Making Merit - or is it craving?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Hanzze
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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:30 am

kirk5a wrote:
Hanzze wrote: Can you bring a sample.
Have an excellent day Hanzze.
Thanks! That is what Dana is about. Letting go of possession while maintaing a wholesome mind state (before, while doing and after)
David N. Snyder wrote:
Ben wrote: Yes, intention is key. However, its my contention that even if one is mainly motivated by greed for future rewards, then the act of giving itself must contain some moments of genuine selfless generosity for that individual to give at all.
I agree. The end does not always justify the means, however, some giving, any giving, even with some expectation, is better than being a selfish miser who never gives his time, money, or labor to anyone or any cause. The giver may not be an arahant and who are we to judge and speculate on kammic outcomes.
There are very less samples of selfishness giving.
Another example could be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sure they are billionaires, sure their name is written all over the foundation, but look how much good they have done; from building homes, providing jobs, scholarships, to vaccinations in the Third World; they have probably saved millions of lives. Perhaps it was to have their name known as philanthropists, perhaps for the Foundation, their legacy, for winning the Time magazine persons of the year. In the end, did it not help so many people? And of course they could have done like many billionaires and buy another yacht, Rolls Royce, etc.
The poppularity of such action is exactly what makes Dana (as merit and not as a require to turn on) not easy be understood by many.

I guess it is needed to divide maybe into maybe three kinds of Dana (giving), one that is aspirated by the motivation of gain (todays way of life), one that is aspirated by the motivation of keeping things equal and alive (the function which might be well explaint in the essey posted by Ben), and on that is aspireted by the motivation of simply letting go of ones possession.

Those samples hit exactly what is told by Bhikkhu Ashin Janakabhivamsa and are in fact a terrible force of distruction of any lasting functioning social system and increasing of thoughts of individualism and an endangering of all traditionall autorities and those action are comming back.

Receiving is also another good practice. As lay people there are plenty of times we receive gifts from others. Does jealousy arise, do we question the value of the gifts, the motive of the giver? If so, then we are not acting in a wholesome way as the receiver either. Such mind states would be the far enemy of mudita (and probably the far enemies of metta, karuna, and upekkha too).
Very good point! Somebody who is not able to receive, not used to receive will hardly be able to give. He just accepts what is good form him in the present moment and he just gives what he means that is good and in a manner of controll or rander the outside like he likes to have it.
Once I was eating with some family and friends at a restaurant and the person who invited all of us went to receive the bill. I knew that he was not of good financial means so offered to pay the bill. This is somewhat a common practice among some people as some will fight for the bill to pay it (perhaps out of generosity or perhaps out of ego). The person who invited us told me that this was his invitation and he insisted he will pay. I realized what a stupid mistake I made and apologized and of course let him pay. As receivers we can make mistakes too, just as the giver may not always have the best motives too.
Great sample, thanks for sharing.

When ever you see a rich man, give him what ever you have. He needs it more then you, but be careful he could be angry about it. So do not make him feel that he is poor.
Ben wrote:I recently completed reading a very interesting work which discussed at length the role of merit making in Burmese society and how it binds the laity, sangha and state together and how it legitimizes the state. It makes for some very interesting reading.
http://www.amazon.com/Burmas-Mass-Lay-M ... 0896802558" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I recommend this short and great essay The lessons of gratidute in addition, to understand on one hand the ways of giving and taking to provide a well sociaty and a good live as well as to understand the way out of giving and taking and to understand Dana (letting go) from a very dharmic view.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Ben
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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Ben » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:34 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:In his Manual of Profound Meaning (Gambhīra Dīpanī) he admonished a rather materialistic Buddhist minister.
Thanks Bhante, I wasn't aware of that publication.
Oh, yes I have, but under its other title “Four Stanzas on Saṃvega.”
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Hanzze
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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:42 am

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta's Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika's monastery. Then Anāthapiṇḍika the householder went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, bowed down to him and sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, "Householder, are gifts still given in your family?"

"Gifts are still given in my family, lord, but they are coarse: broken rice cooked with bran, accompanied by pickle brine."

...About Velāma
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by DNS » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:02 am

Hanzze wrote: When ever you see a rich man, give him what ever you have. He needs it more then you, but be careful he could be angry about it. So do not make him feel that he is poor.
:jumping:

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by ground » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:11 am

No doer, no doing, nothing/nobody acted upon ... the greatest merit of all :sage:

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Hanzze
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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:26 am

Or the greatest forlornness... One needs to stay very honest to be not in the spheare of ignorance of ignorance and a good meassure is to look if one has more that really needed (four daily new requires) to but honesty into a test.

Some no doer, still fill and open the refrigorator not to speak to maintain it running.

:geek:
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by ground » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:34 am

Hanzze wrote:Or the greatest forlornness...
Losing fear is great merit :sage:

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:37 am

Or (and mostly) a screaming of seeking refuge in moha. Put it into a test, there is no other way to be sure.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by ground » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:39 am

Hanzze wrote:Or (and mostly) a screaming of seeking refuge in moha.
Not seeking any refuge at all is the greatest merit. Neither fear, nor hope. :sage:

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:43 am

Yes, as I told. Prouf it when the next electric bill comes.

