Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: The Paramitas

May 23, 2017

Whatever our life truly may be, whatever the world and universe are, they are surely gifts, abundantly and freely given.


After a break of a few weeks,  Henry continues his series on the Paramitas.

Circling back belatedly to the first “perfection,” dana, or generosity.

Interesting that generosity is the first paramita. The implication of its being the first would seem to be that we won’t be able to cultivate any of the others unless we have first learned to exercise and open up our innate generosity.

Why should generosity be so important? Here are some random speculations…

Generosity is the founding principle of this universe. There was nothing at all, then there was the minutest impulse, which became a ripple, and infinite potential suddenly burst into being. The Big Bang happened, and all this cosmos was – well, given. Simply given. By what and to what perhaps we will never know. But it happened, and it’s still happening now…

Whatever our life truly may be, whatever the world and universe are, they are surely gifts, abundantly and freely given.

When we understand that, our response becomes one of humility and gratitude, and with that gratitude comes an impulse to give back. Giving is always the cornerstone of non-selfishness.

To feel the impulse to take, hoard, hold – perhaps it precedes all other unkindness. Would there be murder and killing when there was no urge to take or keep? Would there be stealing? Or lying?

To give is perhaps the surest way to undercut the whole system of grasping and clinging. Thus, it may set the whole tone for our life of practice. Ultimately, our practice is done not for our own benefit, nor to get what we want from it, but to help us become what we are, more fully. It is basically a decontamination program, an anti-viral program. The plan is to cleanse us of the three poisons – to practice ongoingly in such a way that it’s harder for us to get re-infected. If we commence with a plan that practice is undertaken for ourselves, we are going to be practicing with at least two of the poisons in effect running our practice – greed and delusion. Namely, that I want to get pleasant experiences out of my practice, and to feel better for myself, which will be very nice for me.

Whereas, how much greater it is to recognize the suffering in the world, and to realize that we are not apart from it, but one with it, and to offer our practice as a gift and a sustenance, a balm, a nourishment for all our fellow beings. And then our practice can become nothing other than our help offered to other beings. Thus it moves naturally from the cushion into every moment of our lives. Our zazen never leaves us, and unconsciously we hope in time to share it with all beings.

Thus from the outset, our practice can be an offering, the best we can do to help our brother- and sister-, niece- and nephew-, son- and daughter-, mother- and father-beings, who share this beautiful, troubled home of planet Earth with us.


Message from Henry if from our May 23 Newsletter
Images: 1) Gift by Klimkin, 2) Child by Bessi, both CC0 Public Domain from

footer support banner image

Support Mountain Cloud

You can show your gratitude for Mountain Cloud events, retreats, podcasts and other teachings by making a one-time gift, or by becoming a supporting member.

Donate to Mountain Cloud Become a Member