Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

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Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:56 pm

Greetings


Is the sharing of merit a Buddhist teaching, or something that came a long later?

My reason for asking is that it seems to go against the Buddhas teachings that beings are responsible for their own Kamma


Suttas such as this one


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

teach that kamma vipaka cant be changed despite praying and ceremonies etc

The only good i can see that comes from merit sharing is an increase in wholesome states such as compassion in those who do it

Or am i understanding merit sharing wrongly?

Metta
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:43 pm

One of the Buddha's teachings is on mudita, finding joy in the goodness of others. When we invite others to "share in our merits" what we are doing is inviting them to cultivate mudita. We can do this with recently departed family and friends who may still be hovering around as a ghost or deva. We can even do this with living friends and family when we tell them about the good in our lives. Too often we are quick to share the bad news and shy to share the good news. Sharing good news give other people the opportunity to cultivate mudita, which is meritorious for them. In this way we "share" the merit of our good deeds.

Merit can't actually be shared in the sense of "here you take a portion of my merit". But it can be shared in the sense of "come share in my happiness".
- Peter

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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:50 pm

Greetings


Merit can't actually be shared in the sense of "here you take a portion of my merit". But it can be shared in the sense of "come share in my happiness".


Thanks peter, that actually makes a bit more sense, it always came accross to me as "here is my merit, please take it"


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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:10 pm

Yes, thanks you Peter, that makes a lot of sense :)
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:29 pm

Well said, Peter.

Metta,
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby SeerObserver » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:49 pm

Awesome synopsis, Peter.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Individual » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:03 am

clw_uk wrote:Greetings


Is the sharing of merit a Buddhist teaching, or something that came a long later?

Only in the context of developing the Brahmaviharas. However, the idea of karma as something physical or tangible (something that is "stored", "gathered", "collected," and therefore, capable of being "shared") is something that came later. It is founded upon a common superstitious misunderstanding of the meaning of karma.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:17 am

Here's something from the Tipitika...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... index.html
Petavatthu
Stories of the Hungry Ghosts
Pv I.5: Tirokudda Kanda — Hungry Shades Outside the Walls {Pv 3; verses 14-25} [Thanissaro]. Some of your ancestors and deceased loved ones may have been reborn as hungry ghosts, no longer able to fend for themselves. In this poem the Buddha explains that it is to your long-term benefit — and to theirs — that you honor their memory with gifts.

The verses are rather touching...

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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:38 am

Craig, great question :anjali:
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Individual » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:37 pm

Also, from the Dhammapada 12: The Self

By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depended on oneself; no one can purify another.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:39 am

Very good observation, Individual.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:12 pm

One must be careful to avoid the wrong deterministic view that no one can help anyone else in any way since they alone are responsible for their own kamma.

Sharing of merit is one of the ten kusala kammas:

Transference of Merit (pattidāna) is the volition of asking others to participate in wholesome deeds and thereby to share in the resultant merit.

When doing any wholesome deeds such as giving alms, listening to Dhamma, or practising meditation, one can multiply the benefits by urging family and friends to participate. The beneficial effects of transference of merit is the ability to give in abundance.

The Buddha was reluctant to teach the Dhamma as it was profound and beyond the comprehension of many. However, he decided to teach because some at least would be able to understand it, and without his teaching they would have not gained liberation from suffering.

Sometimes the Buddha extolled his own virtues — not to boast, but to inspire others to have full confidence in him.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Will » Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:19 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:One must be careful to avoid the wrong deterministic view that no one can help anyone else in any way since they alone are responsible for their own kamma.

Sharing of merit is one of the ten kusala kammas:

Transference of Merit (pattidāna) is the volition of asking others to participate in wholesome deeds and thereby to share in the resultant merit.

When doing any wholesome deeds such as giving alms, listening to Dhamma, or practising meditation, one can multiply the benefits by urging family and friends to participate. The beneficial effects of transference of merit is the ability to give in abundance.

The Buddha was reluctant to teach the Dhamma as it was profound and beyond the comprehension of many. However, he decided to teach because some at least would be able to understand it, and without his teaching they would have not gained liberation from suffering.

Sometimes the Buddha extolled his own virtues — not to boast, but to inspire others to have full confidence in him.



"one can multiply the benefits by urging family and friends to participate." Multiply benefits to oneself only, whether those urged participate or not?

All my Mahayana background makes this hard to fathom.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:09 pm

By giving with one's own hand, one makes merit. By urging others to give, one makes merit. If they also give, after being urged to give, they make merit. Even if they don't give, if they have the wholesome thought of rejoicing in your giving, they make merit.

Likewise for all other wholesome actions. Sharing increases the merit for both parties.

However, if those urged turn around and try to discourage, or succeed in discouraging you from doing wholesome actions. Then they make demerit, and you lose merit, or make demerit if you adopt their negative view, e.g. that giving charity, observing morality, or practising meditation is just a wasted effort.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Goedert » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:52 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:By giving with one's own hand, one makes merit. By urging others to give, one makes merit. If they also give, after being urged to give, they make merit. Even if they don't give, if they have the wholesome thought of rejoicing in your giving, they make merit.

