of Cause and Effect will pay you back for use, you don't be afraid of deprivation.
In short, The person born into poverty and misery is the result of selfishness, greed for many previous generations; and the person who gets rich is the result of doing good deeds, helping and sharing to others, almsgiving, offering. Because of these different causes and effects, in this life, people are born with disagreements in aspects of rich and poor, good and bad, smart and stupid, etc.
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