Updated: Jul 12, 2022
A Requisite For Spiritual Progress
"Without abandoning these five qualities, one is incapable of entering and remaining in the first jhana...the second jhana...the third jhana...the fourth jhana; incapable of realizing the fruit of stream-entry...the fruit of once-returning...the fruit of non-returning...arahantship. Which five? Stinginess as to one's monastery [lodgings], stinginess as to one's family [of supporters], stinginess as to one's gains, stinginess as to one's status, and ingratitude.
"With the abandoning of these five qualities, one is capable of entering and remaining in the first jhana...the second jhana...the third jhana...the fourth jhana; capable of realizing the fruit of stream-entry...the fruit of once-returning...the fruit of non-returning...arahantship..."
— AN 5.256-263 (Anguttara Nikaya)
Basically what this quote from the Buddha is saying is that unless we attend to whatever habits we have of being stingy, we will not be able to progress on this path. The jhanas that are referred to are states of mind that are very still and calm. The ability to still and calm the mind, at least to some degree, is the foundation of all Buddhist practice, both on and off the cushion (meaning formal practice and daily life practice).
When there is generosity in the heart and mind, it is bright, happy, and much more able to settle. When there is fear and stinginess in the mind, it is tight, agitated, and less able to settle. There’s no morality about it, it’s just how it is. If we want to be able to train our hearts and minds to settle, we need to make some inroads on any habits of fear and stinginess that we are aware of. So, when we become mindful of being stingy, that’s good practice as it’s the first step toward transforming that unwholesome (leading to suffering) habit of heart and mind.