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Merit

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 6:02 pm
by Ngawang Drolma.
Can anyone point me to any suttas in which the Buddha teaches about merit?

Thanks! :anjali:

Re: Merit

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 6:55 pm
by kc2dpt

Re: Merit

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:13 pm
by Ngawang Drolma.
Peter wrote:puñña
:thanks:

Re: Merit

Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 1:45 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings Drolma,

Generally speaking, merit is also synonymous with kamma.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Merit

Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 2:11 am
by mikenz66
retrofuturist wrote: Generally speaking, merit is also synonymous with kamma.
good kamma ...

Mike

Re: Merit

Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 8:46 am
by retrofuturist
Good point

:tongue:

Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Merit

Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 10:48 am
by Thanavuddho
happiness is merit

Re: Merit

Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 10:20 pm
by mikenz66
Greetings Santeri,
Santeri wrote:happiness is merit
I don't understand your statement. Would you care to explain it in the context of some Buddhist source?

Metta
Mike

Re: Merit

Posted: Thu May 21, 2009 11:08 pm
by BlackBird
It seems a lot of time is spent, at least in predominantly 'Buddhist' countries, trying to generate merit, as if merit is some sort of spiritual currency. Next thing you know we will have these Buddhist Merit gurus giving advice to the public at large...

For only 3 easy payments of $29.99 YOU can learn the secrets of spiritual success!
- Learn how to fast track your way to heaven!
- Learn the alms giving principle of success: HOW MUCH? TOO MUCH!
- Learn which Monks will give you the most merit, learn to play the system to your spiritual advantage!


Anyway, AN. 7.49 - The Dana Sutta, makes for good reading.

Metta
Jack

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 1:28 am
by Dhammanando
Hi Jack,
BlackBird wrote:It seems a lot of time is spent, at least in predominantly 'Buddhist' countries, trying to generate merit, as if merit is some sort of spiritual currency.
Merit is a spiritual currency.

For example, for progress in Dhamma to be possible one needs to encounter a faithworthy object — the Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha, or something representing these. Each such encounter will consist in the arising of a sense-door process comprising wholesome resultant consciousnesses (kusala vipaka-cittas — eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness etc.) that have one of the three jewels as their object. These cittas don't arise from nothing, but rather, are paid for by past merit. ("There's no such thing as a free vipāka-citta," as Milton Friedman might say).

Where the currency of merit differs from ordinary currency is that one can't get it by being greedy for it. An act of giving, for example, is puñña only to the extent that it is motivated by a non-greed-rooted consciousness.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 5:52 am
by Individual
Dhammanando wrote:Hi Jack,
BlackBird wrote:It seems a lot of time is spent, at least in predominantly 'Buddhist' countries, trying to generate merit, as if merit is some sort of spiritual currency.
Merit is a spiritual currency.

For example, for progress in Dhamma to be possible one needs to encounter a faithworthy object — the Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha, or something representing these. Each such encounter will consist in the arising of a sense-door process comprising wholesome resultant consciousnesses (kusala vipaka-cittas — eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness etc.) that have one of the three jewels as their object. These cittas don't arise from nothing, but rather, are paid for by past merit. ("There's no such thing as a free vipāka-citta," as Milton Friedman might say).

Where the currency of merit differs from ordinary currency is that one can't get it by being greedy for it. An act of giving, for example, is puñña only to the extent that it is motivated by a non-greed-rooted consciousness.
A skeptic might ask, "So, where is this merit collected?"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but puñña is also distinguished from ordinary currency in that it is not a limited commodity. How, though, can something real thus impermanent be limitlessly produced? If puñña could be limitlessly produced and puñña brings happiness, how could one even say that life is dukkha?

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 2:02 pm
by genkaku
mikenz66 wrote:
retrofuturist wrote: Generally speaking, merit is also synonymous with kamma.
good kamma ...

Mike
Ummmmm ... you're sure about that, are you?

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 2:35 pm
by mikenz66
genkaku wrote: Ummmmm ... you're sure about that, are you?
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... %B1%C3%B1a" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Puñña: merit, meritorious, is a popular term for kammically advantageous kusala action. Opposite terms: apuñña= demerit. pāpa= 'bad', 'evil'. The value of meritorious action is often stressed, e.g., in the Treasure Store Sutta see: Khp. Tr., Dhp 18, 118, 122. - The Community of Noble Bhikkhus ariya-sangha the third Refuge see: ti-sarana is said to be;the incomparable field of merit in the world; anuttaram, puññakkhettam see: anussati 3. The Arahats, however, having transcended all life-affirming and rebirth-producing actions, are said to be;beyond merit and demerit;; see Sn. 520, 547, 636, 790. - See foll. 3 articles.

