Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Numerical Discourses

Chapter 10: The Guarded Mind

3. Recollecting Generosity

1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.

2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “How should one investigate donors and almsgivers?”[1]

The monks said to the Bhagavān, “The Bhagavān is the king of teachings! Please, Bhagavān, teach the monks about the meaning of this. Once we’ve heard it, the monks will approve of it.”

3. The Bhagavān then told the monks, “Listen closely! Listen closely, and consider it well. I will discern the meaning of this for you.”

They replied, “Yes, Bhagavān!” The monks then accepted the teaching from the Bhagavān.

4. The Bhagavān told them, “A donor or almsgiver should be respectful like a devoted son who supports and helps his parents. Increasing the five aggregates, he manifests various aims in this land of Jambudvīpa.[2] Examine a donor’s ability to achieve human precepts, learning, samādhi, and wisdom. Monks, many are the benefits of the Three Jewels when they have no obstructions for those who can give you clothing, meals, furnishings, lodging, and medicine for illnesses.

5. “Therefore, monks, one should have kind thoughts towards a donor. Never forget small favors, not to mention the large ones. Always be kind to those donors and teach them pure conduct in body, speech, and thought, which cannot be estimated or delimited. Kindness in physical action, kindness in verbal action, and kindness in mental action ensures that the gifts that donors give will never be fruitless. They will obtain great fruit, achieve great fortune, and possess great fame that’s heard throughout the world and that has the Dharma flavor of sweet dew. Thus, you monks should train yourselves.”

6. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:

7. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.


  1. donors and almsgivers. C. 檀越、施主. These two terms are synonyms that can both translate S. dānapati, which means a lay supporter who makes donations to the Saṅgha. I’ve chosen a couple equivalent English expressions. [back]
  2. Jambudvīpa. C. 閻浮利. The C. transliterates something like Jambuliva or Jamburiva (without the final syllable). Standard G. would be Jaṃbudiva, but EĀ frequently converts -d- to -l- or -r-. C. speakers had difficulty distinguishing the two sounds, so it’s difficult to tell which. Brough (p. 96) notes that -d- and -r- do appear interchangeable in some G. texts. I’ve adopted the S. equivalent. [back]

Translator: Charles Patton

Last Revised: 23 March 2023