Harvesting Dana

We will resume begging this week, and would ask your participation - even if you are not nearby. Fall is upon us, and fruit and nuts are ripe or nearly so! Here are some tips for practicing this Yoga.

  • KARMA: Selfless action IS Karma Yoga. In asking for fruits and nuts, remember that the object is not to obtain the fruits and nuts, nor to ensure the transfer of the Dana to those in need, but to encourage the giving of Dana by those who own the fruits and nuts to those in need. You will not always be around; but if you help inspire a habit of giving, this will remain a very long time after you are gone.
  • BHAKTI: in giving Dana, remember that you are not giving it because it is "good" thing to do, nor for any reward - but because it is the right thing to do. Motivate yourself with loving friendship for those who you would give the fruits and nuts to; do not confuse sympathy with compassion. Do not confuse poverty with need. Remember the true reason you are giving.
  • HATHA: All five points should be practiced - proper flexibility will reduce the physical strain of lifting, reaching, and other work associated with this Dana. Proper attention to the breath while undertaking this Dana will not only improve awareness in meditation, but reduce the exertion. Relax - physically, mentally and spiritually before, during and after: a feeling of rushing and excitement should be vigorously overcome. Proper diet is accomplished by ensuring the quality of the food collected and processed, protect those receiving the Dana from spoilage, damage and rot; if you prepare the fruits and nuts for storage by dehydration, canning or cooking, produce healthy and wholesome foods intended for enjoyment and wellbeing. And do not neglect right thinking through meditation during your Dana: follow your breath, your footsteps, improve consciousness.
  • JNANA: Though numerous studies can be made into Dana, we suggest those which will instruct and train in the termination of Karma. The goal is not to obtain good results from this good act, but to gradually still your Karma through non-action. Consider that your work should result in less necessity for work: bring those giving and receiving together, and make what efforts if you do put into the Dana as selfless as possible. If you are dehydrating apple chips, dehydrate them for their own sake, not to give; when you share, let the sharing result from friendship and joy in sharing and in the food itself, not sympathy.
  • TECHNICAL: it is good to wash the fruits and nuts thoroughly before giving; sometimes chemicals are applied to them and these poisons should be removed. If you have surplus, consider dehydration or canning to preserve the fruits and nuts, or cooking them to facilitate speedier consumption. When instructing in the benefits of sharing to those giving Dana, remind them that they obtain both tangible and intangible benefits, and let their selfishness (which naturally exists without training) motivate the action: they may receive tax benefits from donation (DON'T FORGET! if they desire tax benefits, please call or email the Ashram and document their donation - if you haven't undergone training in this, email or call!), and the gift will encourage benefits in their community. Frequently, they may ask you to pick their food from the trees; make sure to share some of the fruit or nuts with the giver, so they may better comprehend the true nature of their gift: friendship and love.
  • TRAINING RULES TO PRACTICE: This is an excellent opportunity to practice not taking what is not willingly given and not entering onto property without permission. Remember, the training rules are not only good spiritual practice, but also good common sense - and the law. But consider: what good do you do for an absent landowner who does not gain the benefits of giving Dana? How can you instruct in friendship or Dana to someone who is not present to receive that instruction? Your duty is not only to those recipients of Dana, but those who give. 
  • SANGHA: Do not neglect to give some of what you receive to those accomplishing the Dana - those giving, and those facilitating the giving (yourself). Give it to yourself with the same compassion as you would to anyone receiving the Dana. Do not forget, too, to give some upon the altar to those who cannot eat: in doing so, remember to give compassion for everyone; remember that no food is wasted, there is always enough to share. And share especially with those who are your friends, your students, your teachers, and all those you would properly venerate!

If you are in the Grand Junction area, let us know if you'd like to come with us in begging.
Thank you for all your help!