Puññābhisankhāra: 'meritorious kammic-constructions' of the sense-and fine-material sphere; see: sankhāra I. 1.

Puññā-dhārā: 'streams of merit'. It is said that one produces 4 streams of merit by offering the 4 requisites robes, foodfood, dwelling, medicine to a Bhikkhu who has reached the conditionless deliverance of mind; further by being filled with unshakable faith in the Buddha, his doctrine and community of disciples, and by being perfect in morality A. IV, 51, 52. A. VIII, 39 describes 4 further streams of merit.

Puñña-kiriya-vatthu: 'bases of meritorious action'. In the suttas, 3 are mentioned consisting of giving generosity; dāna-maya-p of morality sīla-maya-p and of mental development meditation; bhāvanā-maya-p. See D. 33; It. 60; expl. in A. VIII, 36.

Commentaries have a list of ten dasa p which is very popular in Buddhist countries: 1-3 as above, 4 reverence apaciti5 service veyyāvacca 6 transference of merit pattānuppadāna 7 rejoicing in others' merit abbhānumodana 8 expounding the Doctrine desanā 9 listening to the Doctrine savana 10 straightening one's right views rectification of views; ditthujukamma - Expl. in Atthasālini Tr. 209ff.

See 'The Advantages of Merit', by Bhikkhu Khantipalo BODHI LEAVES B. 38.
Mike

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 3:27 pm
by genkaku
Thanks Mike.

And your experience dovetails with this?

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 3:34 pm
by MMK23
Individual wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but puñña is also distinguished from ordinary currency in that it is not a limited commodity. How, though, can something real thus impermanent be limitlessly produced? If puñña could be limitlessly produced and puñña brings happiness, how could one even say that life is dukkha?


Great
question, Individual :-) And the metaphysics of that inquiry, applied to many different aspects of the buddhadhamma, give us really awesome things to think about. Let me know if come up with an answer for your question :-)

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 4:58 pm
by Individual
MMK23 wrote:
Individual wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but puñña is also distinguished from ordinary currency in that it is not a limited commodity. How, though, can something real thus impermanent be limitlessly produced? If puñña could be limitlessly produced and puñña brings happiness, how could one even say that life is dukkha?


Great
question, Individual :-) And the metaphysics of that inquiry, applied to many different aspects of the buddhadhamma, give us really awesome things to think about. Let me know if come up with an answer for your question :-)
A great question is not worth dodging, but then, are you being sarcastic? Really awesome things to think about?

Making bold claims of reality, one must justify them for them to be coherent or useful. In practice, metaphysics are inseparable from all other fields of knowledge -- ethics, ontology, etc. -- because for any claim to be meaningful or truthful, it must be grounded in reality. Opposition to the investigation for the grounds in reality of contentious claims is as much a problem as boundless metaphysical speculation.

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 9:10 pm
by mikenz66
genkaku wrote: And your experience dovetails with this?
My experience is that if you look up the meaning of "merit", that's what it is...

So, yes. :tongue:

Mike

Re: Merit

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 9:44 pm
by cooran
Hello Individual,
Individual said: puñña brings happiness
Maybe more precision in terms is needed? Where is Puñña equated with happiness - at least happiness of the worldly sort?
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana in discussing the Concept of Happiness, said:
"There are two types of happiness--one is experiential [vedayita)] and the other nonexperiential [avedayita]. The latter is considered to be the highest, for it does not change, and the former is placed in a lower degree of happiness, for it changes. The latter is attained after eradicating all the defilements in the mind and the former is attained without destroying them. As long as defilements including hindrances are not destroyed, whatever happiness attained is subject to change. All happiness derived from any feeling may turn into unhappiness. If happiness turns into unhappiness, then what we experience is suffering [dukkha]. True happiness is the happiness attained by eliminating dukkha. The cause of suffering should be eliminated totally, completely, never to return again, in order to eliminate suffering. With total annihilation of the cause of suffering, permanent happiness is possible."

Puñña
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... li.1341389" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris

Re: Merit

Posted: Sat May 23, 2009 12:08 am
by MMK23
Individual wrote:
MMK23 wrote:
Individual wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but puñña is also distinguished from ordinary currency in that it is not a limited commodity. How, though, can something real thus impermanent be limitlessly produced? If puñña could be limitlessly produced and puñña brings happiness, how could one even say that life is dukkha?


Great
question, Individual :-) And the metaphysics of that inquiry, applied to many different aspects of the buddhadhamma, give us really awesome things to think about. Let me know if come up with an answer for your question :-)
A great question is not worth dodging, but then, are you being sarcastic? Really awesome things to think about?

