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Can merits be transferred to the deceased?

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  • Moderator
    An Eternal Now's Avatar
    17,229 posts since Sep '04
    • Good article -  http://sasanarakkha.org/dhamma/2007/03/merits-can-they-be-transferred.html

      Merits - Can they be transferred?
      By Ven Aggacitta

      Venue: Fong Oi Peng's House

      It is the Chinese belief that the spirit of a departed person will hang around for 49 days before moving on to another realm of proper rebirth. The Theravada scriptures, however, do not explicitly mention such an intermediate stage. Even so, many of us must have heard about or even experienced situations where the spirits of the departed return to contact the living. In one of his talks, Ajahn Brahm, who was initially sceptical about such occurrences, eventually came to entertain the possibility that there could be an intermediate life because he could not deny the many cases of real-life experiences that he had heard from his devotees where the deceased returned to contact the living.

      Before beginning this talk, we chanted two suttas. The first is the Karaniya Metta Sutta – radiating metta to beings far and wide. In this sutta, the Buddha did not give instructions to the monks to radiate metta to oneself first followed by others, as is the norm during our usual metta meditation sessions. This sequence is actually found in the VisuddhiMagga which was written by Buddhaghosa during the 5th century AD, about 900 years after the Buddha’s parinibbana. The VisuddhiMagga was based on the tradition of the elders of the MahaVihara monastery, the centre of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka at that time.

      In the Karaniya Metta Sutta, the Buddha started by describing the qualities of the monk who wants to practice metta. The monk then wishes all beings peace and happiness first, followed by other specific beings, seen and unseen, near and far, beings in all the directions throughout the universe. The sutta concludes by saying that one who radiates metta in this way can eventually go beyond sensual pleasures to achieve liberation.
      The second sutta is the Tirokudda Sutta – Behind the Wall Discourse from the 5th Nikaya. In the first verse of this sutta the word peta is mentioned. Most Buddhists equate this word to a “hungry ghost” i.e. a ghost in a miserable state of existence. In this sutta however, peta refers to “the departed one” – not necessarily a hungry ghost only. The earlier Nikayas and Vinaya Pitaka define peta in this same way. The first verse starts off by saying that the living, having prepared a sumptuous meal, do not invite the departed to enter the dwelling to partake of the food. This is due to the departed ones' past unskillful kamma and therefore they have to gather outside at the road corners, compounds, doors and windows, etc.

      The second verse mentions that people who have compassion for the deceased should actually prepare suitable food and dedicate them to their departed souls. What is given to them reaches the departed as sure as “rainwater flows from the hills down to the sea”. After dana, we frequently chant these lines from this verse “Idam vo ñatinam hotu sukhita hontu ñatayo”. We are actually saying “May this be for you all departed relatives, may (you) relatives be well and happy.”

      [NB: Sometimes different words are used. Instead of “Idam vo ñatinam”, “Idam no/me ñatinam” are chanted. They can all be used, but they have slightly different meanings:

      vo means “you all”

      no means “our”

      me means “my”.]

      In their world the departed have no means of making a living because they can’t engage in the usual worldly occupations like farming, cattle rearing, trading, etc. They have to depend on these offerings. Out of gratitude, the departed in turn wish their living relatives good welfare and longevity.

      Recently, someone sent me an article titled “The So-Called Transference of Merits”, written by a scholar. This scholar researched the whole concept of transference of merits in the scriptures. It says that in the early suttas, there is no mention of transference of merits. For example, in the Sigalovada Sutta (DN 31) and Adiya Sutta (AN 5:41), it is the actual giving of material food and offerings to the departed that was praised by the Buddha. However, in the later texts of the Nikayas and commentaries, transference of merits was mentioned. A question arises: “How can merits be shared?”

      According to the Theravada understanding of the Law of Kamma, we are the makers and heirs of our own kamma. Therefore, there is no question of “sharing/transferring” meritorious kamma to another. The concept of transference of merits contradicts this understanding.

