What is Dana?
Dana is a Sanskrit word (related to “donate” in English, pronounced Dahnah) that means “generosity,” with—as my teacher Harvey Aronson describes—the nuanced, expansive connotation that includes both, ‘giving freely” and “mutual blessing.”
Dana benefits both the giver and the receiver. It’s a mutual blessing. A chance for the student to bless and thank the teacher with an offering that opens the student’s heart. And also a chance for the teacher to bless the student in appreciation of the blessings and gifts the teacher receives from the students presence and questions.
Opening of a student's heart is a key component of Dana. Consciously choosing to honor the teacher often involves stretching the "generosity" muscle—hence the ancient recognition of Dana as a spiritual practice. Cultivating an open generous heart in all areas of our lives is what it's all about.
The offering is always optional and it is important that each person give whatever “feels” right for them according to their means. For some that is a simple thank you, for others it is a financial donation, for others it's home grown eggs, or chocolate…. you get the idea.
Why is Dana given at a Retreat?
When offering a retreat, Caren’s intent is to follow the ancient tradition of offering the teachings that she has received, “freely.” This allows us to price our retreats to cover just the direct and administrative costs—which helps keep them affordable for everyone. It also means that we rely on the generosity of students to offer support for Caren’s time in preparing and giving the teachings.
How is Dana Given at the Retreat?
Dana is given at the end of a retreat. It’s a precious and lovely few moments of one on one connection. The student offers a scarf/katha to the teacher along with their Dana offering—if they are giving one. The teacher accepts the scarf and offering and then "gives back the blessing" by placing the scarf/katha over the student's head with a personal blessing. If you have your own scarf or Katha, please bring it. Otherwise we always have extras you can borrow. We also have envelopes for those who forget to bring something to put their Dana offering in.