Making bold claims of reality, one must justify them for them to be coherent or useful. In practice, metaphysics are inseparable from all other fields of knowledge -- ethics, ontology, etc. -- because for any claim to be meaningful or truthful, it must be grounded in reality. Opposition to the investigation for the grounds in reality of contentious claims is as much a problem as boundless metaphysical speculation.
I was being serious! We mustn't rope off the dynamics of the cosmos (including in such 'boring' areas as the limitless fountain of puñña. Dynamics such as these must be, by their very nature, axiomatic to the whole Buddhadhamma project. We can't avoid the way the world and the cosmos work, and indeed the Buddhist project is all about squaring it up, looking it in the face, and not flinching. Sorry that I got sort of unnecessarily excited. I just think it's very important to wonder about how everything works. I don't think there's much point in closing off any line of enquiry.

Re: Merit

Posted: Sat May 23, 2009 12:20 am
by Individual
Chris wrote:Hello Individual,
Individual said: puñña brings happiness
Maybe more precision in terms is needed? Where is Puñña equated with happiness - at least happiness of the worldly sort?
The Ittha Sutta suggests that long life, beauty, happiness, and status, are all the result of merit. And the Dhammapada says this too.

Dhammapada 1:16
Here he rejoices, hereafter he rejoices. In both states the welldoer rejoices. He rejoices, exceedingly rejoices, perceiving the purity of his own deeds.
Things like long life, beauty, and status, and what's mentioned in the above Dhammapada quote, isn't simply spiritual forms of joy; they're worldly as well.

To demonstrate this point, a deva re-iterates this point in SN 1.3
Life but leads to doom. Our time is short.
From Decay there's naught can keep us safe.
Contemplating thus the fear of death,
Let's make merit that will bring us bliss.
The Buddha contradicts this, though:
Life but leads to doom. Our time is short.
From Decay there's naught can keep us safe.
Contemplating thus this fear of death,
Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace.
The Buddha does not deny that merit leads to bliss, but calls this happiness "worldly bait", so the happiness is worldly. But it is not as noble as Nirvana, because it chains the being to Samsara.

On that same page, there is some useful commentary for this discussion:
The Buddha here makes a vital distinction which is valid to this day as marking the difference between the aims of "popular Buddhism" and the serious treading of the Path. "Merit" (puñña) can lead to a happier rebirth, perhaps in one of the deva-worlds, but this too will come to an end. The proper course is to tread the Noble Eightfold Path and gain the "final peace" of Nibbaana. Note, however, the remarks of the Ven. Khantipalo in The Buddhist Monk's Discipline (WH 130/131, p.7): "Puñña is the benefit of increasing purity of mind derived from skillful actions such as generosity, virtue, helpfulness, etc. 'Merit' is an inadequate rendering."
And also, if we identify merit (punna) with kamma, as others have done above, the Buddha said in MN 135
Kamma is what creates distinctions among beings in terms of coarseness & refinement.
Not simply spiritual coarseness or refinement... People are born poor or rich, beautiful or ugly, because of kamma, because of merit.
Chris wrote:Bhante Henepola Gunaratana in discussing the Concept of Happiness, said:
"There are two types of happiness--one is experiential [vedayita)] and the other nonexperiential [avedayita]. The latter is considered to be the highest, for it does not change, and the former is placed in a lower degree of happiness, for it changes. The latter is attained after eradicating all the defilements in the mind and the former is attained without destroying them. As long as defilements including hindrances are not destroyed, whatever happiness attained is subject to change. All happiness derived from any feeling may turn into unhappiness. If happiness turns into unhappiness, then what we experience is suffering [dukkha]. True happiness is the happiness attained by eliminating dukkha. The cause of suffering should be eliminated totally, completely, never to return again, in order to eliminate suffering. With total annihilation of the cause of suffering, permanent happiness is possible."
How does Bhante Henepola Gunaratana claim to know of something which he hasn't experienced, or has he experienced the nonexperiential?
MMK23 wrote: I was being serious! We mustn't rope off the dynamics of the cosmos (including in such 'boring' areas as the limitless fountain of puñña. Dynamics such as these must be, by their very nature, axiomatic to the whole Buddhadhamma project. We can't avoid the way the world and the cosmos work, and indeed the Buddhist project is all about squaring it up, looking it in the face, and not flinching. Sorry that I got sort of unnecessarily excited. I just think it's very important to wonder about how everything works. I don't think there's much point in closing off any line of enquiry.
Well, we agree!