Offering Dāna for

Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat, Dharma TeachersThe teachings on this retreat are offered via the ancient tradition of dāna (generosity) as a mutual exchange of generosity between the teachers and the attendees.

Dāna is traditionally given at the start of a retreat.  You are very welcome to offer dāna to the teachers when you arrive using the dāna bowls onsite – an excellent personal ceremony for starting your retreat.  If you prefer to offer dāna electronically below before arriving, we’ve provided a virtual dāna bowl below.


Why are the retreat teachings offered on the basis of dāna?

The practice of generosity is central to all our spiritual unfoldment, and is also an important engine of positive transformative change. Imagine a culture where generosity is the norm, and you’ll understand what we’re working towards. Pretty wonderful, right? Our lineage of spiritual teachers has always taught on the basis of dāna, and we are committed to this practice and its development in the West.

Dāna is also a radical and – we believe – viable economic alternative to capitalism, which our planet would really benefit from. We all know there must be something better than capitalism, or its hungry cousin, consumerism; we maintain that, together, we can offer a financial model that is based in life-affirming mutual support. Please join us in co-creating this promising economic alternative.

In case you’re wondering, Planet Dharma operates almost entirely on the basis of dāna and its energy counterpart, karma yoga, the path of service. This is very rare and it’s something we’re very proud of – it’s a high achievement in trust in the strength of human virtues.

It’s worth noting that this is altogether different from the commitment to poverty that the Franciscans and other traditions embrace. While those practices also have many benefits (St. Francis at St. Claire – what remarkable human beings!), we believe dāna, karma yoga and abundance are mutually supportive.

Why is dāna traditionally offered at the beginning of a retreat?

The practice of generosity is the essence of the path to freedom – the first crack of light in our ego-protected lives. Moments of generosity open up space in our hearts, alleviates fear that we don’t have enough, and allows us to relax our clinging.

In this way, generosity is the first and most important pillar of our spiritual journey. It allows us to experience one another more fully, opening up a space for receiving and learning.

Because of this beautiful quality dāna has for opening a space in our hearts for learning, dāna is generally offered before an appointment, class or retreat.

In addition, giving dāna at the beginning establishes an openness and sense of trust that we will receive what we need for our growth.

How much to give?

Because generosity is so subjective and contextual, and it’s up to each person to determine what “generosity” means, in our ideal world we wouldn’t provide any guidelines.

However, we’ve learned that the uniqueness or newness of this practice can leave people feeling somewhat adrift or paralyzed, so we are experimenting with some guidelines.

One traditional guideline is to offer dāna equal or more than the costs of food and accommodation – this is establishing a message to ourselves that wisdom and learning are of higher value to us that our basic physical needs.

Another approach is to consider what dāna you might offer for a single class, and work forwards from that – a two week retreat will have around twelve classes as well as group sits and opportunity for interviews.

Or you can simply check in with your heart quietly what feels right and what is sustainable. The amount you choose is completely at your discretion.

A heart-based practice of conscious giving:

You might find the practice below useful to connect with the beauty of offering dāna and as a way to make the offering special for your retreat.

1) Take a few quiet breaths and center yourself. Spend a few moments to reflect on each of the below:

  • the beauty and power of dāna practice;
  • the value of receiving direct, personalized teachings from lineage holders in a recognized spiritual tradition;
  • the reality of your financial situation.

2) Spend another few moments contacting a sense of health, strength and abundance. You have a healthy mind, a body, senses, the good karma to have heard the teachings, and conditions to support your practice of Dharma. Celebrate this!

3) You might try something like this short prayer, or please use your own words.

May this practice of dāna open up a space inside me to learn and receive.

May this gift support the teachers and teachings for the benefit of many other people.

May this gift directly support my own awakening through a strong dāna practice.

This gift, myself the giver, and the teachers are all impermanent – with this in mind I give lightly and generously, for the benefit of all beings!

4) Now check with your heart and mind what amount feels both consistent with your situation, and expressive of your aspiration. Remember, you are free to offer whatever amount of dāna feels good for you right now.

How can I learn more about dāna?

You can find more guidelines and also some heart-based practices you can use here:

And look out too in our Clear Sky newsletter for the upcoming launch of our online self-study course Dāna 101: The Amazing Practice of Generosity


To give an offering of Dāna: Click on the Alms Bowl below.