Economies of Merit

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Merit:

can be transferred to another
4
19%
cannot be transferred to another
17
81%
 
Total votes: 21

daverupa
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Economies of Merit

Post by daverupa » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:02 pm

I'd like to have people expand on their response by either describing how donation of merit has a place in their practice, else why it does not.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:21 pm

Dedication of merit has a role in my practice but more in the sense of inviting others (such as devas and petas) to rejoice in the merit and thereby make their good kamma in situations where it would otherwise be impossible. Also, dedicating merit is a way to open my own heart and cultivate the brahma-viharas.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Mawkish1983
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Mawkish1983 » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:31 pm

I agree that sharing merit is a useful practice to help generate compassion and loving kindness. Whether there is anything substantial that can actually be transferred or not, I can't say for sure. I doubt it though.

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imagemarie
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by imagemarie » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:56 pm

One woman's "skillful means" is another woman's :shrug: I have nominally practiced this with others, but I don't really get it :smile:

:anjali:

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Aloka
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Aloka » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:10 pm

I used to do this practice daily when I practised Tibetan Buddhism. Now not so much.

I don't actually believe that we can somehow miraculously transfer merit to others. In my opinion, dedicating/transfering merit to others is a skillful way to minimise any selfishness/self importance we may have, through a sincere mental act of giving.

:anjali:

dhammarelax
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by dhammarelax » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:17 pm

The strictest canonical interpretation that I heard about this (Bhante Dhammavuddho) is that it can be shared only with the beings that are dwelling in the hungry ghosts realm, however I am not sure about this, my teacher Bhante Vimalaramsi shares merit at the end of every Dhamma Talk so it must be useful.

If merit can be shared then demerit can be shared as well?

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dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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Sam Vara
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:18 pm

I find myself in agreement with Mawkish 1983 and Aloka. If there is a substance which is somehow transferred, then I can't make much sense of it. This despite chanting the "Sharing of Blessings" most weeks.

It would be good to know whether the idea has much of a basis in the suttas.

Anyone...?

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vacvvm
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by vacvvm » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:49 pm

its said in the scriptures (I'll dig it up if requested) that metta bhavana provides protection from all kinds of harmful creatures, yet most of us practice metta bhavana and still get bit by dogs or stung by bees. I think this kind of thing reaches a radically different form, operating on subtle or psychic levels, when the practitioner is an arahant or near to becoming one, and I suspect that if transferring merit is possible, it may only be possible by one with great attainments in concentration and metta, for the rest of us its just a good practice for dispersing conceit

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:52 pm

Vacvvm,

I believe you're looking for this sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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vacvvm
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by vacvvm » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:00 pm

yep thats it :)
I was also thinking of a passage where a monk was killed by a snake bite and the Buddha said that if he had properly developed metta toward snakes it would not have happened, so he taught the other monks protection meditations

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Goofaholix
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:03 pm

If you do something good with the intention of gaining merit then I think the intention is no longer to do something good the intention is to gain something for yourself.

Trying to do merit for merit's sake is therefore self defeating, better to do good for good's sake.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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vacvvm
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by vacvvm » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:09 pm

Goofaholix- check this out, a full accounting of dana intentions in order of weakest to best http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

as for the question of transferability, I think we shouldn't assume our experience of a practice or its fruits to be similar to those of an arahant

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DNS
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by DNS » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:03 pm

I have also heard that merit can be transferred to the hungry ghost realm, only. However, it can be a good practice, the intention is good and it can reduce selfishness.

Not directly related to merit transfer, but here is a Sutta that generally shows that we are each owners of our own kamma:
Suppose, headman, a person would hurl a huge boulder into a deep pool of water. Then a
great crowd of people would come together and assemble around it, and they would send up
prayers and recite praise and circumambulate it making reverential salutations, saying:
Emerge, good boulder! Rise up, good boulder! Come up on to high ground, good boulder!
What do you think, headman? Because of the prayers of the great crowd of people, because of
their praise, because they circumambulate it making reverential salutations, would that boulder
emerge, rise up, and come to the high ground? No, venerable sir. So, too, headman, if a person
is one who destroys life, does not keep the precepts, and holds wrong understanding, even
though a great crowd of people would come together and assemble around him . . . still, with the
breakup of the body, after death, that person will be reborn in a state of misery, in a bad
destination, in the nether world, in hell.

Suppose, headman, a man submerges a pot of ghee or a or a pot of oil in a deep pool of water and
breaks it. Any of its shards or fragments there would sink downwards, but the ghee or oil would
rise upwards. Then a great crowd of people would come together and assemble around it, and
they would send up prayers and recite praise and circumambulate it making reverential
salutations, saying: Sink down, good ghee or oil! Settle good ghee or oil! Go downwards, good
ghee or oil! What do you think, headman? Because of the prayers of the great crowd of people,
because of their praise, because they circumambulate it making reverential salutations, would
that ghee or oil sink down or settle or go downwards? No, Venerable sir. So, too, headman, if a
person is one who abstains from the destruction of life and keeps the other precepts too, who
holds right understanding, even though a great crowd of people would come together and
assemble around him . . . still, with the breakup of the body, after death, that person will be
reborn in a good destination, in a heavenly world.
Samyutta Nikaya 42.6

SarathW
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by SarathW » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:19 pm

I think merit transferring is good to relax the attachment and aversion.
Some people I know, do not want to give anything, even if the throw that in a garbage bin.
For instance, some do not like to see a begging person wearing their cloths.
Some people may want get all the merits without giving to anyone else.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Dhammanando
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Re: Economies of Merit

Post by Dhammanando » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:31 pm

Sam Vara wrote:I find myself in agreement with Mawkish 1983 and Aloka. If there is a substance which is somehow transferred, then I can't make much sense of it. This despite chanting the "Sharing of Blessings" most weeks.

It would be good to know whether the idea has much of a basis in the suttas.

Anyone...?
The transfer of substance idea — wherein one mentally resolves to give away a portion of one's merit to petas, so that it is the petas rather than oneself who enjoy its vipāka — is from the Milindapañha, not the Suttas. Like merit-transference in the Mahayana, it appears to deviate from the classical Buddhist "ownership of kamma" (kammasakatā) doctrine.

On the other hand, the idea of performing some deed of merit and then inviting "petas" (it's uncertain here whether the term means hungry ghosts, one's departed relatives, or hungry ghosts who happen to be one's departed relatives) to come and rejoice in it and thereby gain merit and relief from their sufferings, is from the Tirokuḍḍa Sutta. Here there is no deviation from classical kamma doctrine, for nothing of one's own kamma is given away; rather, one simply provides the petas with an opportunity to do something meritorious themselves.

https://suttacentral.net/en/kp7

By the time of Buddhaghosa the Milindapañha's "transfer of substance" idea seems to have been quietly shelved in all the Theravadin scholastic literature, while the Tirokuḍḍa Sutta's view is upheld as the orthodox one. In Asian folk Buddhist practice, on the other hand, merit transference generally entails a melding of the more optimistic features of each of the two conceptions, effectively allowing people to have the best of both worlds.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

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