Refuge in what one is not aware is merly an index of great illusion.
Neither fear, nor hope.
Great saying, who taught you that. :console:
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by ground » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:00 am

Hanzze wrote:Yes, as I told. Prouf it when the next electric bill comes.
Fearing the conditions of life entails investing hope into seeking refuge in ideas.
Hanzze wrote: Refuge in what one is not aware is merly an index of great illusion.
Conscious refuge is consciousness' home. Consciousness fears homelessness. Consciousness arises from formations in the sphere of ignorance (DO).
Hanzze wrote:
Neither fear, nor hope.
Great saying, who taught you that. :console:
It is not about sayings. It is about freeedom from hope and fear which is the greatest merit.

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Hanzze » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:14 am

'Consciousness' homelessness does not appear without 'physical' homelessness as well as 'physical' homelessness does not mean that 'Consciousness' homelessness is already reached.

How ever, if somebody is in 'physical' homelessness his preachings could provide people to gain right understanding while if somebody who is not in carge with 'physical' homelessness is preaching and claiming that there is a possible 'Consciousness' homelessness without 'physical' homelessness its speaks for it self.

And again for one self, give it a prove. Dana is a great way to do so. It might if all other factors are allready developed, seem like spontanious bodhi if done in the right way.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by DAWN » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:42 am

kirk5a wrote: Well I don't see where this level of "absolute metta" fits in to the graduated training.
Where fits 0 relatively 1-9 ?
kirk5a wrote:It sounds like it could (hypothetically) be referring to a level of attainment, rather than something that can actually be practiced.
Attainment brings a natural practice of the one, when he is naturaly practicising.
When he practice naturaly, he reach the "brahmanhood",the atteinment.
kirk5a wrote:The Buddha's instructions are to develop skillful dhammas and abandon unskillful ones, not just "let them be, without correction."
It's true, but is relative practice, is conditioned metta, not absolute practice, not absolute metta.
Why i call it relative practice? Because Good and Bad arise from duality, when there is equanimity, there is no duality, there is no conditions to concider one dhamma as good and one another as bad, they are juste whats they are. We cant kill a virus by sayng that "virus is evil, and brings suffering, so it must die", no, and why not? Because it is his nature. It the same for all dhammas, internal or external.

When our mind see the equnanimity of all dhammas, is like a not wounded hand that handle a poison.
The Bouddha said :

Dhammapada Verse 124
Kukkutamittanesada Vatthu


Panimhi ce vano nassa
hareyya panina visam
nibbanam visamanveti
natthi papam akubbato.

Verse 124: If there is no wound on the hand, one may handle poison; poison does not affect one who has no wound; there can be no evil for one who has no evil intention.

http://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/ve ... ?verse=124" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Also in Dhp, The Bouddha said :

Chapter XXVI. The Holy Man (Braahma.na vagga)
Dhammapada Verse (412)


412. Yodha pu~n~na~nca paapa~nca,
ubho sa"ngamupaccagaa.
Asoka.m viraja.m suddha.m,
tamaha.m bruumi braahma.na.m.

------------

Alternate English Translations:

412. Him I call a brahmana who, in this world, has transcended both ties good
and evil; who is sorrowless and, being free from the taints of moral
defilements, is pure.
(translated by Daw Mya Tin)

412. He who has passed beyond
Good and bad and attachment,
Who is sorrowless, stainless and pure,
Him do I call a brahmana.
(Thai version)

412. He who in this world has transcended the ties of both merit and demerit,
who is sorrowless, stainless and pure; him do I call a holy man.
(translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita)

412. He has gone beyond attachment here for both merit and evil; sorrowless,
dustless, and pure: he's what I call a brahman.
(translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

412. Herein he who has transcended both good and bad and the ties as well, who
is sorrowless, stainless, and pure; him I call a braahma.na.
(translated by Naarada Mahaa Thera)

-------------

Background Story

The Story of Samanera Revata

While residing at the Pubbarama monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (412), with
reference to Samanera Revata.

One day, the bhikkhus said to the Buddha, "Revata is getting many offerings from
people, he is gaining fame and fortune. Even though he lives alone in the
forest, through supernormal power he has now built five hundred pinnacled
monasteries for five hundred bhikkhus." To them the Buddha said, "Bhikkhus, my
son Revata has discarded all craving; he has transcended both good and evil."

Verse 412: Him I call a brahmana, who, in this world, has transcended both ties
good and evil; who is sorrowless and, being free from the taints of moral
defilements, is pure.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Triplegem/message/11869" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
kirk5a wrote: Are you suggesting a mass murderer like that fellow had any comprehension whatsoever of anicca, dukkha, anatta? Certainly not.
I dont know what he knew, anyway he said that he practiced meditation, and meditation make him let go all emotions and pitty about a life beings. It's a "dark side" when there is no developped metta. When you anderstand that is all just illution, you can enwelop your mind by wisdom and do what you want without any kamma for you. Why without any kamma for you? Because your mind is clear, calm, not afected, there is no contact between mind and action of body, and when there is no contact there is no consiousness, no agging-and-death etc... Lotus mind, mind that cant be wet.

