One of the announcements I am expected to make after the Saturday talk is a request for donations. This is always a tricky one. I try not to be too repetitive, but I tend to use phrases that I have heard former inos use. One ino used to ask other people to make this request, a different person each week as I remember, which is a good way to keep it fresh. If the speaker has made a reference to generosity, or dana paramita, the perfection of giving, then that can be a good springboard. Linda Ruth talked recently about how the pleasure centre of the brain is activated in similar ways by three activities, giving, eating and sex, and I was tempted to follow that by saying, well, we can take care of the first two for you with our donation box and lunch, but the sex you will have to take care of for yourself - but I wasn't in a bold mood that day so I didn't.
In my re-reading of the Platform Sutra, I was struck by a line of Hui-neng's in response to questions from Governor Wei. The governor was asking about the famous exchange between Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu, in particular the idea of accruing merit by doing good deeds. In his verse at the end of the chapter, Hui-neng declares 'Attaining the way does not come from donating money'. I have been tempted to quote this, but I think it would be a little off-putting, and I am reminded of the famous speech given by Katagiri Roshi to a room full of donors, which he began by reminding them 'you're all going to die'.
As we are currently focusing on the Bodhisattva path,the words of the Diamond Sutra also hold good in this regard: 'Moreover, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who gives a gift should not be supported by a thing, nor should he be supported anywhere...For, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva, the great being should give gifts in such a way that she is not supported by the notion of a sign. And why? Because the heap of merit of that Bodhi-being, who unsupported gives a gift, is not easy to measure'. In other words, we should give without expectation of result or reward. This is the perfection of giving. Now I just need to find a way to distill all of that into about thirty seconds of talking.