A noble Disciple recollects her own generosity thus:
'It is a gain for me, it is well gained by me, that in a generation obsessed by the stain of stinginess, I dwell at home with a mind devoid of the stain of stinginess, freely generous, open-handed, delighted in relinquishment, one devoted to charity, delighting in giving and sharing.'
"When one recollects her own generosity thus, on that occasion her mind is not obsessed by lust, hatred or delusion: her mind is straight." An. 116
The Buddha, when delivering a talk to those who had not yet become his disciples, always started with a gradual discourse that began on the virtue of giving. Only after those present had begun to understand its value would he continue. He didn't do this because he wanted something from them; on the contrary, he wanted to give them something --- a firm footing on which to build their spiritual journey. This is because giving underlies and supports all of our efforts to free the mind of defilements.
Through the outward act of giving the inward quality of generosity is cultivated. When one considers that the goal of the path is the complete eradication of greed, hatred and delusion, which leaves the mind clear, radiant and free from suffering, one can see how success on the journey, in large part, depends upon our ability to give. Cultivation of generosity, through the act of giving, directly undermines greed and hatred while strengthening compassion and equanimity. As these wholesome mind states are generated it becomes easier and easier to become disenchanted with delusional mind states, enabling the mind to quiet down and rest in radiance.
Like the Buddha's gradual discourse, our journey along the path to radiant mind is gradual. Here, too, the cultivation of generosity is essential. We may not be ready to reach Nibbāna, but as we are reminded in Dhammapada 224, generosity is also a quality which helps us to reach heavenly realms.
Speak the truth, yield not to anger:
Give even if you only have a little.
By these three means
One can reach the presence of the gods.
So, whichever goal we hope to achieve, Nibbana or Heavenly Realms, the simple act of giving is not so very simple after all. It is the means by which we open the mind to higher states of being. That is why the Buddha gave this knowledge to all who came to hear him speak, it is essential; and it is the same knowledge that we need today to move quickly along the path to Radiance.
Venerable Sarani Karuna, Bhikkhuni