Generosity and detachment – spiritual virtue no. 5

Generosity is, for once, a classic virtue. In Islam it’s called Zakat: the duty to give a percentage of your possessions to the poor.

Generosity is linked to another classic virtue: detachment. In both Hinduism and Buddhism attachment to stuff, money and status is seen as a problem. Letting go of that in the form of generosity is spiritual work. In Christianity too giving to the poor is a central virtue.

Attachment to status is subtler. A lot of people notice this only when it becomes a problem: the boss that ends up in a retirement home. The socialite (is that still a word?) that can’t keep up anymore because of Alzheimer.

At such moments letting go becomes a necessity. This is the reason that in countries like Japan Buddhism is for old people: that’s when letting go becomes the central life lesson.

In my series on spiritual virtues, norms and values.

2 thoughts on “Generosity and detachment – spiritual virtue no. 5”

  1. Pingback: Digest for 02/11/09 | Buddhism Info
  2. I like this one… it is also like the Ch’an/Zen humility mixed with their and Christian monastic asceticism… of course these are hard for many people to do. However, the more educated one gets, the easier it is to be detached from less important things… but one may need more things to do more educated work. Then one must distinguish between good teachers and Sophists to not learn more than is usable. Hopefully that gives more of a chance for all of society to increase in education. There is only so much one can learn in a lifetime, but the process should continue for those who remain.

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