The Practice of Giving

Please note that the retreat fees pay for your room and three meals a day. This does not include payment to the teacher. Following the 2,500-year-old Buddhist tradition, the teachings are considered priceless and so are offered freely. At the end of the retreat you will be invited to offer dana, or donations, to the teachers, the retreat manager and TNI.

"Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression.
We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous.
We experience joy in the actual act of giving something.
And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given."
-The Buddha

Summer flowersDana is an ancient Pali word meaning “giving” or “gift.” Dana is at the heart of the 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition. Going back to the days of the Buddha, he and the monastic community offered the teachings freely to lay people, as a form of dana. In turn the lay community, through their generosity, or dana, ensured that their teachers’ basic needs for food, clothing, shelter and medicine were provided.

When the Buddha would give a public discourse, he usually began with teaching on the importance and the benefits of dana. The act of giving itself is of immeasurable benefit to the giver; it opens up the heart, diminishes for a moment one’s self-absorption and places value on the well-being of others. The simple gesture of offering a flower, an act of service or a kind thought can in fact be a sincere form of practice. The size or value of the gift is of little importance; the key is that the act of giving itself is the natural expression of a connected and loving heart.

True North Insight continues this tradition and practice of dana in our organization. The teachers, the members of the organizing committee and Board of Directors generously offer their time and skills with very modest or (for the most part) no remuneration, so that the Buddha’s teachings can be offered to relieve suffering and create peace in our world. The fee you pay to attend a TNI retreat covers the basic costs of a retreat; none of your registration fee is payment to the teachers leading the retreats. Teachers offer the teachings with a spirit of generosity and trust that their lives and work will be supported by those who are receiving the life-giving teachings. This is a real expression of the truth of interdependence.

At the end of each retreat, a dana talk is given as an invitation to participate in the rich tradition of giving. Your practice of generosity to the teachers, the retreat manager and True North Insight enables the teachings to continue and the practice community to thrive.

Listen to dharma talks on generosity:

Molly Swan (in English)

Pascal Auclair (in French)

Photo: Barbara Koch