The Practice of Generosity at Common Ground Retreat at Prairie Farm

Dana – the Pali Word for Generosity

Common Ground Meditation Center has adopted the practice of “Dana” as both a spiritual practice for the community and a practical way to meet the financial needs of the retreat property. Dana is the Pali word for generosity. Throughout Buddhist history spiritual teachings have been offered to people free of charge. In turn, those receiving the teachings supported the monks, nuns, lay teachers, and various centers as best they could – completing the circle of giving and receiving. In this way the teachers, students, and centers were protected by the spirit of generosity.

Dana as a Spiritual Practice

As a spiritual practice, generosity invites us to explore the effects of giving and receiving freely. Every participant is asked to reflect both on the joy of receiving the retreat space, teachings, and programs; and also on the joy of supporting the retreat property. There is no right way to practice dana except to bring greater and greater awareness to the process of giving and receiving. This is an opportunity to see any fear, greed, and confusion as well as the basic goodness of a generous act. Mindfulness provides the necessary space needed to recognize and act on our generous intentions. This is often not an easy practice. At times we feel uncomfortable because we think that we did not give enough or that we gave too much. Once again, we simply take refuge in mindfulness. Only by listening can we discover an appropriate level of support.

Dana and Prairie Farm

The retreat property exists only because of people’s generosity. In fact, over $800,000 has already been freely given to support this beautiful retreat space, as well as countless hours of work renovating and maintaining the building. We can be inspired by this history of giving, from the example of the Buddha on down to all the people in our community who have contributed their practice, efforts and resources over the years. Each of us in our own way can be part of this tradition of generosity.

Continuing a tradition from the Buddhist monasteries in Asia, the retreat opportunities are offered free of charge in the spirit of generosity. This offering is possible because people like you have contributed in the past. The current operating costs for the retreat center are over $1000 per week. All future renovations or improvements to make the place more accessible for more people will depend on funds being offered above the amount needed to maintain the current operation. We do not provide a suggested donation, but instead ask that community members reflect on how they might support the continuation of this wonderful practice place in a way that brings them joy and happiness. The retreat property is completely dependent on the gifts offered by supporters. All donations to Common Ground are tax deductible. All donations by check are recorded and contributors will receive an acknowledgement at the end of the year for tax purposes. This way of supporting each other is meant to be a source of joy and connection, and an essential step in awakening the heart of freedom. Please feel free to ask questions and give feedback. This is a creative process and we expect that our understanding of generosity will deepen as we continue to practice and talk together.

Common Ground Meditation Center