Volition (Cetana) is of paramount importance in performing charitable deeds. No charitable deed will arise, if there is no generous volition. Cetana is of three kinds, namely, pubba, munca and apara. The volition that arises at the time of offerings is called munca-cetana, which is the true essence of Dana.
-Before performing dana, one collects offerings pondering: “I’m going to perform a charitable deed, the mundane and supra-mundane benefits of which will accompany me life after life”. This kind of volition is called “pubba-cetana”.
-While performing dana, one gives the offerings to donees pondering: “I’m getting the invaluable seed of merits from the objects that are of no real value”. This kind of volition is called “munca-cetana”.
-After performing dana, one reflects repeatedly on one’s donation pondering: “I’ve already performed a charitable deed which is praised by the wise, “Well-done, well-done!” This kind of volition is called “apara-cetana”.
The dana performed with these three kinds of volition can yield numerous benefits. It is very important for the donor to be endowed with these three types of volition.
Moreover, to make alms-giving yield great benefits, the donee must also be endowed with certain qualities. He must be free from lust or trying to be free from lust; he must be free from anger or trying to be free from anger; he must be free from delusion or trying to be free from delusion. The donees who have already discarded lust, anger and delusion or those who are still making attempts to be devoid of lust, anger and delusion are the most worthy donees whilst the others are ordinary donees. Thus both donor and donee should be endowed with their respective qualities.
Therefore, to accomplish an act of charity, four factors; namely, donor, donee, object of offering and volition, must be present. Only if the object of offering is obtained lawfully, will the donation be of great benefit.
The extent of the benefits of dana are immeasurable just like water in the ocean which cannot be measured with cups and pots.