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Merit Giving

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  • Graham
    Dear bhikkhus, I would like to ask about merit giving. I have been discussing it with my wife and other groups for some days and we have come to no firm
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 15, 2008
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      Dear bhikkhus,
       
      I would like to ask about merit giving.
       
      I have been discussing it with my wife and other groups for some days and we have come to no firm conclusion, though I have received other helpful advice.
       
      My wife comes from a Thai Theravada tradition and there is the custom of merit giving.  For instance after doing meditation, attending a dharma talk or what ever, merit is accrued and can be dedicated.  I can then dedicate the merit to another.  The merit is the product of good karma.
       
      To me, my karma, good or bad, is a result of my own actions and will affect only me.  Can I give that to others?  Conversely, if I can give good karma to others, why can't I give bad karma?  Must it be accepted?
       
      I can understand that others can see, rejoice and gain benefit from another's good actions, but I don't really understand how the merit can be transferred.
       
      Could you help me at all please?
       
      Kind regards,
       
      Graham
    • Bhikkhu Pesala
      An important discourse regarding the sharing of merit is the Tirokudda Sutta: http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/tirokudda_s.htm
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 17, 2008
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        An important discourse regarding the sharing of merit is the
        Tirokudda Sutta:

        http://www.aimwell.org/DPPN/tirokudda_s.htm

        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/khp/
        khp.1-9.than.html#khp-7

        I think you're right, the departed relatives have to rejoice in your
        good deeds when you make merit and share it with them, but in
        most cases, when we offer a gift to someone they will accept it
        gladly, especially if they are in dire straits. The Petas are certainly
        in dire straits.

        A simile given is that of a candle light in a village. If only one
        household has a lit candle, other villagers can come to the house
        and light their own candle from it until every house in the village
        has a light. Thus merit increases when it is shared.

        Regarding the sharing of demerit there is a question in the Milinda
        Pañha: http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Pesala/Milinda/Vessantara/
        vessantara.html#23

        However, there is a way to share demerit. If we hold wrong views,
        and so speak wrong speech, and do wrong actions, we may
        encourage others of like mind to increase their own evil kamma and
        to adopt wrong views. Every Buddhist should make strenuous efforts
        to learn the Dhamma by studying the teachings carefully, and
        discussing the Dhamma, to make sure that they don't entertain
        wrong views. This is the wholesome deed called ditthujukamma -
        straightening of one's views.
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