Likewise for all other wholesome actions. Sharing increases the merit for both parties.

However, if those urged turn around and try to discourage, or succeed in discouraging you from doing wholesome actions. Then they make demerit, and you lose merit, or make demerit if you adopt their negative view, e.g. that giving charity, observing morality, or practising meditation is just a wasted effort.


Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Some schools hold a deterministic view. They say that it is possible to send other beings, after the break up of the body, to a rebirth in the Pure Abodes of Existence by making a ritual called Powa. This is a hard thing that lies beiond normal comprehension and therefore there is no registry of Buddha teaching such technique.

Your explanations, Bhante Pesala, is far more rational to understanding and to practice.

Thank you.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Will » Sat Sep 04, 2010 8:13 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:By giving with one's own hand, one makes merit. By urging others to give, one makes merit. If they also give, after being urged to give, they make merit. Even if they don't give, if they have the wholesome thought of rejoicing in your giving, they make merit.

Likewise for all other wholesome actions. Sharing increases the merit for both parties.

However, if those urged turn around and try to discourage, or succeed in discouraging you from doing wholesome actions. Then they make demerit, and you lose merit, or make demerit if you adopt their negative view, e.g. that giving charity, observing morality, or practising meditation is just a wasted effort.


What you write is sensible Bhante. Yet it seems that practicing virtue quietly would make it virtually impossible to encourage same. One has to either be known as a merit-making person or tell people that one is so, by encouraging them to do as I do.

Ledi Sayadaw wrote that basically indifference to the kammic results is the highest form of virtue. One is genuinely selfless and so does not even think of how, where or who one's kammas affect. But that is pretty far away from most of us worldlings. So what is wrong with aspiring to that state by thinking to oneself "May all merit from such & such acts be dedicated to all beings"? That transference will not happen, but at least it helps us get in the less self centered and eventually selfless state of mind.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Sep 04, 2010 8:58 pm

Hi Will,
I obviously can't speak for Bhikkhu Pesala, but here are my thoughts on it!

it is through constantly being with someone that you know them as good or bad, if you see someone being generous and can see they are a good person you may wish to emulate the good qualities of that person, so by simply being who they are they are encouraging others to be likewise, this was something the great disciple Kasappa favoured doing.

there may also be people who are good, or not all that good yet encourage openly others to do good, all these people are encouraging us in different ways, one has modesty, not liking others to know how good they are, and the others may be trying to hide how bad they are, or not.

Merit can also be seen as simply doing the right thing, and this doesn't necessarily mean doing it for all to see, but doing it to strengthen & cultivate the good, and being someone of integrity, and benefit to others, even if it is simply by cultivating the good and acting from that, that is benefiting all other beings to some extent like dominoes, or possibly more like a ripple in water, depending on the person/action.

sharing merit, as it were, isn't necessarily openly encouraging others to do likewise, or wishing for others to benefit through a dedication, but taking that wish with us in our hearts, into our lives.

Will wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:By giving with one's own hand, one makes merit. By urging others to give, one makes merit. If they also give, after being urged to give, they make merit. Even if they don't give, if they have the wholesome thought of rejoicing in your giving, they make merit.

Likewise for all other wholesome actions. Sharing increases the merit for both parties.

However, if those urged turn around and try to discourage, or succeed in discouraging you from doing wholesome actions. Then they make demerit, and you lose merit, or make demerit if you adopt their negative view, e.g. that giving charity, observing morality, or practising meditation is just a wasted effort.


What you write is sensible Bhante. Yet it seems that practicing virtue quietly would make it virtually impossible to encourage same. One has to either be known as a merit-making person or tell people that one is so, by encouraging them to do as I do.

Ledi Sayadaw wrote that basically indifference to the kammic results is the highest form of virtue. One is genuinely selfless and so does not even think of how, where or who one's kammas affect. But that is pretty far away from most of us worldlings. So what is wrong with aspiring to that state by thinking to oneself "May all merit from such & such acts be dedicated to all beings"? That transference will not happen, but at least it helps us get in the less self centered and eventually selfless state of mind.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:16 am

I dont know if something objective passes from the dedicator to the dedicatee. I do think that the dedication has a very positive effect in turning the mind of the dedicator to the welfare of others and to Buddhadhamma.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby nyanasuci » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:51 am

What about that chant 'Sharing Blessings' which is chanted in Thai monasteries?
See http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documen ... k_2006.pdf
p. 32/33
Quite inauthentic.
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Re: Is sharing Merit a Buddhist teaching?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:29 am

nyanasuci wrote:What about that chant 'Sharing Blessings' which is chanted in Thai monasteries?
See http://www.amaravati.org/abmnew/documen ... k_2006.pdf
p. 32/33
Quite inauthentic.

how do you mean inauthentic?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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