Merit

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Individual
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Re: Merit

Post by Individual » Fri May 22, 2009 4:58 pm

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.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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mikenz66
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Re: Merit

Post by mikenz66 » Fri May 22, 2009 9:10 pm

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

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cooran
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Re: Merit

Post by cooran » Fri May 22, 2009 9:44 pm

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
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

MMK23
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Re: Merit

Post by MMK23 » Sat May 23, 2009 12:08 am

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.

Individual
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Re: Merit

Post by Individual » Sat May 23, 2009 12:20 am

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!
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Dhammanando
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Re: Merit

Post by Dhammanando » Sat May 23, 2009 1:39 am

Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:A skeptic might ask, "So, where is this merit collected?"
If it's a materialist conception of kamma (like that of the Jains) that the skeptic is interrogating, then she's justified in asking such a question. But if it's the Buddhist conception then she's simply making a category mistake.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but puñña is also distinguished from ordinary currency in that it is not a limited commodity.
Not necessarily. Only a finite amount of merit can be accumulated in a single lifetime. Of course when multiple lives are taken into account then merit-currency does become potentially unlimited, but then so does ordinary currency when other factors are introduced (e.g. when a nation is subjected to the fiscal profligacy of a Robert Mugabe or a 1970's Labour government).

In any case, let's not push the simile too far.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/very-like-a-whale/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
How, though, can something real thus impermanent be limitlessly produced?
How couldn't it? If the round of saṃsāra is without discernible beginning then there's no limit to the number of puñña-generating wholesome cittas that might have arisen in any given continuum, nor to the number that might arise in the future.
If puñña could be limitlessly produced and puñña brings happiness, how could one even say that life is dukkha?
1. In addition to the mental factors that generate puñña, there are those that generate its opposite, pāpa, which ripens in pain.
2. Puñña can't be generated just because one wants it to be, or wants the fruits that it brings, for the conditions responsible for it are anattā, hence out of one's control.
3. Even if there were only puñña, and no pāpa, there would still be dukkha, for puñña ripens as pleasurable feeling, but even pleasurable feeling is included in the dukkha of formations.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Individual
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Merit

Post by Individual » Sat May 23, 2009 2:00 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Individual,
Individual wrote:A skeptic might ask, "So, where is this merit collected?"
If it's a materialist conception of kamma (like that of the Jains) that the skeptic is interrogating, then she's justified in asking such a question. But if it's the Buddhist conception then she's simply making a category mistake.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but puñña is also distinguished from ordinary currency in that it is not a limited commodity.
Not necessarily. Only a finite amount of merit can be accumulated in a single lifetime. Of course when multiple lives are taken into account then merit-currency does become potentially unlimited, but then so does ordinary currency when other factors are introduced (e.g. when a nation is subjected to the fiscal profligacy of a Robert Mugabe or a 1970's Labour government).

In any case, let's not push the simile too far.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/very-like-a-whale/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
How, though, can something real thus impermanent be limitlessly produced?
How couldn't it? If the round of saṃsāra is without discernible beginning then there's no limit to the number of puñña-generating wholesome cittas that might have arisen in any given continuum, nor to the number that might arise in the future.
If puñña could be limitlessly produced and puñña brings happiness, how could one even say that life is dukkha?
1. In addition to the mental factors that generate puñña, there are those that generate its opposite, pāpa, which ripens in pain.
2. Puñña can't be generated just because one wants it to be, or wants the fruits that it brings, for the conditions responsible for it are anattā, hence out of one's control.
3. Even if there were only puñña, and no pāpa, there would still be dukkha, for puñña ripens as pleasurable feeling, but even pleasurable feeling is included in the dukkha of formations.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
Very good response! Thanks.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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cooran
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Re: Merit

Post by cooran » Sat May 23, 2009 9:31 am

Hello all,

I found this to be an interesting dhamma talk:

Spectrum of Merits ~ Bhikkhu Aggacitta
http://sasanarakkha.org/print.php?conte ... erits.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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retrofuturist
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Re: Merit

Post by retrofuturist » Mon May 25, 2009 8:55 am

Greetings,

And if having decided that creating merit is something worthwhile (yes, it is!) then you can also see...

The Bases For Making Merit
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/making_merit.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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retrofuturist
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Re: Merit

Post by retrofuturist » Tue May 26, 2009 1:33 am

Greetings,

Also....

Merit
http://www.roundfree.org/roundfree_merit.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

A summary from a Dhamma talk about merit given by Achan Chaiyawat Kapilakan at the Buddhist Study Foundation, Wat Burana-Siriwatayaram, Bangkok, Thailand.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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for49
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Re: Merit

Post by for49 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:23 am

good skills and perfection

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