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SOTOZEN.COM > Library > Sermons > Joy of Giving and Sharing - Fuse 布施 by Rev. Shugen Komagata part 1


Joy of Giving and Sharing - Fuse 布施 by Rev. Shugen Komagata part 1

In the fourth chapter of the Shushogi, the modern compilation of passages taken from Eminent Ancestor Dogen's most important work, the Shobogenzo, there are the four integrative methods of bodhisattvas (Shishobo) that benefit all living beings: 1) giving (fuse), 2) kind speech (aigo), 3) beneficial deeds (rigyo), and 4) cooperation (doji). These are the practices of the bodhisattva vows, actions that one does for the sake of others without thoughts of gaining anything in return.

In this article, I will focus on the idea of "giving," or "fuse" in Japanese. According to Sotoshu's official translation of Shushogi, "giving" means "not to covet," but to share. People are encouraged to give, since "in principle… …nothing is truly one's own." Everything in one's life is there to share, not possess for one's personal gain. When contemplating the seed of humankind's suffering, it is innate selfish attachment to things that fuels the vicious cycle of birth and rebirth. It is also humankind's seemingly uncontrollable and insatiable desire to possess things that often prevents people from giving and sharing things—both material and immaterial.

In Shushogi, it reads, "we should give even a penny or a single blade of grass of resources, for it will help establish good roots in this life as well as the next. Without seeking reward or thanks, we simply share our strength with others."

When people make the act of giving a part of their core identity, their actions naturally lead them to understand and appreciate the value of what they have. More importantly, it provides them the opportunity to enhance their awareness of their existence in this world of interdependence.

It is very difficult to live one's life void of interdependence. People are often under the assumption that they can live their day-to-day lives independently because they manage their own daily routine under their own power and ability. However, they are not completely independent in an interdependent world, for even one of the basic necessities in life—food—relies on interaction with people. For example, the bowl of baked beans on the table comes from the hands that cooked it. The hands that cooked the food bought the beans from the grocer at the market. The grocer at the market obtained the vegetable from a distributor. The distributor obtained the beans from a farmer that grew vegetables. The vegetable came from the plants growing on the farm. This is only one example of interdependence. Each individual will find countless ways they are dependent on others or even the environment around them. In truth, there are many people who are able to sustain their lives only at the mercy of others. Thus, it is easy to understand how the practice of giving is a positive and compassionate way to connect and interact with others.

To be continued.