Although it is true that giving alms can bring great benefits, morality is more beneficial than charity. A person can gather more benefit by taking refuge in the Triple Gems—The Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha with devotion rather than by giving alms. Again better than just merely taking refuge in the Triple Gems is to observe the five moral precepts together with the refuge in the Triple Gems.
Comparison of Dana & Sila
It is generally stated, “Morality is more virtuous than generosity”. One might not be easily convinced, yet there is a deep significant underlying the statement. To comprehend this requires serious reasoning. In this world, to protect and safeguard others from woe and suffering is a noble deed. To enhance the welfare and prosperity of other is also another noble deed. Dana helps others to be prosperous. Sila (Morality) protects others from woe and suffering.
The Function of Dana
One is responsible for one’s deeds. Let us suppose that a person is suffering from poverty due to his own Kamma; giving assistance to this poor person amounts to Dana. Bhikkhus are not poor persons in a real sense, but they need four requisites for their sustenance; hence they are needy persons. Therefore offering alms and requisites to Bhikkhus also amounts to Dana.
Some Bhikkhus or abbots receive plenty of offerings and are well sustained. Yet if you offer them what they still need, this also is helping the needy. Even if you offer them things which they do not need, this also means helping the needy, because the recipients usually give away the offerings to other needy Bhikkhus and laity. Whether you help a few, or countless persons, Dana is noble, Dana is virtuous. Those who really understand the benefits of Dana will always find that Dana is a rightful deed.
___Abstaince From Killing (Panatipata-virati)___
As for Sila its function is protecting other living beings from suffering. The first of the Five Precept is to refrain from killing all living beings. Let us imagine the dire consequences of breaching this first precept. Take into consideration the woe that befalls the victim. Imagine the number of marine animals, cattle, poultry, etc., that would be killed through non-observance of the First Precept of Sila. Also try to visualize rampant homicide that would eventually lead to war, spreading bloodshed globally. It is a glaring fact that the First Precept should not be transgressed because this would cause catastrophe to one and every inhabitant of this earth.
By observing the precept of non-killing, you save the lives of one, two, three and other countless beings. Sila ensures the safety of all beings and augments the flourishing of Metta, Karuna and Mudita towards all living beings. Thus the world will become an auspicious abode where all sentient beings live happily ever after.
Now that you have seen the benevolence of Dana and of the First Precept, you will be convinced that Sila is more virtuous than Dana. We can compare the magnitude of joy felt by a recipient of gifts and that of a man pardoned from death. The latter will surely be thousands of time more jubilant than the former. In the same way, the joy of a starving man who was given food and the joy of a condemned man who was pardoned from capital punishment are vastly different. The former can in no way compare with the latter.
___Abstaince From Theft (Adinnadana-virati)___
People experience intense distress when their belongings are stolen or robbed. On a large scale the ruling monarch and the royal family together with the citizens of a country feel very much distressed when their land is invaded and conquered by others. The conquered country becomes poorer and poorer because the people of that country cannot use to full extent the natural resources of their own land. So robbing or stealing causes affliction and misery to the victims. If people refrain from stealing, this world would be good riddance of such distress from this world. Therefore, Adinnadana-virati , abstaince from stealing , is a Sila (Morality) which frees all human beings from suffering and woe and creates physical as well as mental peace.
___Abstaince from Sexual Misconduct (Kamesu-micchacara-virati)___
Ordinary world-lings (Puthujjana) are usually very fond of sensual pleasures (Kamaguna) especially the pleasure of touch or bodily pleasure. No sensible person would share, let alone give away, his source of sensual pleasure, i.e., his spouse. Every man is very much attached to his better half, and is never hesitant to defend her fiercely. He might be able to tolerate loss of material property to a certain extent, but not the least misdemeanor on his wife. Therefore to abstain from sexual misconduct means abstaining from causing pain and suffering to other people. Abstinence from adultery or sexual transgression will thus bring peace and calm to everyone living in this world.
___Abstenence From Lying (Musavada-virati)___
Those who have had the experience of being cheated, swindled or told lies will suffer from some form of wrath, though somewhat subtle. The adverse effects of being cheated are obvious. Some liars are so well versed in their trade that they can even cheat the whole country. Today, there are many sectarian leaders who propagate their faith professing it to be the absolute truth. Therefore millions of people are led astray, finally encountering an infinite number of catastrophes. To abstain from lying, therefore, amounts to protecting people from suffering.
[Even among Buddhists, there happen to be some bogus preachers who indulge in propagating false beliefs; and the uneducated, sadly enough, have great faith in such persons and hold them in high esteem. This is food for thought.]
___Abstinence From Taking Intoxicants (Suramerayamajja-pama-datthana-virati)___
One who consumes some form of intoxicant will of course suffer from bad results in his next existences. But if he just drinks by himself and causes no harm to others, it is somewhat tolerable. Yet most drinkers drink alcoholic beverages and when they are drunk, they are no more hesitant to breach the other precepts. They are willing to quarrel, to kill, to steal, or to tell lies. Just as a ringleader will not commit any criminal offense himself, but make his gangsters do the evil deeds, so alcohol or intoxicants cause addicts to commit atrocities without restraint. They would no longer be reluctant to commit murder, rape, arson, theft, etc. Becoming a chronic alcoholic means following the path of abandonment and causing suffering to one’s immediate family. Later this alcoholic causes misery to everybody in his community. Those who abstain from intoxicants will free the world from such misery and distress.
After understanding the benefits of observing the Five Precepts, we can carry on to study, in a similar manner, the blessings of samma-ajiva (right livelihood). We have found out so far that the observance of Five Precepts will save the world from misery and anxiety. Now we will fully realize that Sila (Morality) is better than Dana (Generosity). In this view each and every one should be mindful to observe the Five Precepts.
May all members be able to observe the Five Precepts and propagate Metta (Loving-kindness) and Karuna (Compassion) to all sentient beings! May all members be able to observe the Five Precepts well not only because of afraid of evil consequences but also because of putting into the victims’ shoes or altruistic-minded!
Doc Versions Here In My Group:
Title- Comparison of Dana & Sila (1)
Title- Comparison of Dana & Sila (2)
Title- Comparison of Dana & Sila (3)
Title- Comparison of Dana & Sila (4)
Title- Comparison of Dana & Sila (5)
Title- Meditation Is More Beneficial Than Morality (Sila Vs Bhavana)