Teachings on Generosity

The Dana Group is pleased to offer teachings on generosity, money, and wealth. If you have recommendations for readings or talks please let us know by writing to Lodro Rinzler.



To view information about upcoming programs on the Shambhala view of working with our relationship to money and wealth please click here


Video files:

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on thinking of others


Audio files:

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on the topic of generosity given on November 27th, 2007 at the Halifax Shambhala Centre



Talk by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche at Vajra Garchen at Dechen Choling May 2007



Pan-Dharmadollar by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, from First Thought Best Thought, Shambhala Publications

Auspicious Coincidence: Wealth and Vision by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche from Warrior Songs, Vajradhatu Publications

Nonconceptual Giving by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, 29 December 1985

Mismatched/Mixmatched by the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin, Like Water Poured into Water, Satdharma Press

To purchase books of poetry click here



Money is a simple situation that represents life, strength and lineage or heritage of all kinds. It is very simple and very direct. The three principles – practice, money and learning – actually work with each other and all three of them are very important. People in the past have worked on those same three things. Our community is growing by being squeezed…although our funds are tight, our vision is enormous. That is the way we behave; and that combination works very brilliantly and very beautifully.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Famous Last Words” Karme Dzong Boulder 24 January 1977


Generosity is very important in Buddhism. In Sanskrit there is a word, dana, which at its Indo-European root is related to “donation.” Dana is generosity, or giving in. Dana is also connected with devotion and the appreciation of sacredness. Sacredness is not purely a religious concept alone, but it is an expression of general openness - how to be open, how to kiss somebody, how to express the emotion of giving. You are giving yourself, not just a gift alone. So real generosity comes from developing a general sense of kindness...”

Selected Writings Comparing the Heart: A Dialogue Between Father Thomas Keating and Chogyam Trungpa from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa available through Shambhala Publications

We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense
of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness, and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain -- although what we gain should not
particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more
we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens
naturally, automatically, always.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving Kindness, available through Shambhala Publications


On the whole we should regard money as mother's milk: it nourishes us and it nourishes others. That should be our attitude to money. It's not just a bank coupon that we have in our wallet. Each dollar contains a lot of past; many people worked for that particular one dollar, one cent. They worked so hard, with their sweat and tears. So it's like mother's milk. But at the same time, mother's milk can be given away and we can produce more mother's milk. So I wouldn't hang on to it too tightly.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, "Regarding Money as Mother's Milk," Ratna Society Talks (1978-81), available through the Shambhala Shop


When I'm dressing, sometimes my friend, Mr. P., says to me, "You can't wear that shirt for the fourth time," I say, "Of course I can." I've worn a single shirt many times, and it has looked fine. That's what we call merit. Merit means that somebody deserves that kind of manifestation. A person doesn't have to be extravagant in order to manifest wealth, but he or she does have to have some karmic sense of basic sanity, worthwhileness...We tend to borrow the concepts of how people have made money in the past. Obviously, we are born naturally rich, but at the same time, from a Buddhist point of view, we have forgotten the merit involved, the fact that we are glowing as we are, wearing our shirt for the eighth time!Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, "Regarding Money as Mother's Milk," Ratna Society Talks (1978-81), available through the Shambhala Shop


The idea of giving is not exactly the idea that you have so much to give and therefore, you should give or, for that matter, the idea that you have so little to give and therefore you should give whatever precious thing you have. But it is giving in the sense of a general feeling of being willing to part with any precious things that exist, anything you want to hold onto. Giving is trying to part with that kind of thing. So the basic idea of generosity, or the paramita of generosity, is learning how to part with the things that you have.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, unpublished transcript, unknown source

Note: if you know the source of this text please tell us


The essence of generosity is letting go. Pain is always a sign that we are holding on to something – usually ourselves. When we feel unhappy, when we feel inadequate, we get stingy; we hold on tight. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. By offering whatever we can – a dollar, a flower, a word of encouragement – we are training in letting go.Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty, from Shambhala Publications


Generosity is the virtue that produces peace.

Traditional oryoki chant


Seminary Transcript Resources:

Generosity: Sutrayana (Hinayana/Mahayana) Transcripts

  • 1974 p. 138-139, 143, 148
  • 1975 p. 45, 268-269
  • 1976 p. 50-52
  • 1978 p. 121, 131-132, 134-136, 145, 165
  • 1981 p. 85
  • 1982 p.64, 77-86, 91-92, 101, 127
  • 1983 p. 46, 66-67, 70
  • 1984 p. 64-66
  • 1985 p. 83-85

Money: Sutrayana (Hinayana/Mahayana) Transcripts

  • 1976 p. 50-51, 100
  • 1982 p. 69-70, 78

Wealth:Sutrayana (Hinayana/Mahayana) Transcripts

  • 1982 p. 78, 82-83

Money: Vajrayana Transcripts

  • 1982 p. 85, 88, 92

To purchase Sutrayana (Hinayana/Mahayana) transcripts click here

To purchase Vajrayana Seminary transcripts click here



Click here to return to the main Dana Group page