The Time of the Ancestors


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Lesson 11

Pitṛpakṣa Practice Day 10: Donate Money

We are officially more than halfway through this time… how has it been for you? How are your practices going?

Remember, something is better than nothing. Even if you haven’t started yet, or feel stuck or overwhelmed, remember that your effort can be as simple as going outside and watering a tree, or siting quietly for a few minutes and sending love and blessings to your ancestors.

Our subconscious develops for one reason: to help us survive. Anything that we believe is necessary to our survival – physical, social, or spiritual – becomes part of our subconscious patterns, and this is what we inherit from our ancestors, and also what we pass on.

There’s one thing in particular almost all of us believe our survival depends on. And as a result, we all have unconscious habits and beliefs around it. Can you guess what it is?


Because we believe our survival is linked to money, it inevitably activates our deepest fears and desires. What we believe we can earn, how we manage our money, and even how we feel about it are often things that were passed on to us.

Take a moment now to examine your own financial life and how you handle money. You will probably see that many of your instinctive financial habits are things you learned from the generations before you.

You might have fear, pride, or simply ignorance about money and how it works. Whether your ancestors were wealthy or poor, they might have abused money or abused others (or even themselves) for the sake of money.

So one major way to clean up this area of our ancestral karma is to transform it into a dharmic practice that benefits all beings. Today’s traditional practice is very simple and extremely potent: to perform dāna, to donate money.

The Sanskrit word dāna simply means “giving”. It has the same linguistic root as the Latin word donare, “to give”, which is also where the English word donate comes from.

The teachings say that money flows from Life itself. The Goddess Lakṣṃī, who embodies the beautiful, generous, and life-giving power of the divine, is depicted as having money pouring limitlessly out of her hand. Where She goes, life blossoms. Her consort is Lord Viṣṇu, the protector of dharma and the sustainer of the universe. Ultimately, they function as one unified power. What this reminds us of is that one way to sustain all life is to give money regularly and generously.

Note that giving money is a unique and different type of sacred practice from other types of giving, and they are not interchangeable. For example, donating your time in service is not the same as donating money. Ideally, we want to do both simultaneously because they impact and benefit us in different ways. One transforms our actions; the other transforms our finances.

When we offer money out of compassion and in service to dharma, we can transform the instinctive fear, conditioned beliefs, and selfish tendencies that have caused suffering for many generations.

Things to keep in mind:

-Traditionally, for this practice, we either donate money to the needy, or else to recognized servants of dharma (monks, gurus, sādhus, pilgrims, temples, ashrams, etc).

-Release any need to control how or when the money is used. And, try to give without seeking any kind of acknowledgment, visibility, or gratitude. As we move into a more and more image-driven world, this can be a welcome challenge not to share and promote your good works, but simply to do them. There’s a traditional saying that if the right hand gives, even the left hand doesn’t need to know about it.

-As you give, dedicate the fruits and blessings of your giving to your ancestors with humility, gratitude, and respect.

The tradition promotes sustainability and balance; give as much as you can, but without creating harm to you, either. The amount you give does not matter; the love and respect and gratitude with which you give absolutely matters.

If you have any questions, or want to share your experience, you can do so by emailing us at

Teacher: Shivani Hawkins

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