Southern Dharma Retreat Center Southern Dharma Retreat Center HomeContact Southern Dharma Retreat CenterDirections to Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Southern Dharma Retreat Center About SDRC About Retreats Retreat Schedule Scholarships Generosity Volunteer SDRC Store Practice Community
Southern Dharma Retreat Center
Southern Dharma Retreat Center Southern Dharma Retreat Center Welcome to Southern Dharma Retreat Center

About Dana

Generosity is both a spiritual value and a spiritual practice. It is universal, taught around the world by all major world religions. Generosity is one of the five pillars of Islam. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism also teach generosity as a core value and practice.

At Southern Dharma, we use the ancient Pali word "Dana" as a synonym for generosity. Like the people of India in the Buddha's time, the center uses the word "Dana" to name the practice of generosity, as well as contributions made in a spirit of generosity.

Dana is about so much more than simply writing a check or making a donation. It's about—

  • Living in love and trust and connection rather than self-centered fear and separation
  • Opening our hearts to give as we have received
  • Creating a world of abundance rather than a world of scarcity
  • Honoring our oneness and interconnections

Ultimately, Dana as a value and as a practice is about the kind of person you want to be, and the kind of world you want to participate in creating.

The gospel story of Jesus feeding the multitudes illustrates the kinds of miracles made possible through the practice of generosity. One day when a large crowd had gathered to hear Jesus teach, the disciples informed Jesus that many were hungry and needed to eat. Jesus blessed the small amount of food available—just a few fish and a few loaves of bread—and then started one or two baskets circulating among the crowd. When everyone had had their fill, many more baskets of food were left-over than Jesus had originally blessed.

Where did all the left-over food come from? It seems most likely that those who had food put into the baskets, while those in need of food took from the baskets. Herein we discover the miracle of the abundance of the universe in which we live. When we humans practice open-hearted generosity, freely sharing what is ours to share, we participate in creating a world in which everyone's needs are met, a world in which there is always more than enough for all.

At Southern Dharma, we trust in the practice of generosity to support both the center and teachers who lead Southern Dharma retreats. We invite Dana for both teachers and for SDRC at the end of every teacher-led retreat.

Teachers are not paid to teach at Southern Dharma. The center reimburses teachers only for their travel expenses. Instead of getting paid, teachers come to Southern Dharma trusting in the generosity of those who attend their retreat to support them in their teaching. In this way, those who teach at Southern Dharma follow in the tradition of the greatest wisdom teachers of all time—people like the Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed—none of whom were paid to teach, all of whom relied upon the generosity of those touched by their teaching to help meet their own personal needs for food, clothing, shelter, and so forth. Inevitably, it seems, retreatants at the end of Southern Dharma retreats practice generosity toward their teacher(s) in ways that inspire our continued reliance upon Teacher Dana as the best way for the center to support teachers financially.

Southern Dharma itself is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Retreat per-diems cover only about 65% of the center's annual operating costs. Most of the remainder comes from Dana, and the Dana given to SDRC by retreatants at the end of every retreat constitutes a large percentage of that Dana. Every year, the generosity of retreatants allows us to keep our per-diem comparatively low, to make our retreats as affordable as possible to as many as possible, to offer scholarships to those who could not attend a retreat without financial support, and to thrive as a vibrant center realizing its mission for present and future generations. Every year, the Retreat Dana Southern Dharma receives bears witness to the generosity of the human spirit.