Some one who practice without metta is potential denger. It's a one of reasons why sometimes MahaMoggalana, and others, sometimes said that he will not teach bhikkhus, beacause they are not ready for this teaching.
If that i said is heretical, please delete this post; or his last part. Thanks.

Metta :meditate:
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by ground » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:09 am

Hanzze wrote:'Consciousness' homelessness does not appear without 'physical' homelessness as well as 'physical' homelessness does not mean that 'Consciousness' homelessness is already reached.

How ever, if somebody is in 'physical' homelessness his preachings could provide people to gain right understanding while if somebody who is not in carge with 'physical' homelessness is preaching and claiming that there is a possible 'Consciousness' homelessness without 'physical' homelessness its speaks for it self.

And again for one self, give it a prove. Dana is a great way to do so. It might if all other factors are allready developed, seem like spontanious bodhi if done in the right way.
Whoever thinks to know does not know. Only freedom can tell but freedom does not come about through thinking "it is like this" or "it is like that".
Religious thought based on hope may provide comfort for the fearful. There is nothing wrong about that. So striving for merit may provide ephemeral feelings of joy and happiness thus making this short period between birth and death a bit more bearable. :sage:

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Re: Making Merit - or is it craving?

Post by Sylvester » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:12 am

cooran wrote:Hello all,

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this short opinion piece:

‘’Upon arriving in southern China in 527 CE, Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch, visited Emperor Wu of Liang at his capital in Nanjing. This monarch was proud of his many great acts of charity: building temples, copying sutras, feeding monks. When he asked Bodhidharma how much merit all this had earned him, he was crestfallen when the monk bluntly told him, "None at all."

Bodhidharma was trying to make a point (you can probably find it by googling him), but there's another point that people ought to think about. I understand that many Thai Buddhists perform acts of charity - donating money to temples, etc - with the intention of earning merit. Such merit-making sounds praiseworthy, but is not entirely altruistic: they expect that the merit thus earned will guarantee them good fortune in this or some future life.

I understand that the Buddha taught that karma is produced, not by specific actions, but by the underlying motivation for those actions. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) He also taught that craving is the cause of suffering. Is it not reasonable to assume that if you perform good works with the motive of gaining good fortune in the future, that craving will undermine and nullify the effects of those good works?

Merit-making with no desire for reward is admirable; but the craving for reward poisons it. As the late Buddhadasa Bhikkhu remarked, "That's not religion; that's just a business deal."’

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion ... 89582.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
Hi Chris

Craving is indeed the cause of Suffering, the coming-together again of the 5 Aggregates. But I think the chap who wrote the above may not fully appreciate the position in the Pali Canon.

Firstly, let's deal with -
...the Buddha taught that karma is produced, not by specific actions, but by the underlying motivation for those actions.
This does not seem to be the position contemplated in Dana Sutta, AN 7.49 - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

While intention is important, the manifestation of that intention into action is also a necessary condition for the fruition of kamma. Kamma is after all action, not just merely the intention per se; see AN 6.63 which says -
Cetanāhaṃ bhikkhave kammaṃ vadāmi, cetayitvā kammaṃ karoti kāyena vācāya manasā

Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Having intended, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & mind.
You can see that all of the dana in AN 7.49 are tainted, in one way or another, with craving. All those dana tainted by craving actually produce the good results that are expected.

The clearest exposition for this reality that craving is not incompatible with good rebirth is in the Mahacattarisaka Sutta, MN 117. There, 5 factors of the Noble Eightfold Path are analysed into 2 types, ie whether it is -

1. with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in the acquisitions [of becoming]; or
2. noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

The "effluents" are nothing less than the āsavā whose function is to cause rebirth -
In whomever the fermentations (effluents) that defile, that lead to renewed becoming, that give trouble, that ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death are not abandoned: Him I call deluded.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... .than.html

Yassa kassaci aggivessana ye āsavā saṅkilesikā ponobhavikā sadarā dukkhavipākā āyatiṃ jātijarāmaraṇīyā appahīnā, tamahaṃ sammūḷhoti vadāmi.
It is clear from this definition of the āsavā that they are synonymous with Craving.

If there were absolutely no Craving, then the 3rd Noble Truth says that there will be no Suffering. If one does not crave, one will not be reborn! Craving does not nullify the kamma. Craving causes the kamma to ripen!

Which brings me to this weird statement -
Merit-making with no desire for reward is admirable
Even in AN 7.49, in the final case of the dana that leads to Non-Return, there is the subtlest form of craving hiding behind the motive -
cittālaṃkāraṃ cittaparikkhāran'ti
"This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind."
If there were absolutely no craving whatsoever, there would not even be rebirth as a Non-Returner; full Awakening would instead be achieved.

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