      For example, NidhiKanda Sutta (Khp 8) mentions that the kusala/wholesome things that we do are not common to other people, i.e. they cannot be shared. In Culasaccaka Sutta (MN 35), a person engaged in a debate wth the Buddha. When he lost, he was sporting enough to invite the Buddha and the Sangha for dana. He also invited his supporters to give him offerings so that he could offer them at the dana. After dana, he dedicated the merits attained to all those who have participated in the offering. The Buddha then told him that the merit gained by his supporters when they gave the food to an unpurified person like him would be for themselves whereas the different type of merit that he gained when he offered it to a purified person like the Buddha was accrued to himself only. Here, the Buddha appears to be saying that merits cannot be shared.

      This is a different scenario from that seen in Nandamata Sutta (AN 7:53). One early morning, Nanda’s mother was happily chanting some verses from the Sutta Nipata when she suddenly heard a voice saying, “Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!” She looked around in surprise. At that moment, Vesavana, King of the Yakkhas was actually passing by. When he heard the melodious chant, he stopped to listen and was so delighted that he cried, “Excellent!” When Nanda’s mother discovered that it was King Vesavana, she happily told him to let her chanting be a visitor’s gift to him. In return, King Vesavana informed her that the Venerables Sariputta and Moggallana will be arriving this way tomorrow with the whole community of monks and advised her to prepare breakfast for them. She should then dedicate the merits accrued to him.

      The next day, after the dana, Venerable Sariputta asked Nanda’s mother how she knew that the monks were passing this way. She told him the story of King Vesavana, after which she dedicated the merit and its fruit for the happiness of the king. In this sutta it would seem that merit could apparently be 'transferred' for Venerable Sariputta did not object to Nandamata’s dedication, unlike the case of Culasaccaka.

      There appears to be some sort of inconsistency here. In the end verse of the Kaladana Sutta (AN 5:36), the Buddha said that all those who either gave dana or offered their services as well as those who were not involved at all but witnessed the offering and then rejoiced in it, share the same amount of merits. It is clear now that while merit cannot actually be shared or transferred (for each of us is the heir of our own karma), it can be gained when a person rejoices in the good that is done. Merit is thus 'shared' in this way.

      In conclusion, I don’t know whether the idea of the departed returning to say goodbye within the 49 days time lapse is something that happens generally for all cultures or it is only found in the Far East because we are conditioned by our cultural circumstances. We think we ought to be there for 49 days, therefore we are stuck there for 49 days. There doesn’t seem to be this kind of report coming from the West.

      I am currently reading a book titled “The Journey of Souls” by Dr. Michael Newton, a psychotherapist who did several years of research compiling case studies of his clients on past-life regression. In many cases, he found that it is quite universal that when one dies, one does not get reborn immediately but goes on to an intermediate state where one's disembodied spirit is very much attached to the old body and surroundings. Depending on the degree of attachment, the length in the intermediate stage varies. One who is very attached to his past life stays longer whereas a highly developed person – an 'old soul' (as opposed to a 'young soul') goes on to another state which is higher than this earthly plane but is not yet a rebirth.

      As Buddhists, you might feel uncomfortable that the word “soul” is used here because the Buddha talked about anatta (no self/no soul) and we always link the word to the Christian/ Indian concept of a permanent unchanging entity. However, the use of the word “soul” here refers to the group of 5 aggregates that are in the process of evolution. A 'young soul' is not spiritually developed and has a lot of worldly attachments whereas an 'old soul' has gone through a lot of lessons in his previous lives and is spiritually more matured.

      Such a disembodied spirit might be restricted in their movements by certain laws that we do not yet understand. So, when we invite them to partake of the food offered, perhaps they rejoice in the good that we do and in this way, they create merits for themselves. As I said in the last part of my book Honouring the Departed, giving dana is a low end type of merit-making. Apparently, the beneficiary of our dana must be aware that we are offering the dana and they must rejoice in order to be able to benefit from it. For the high-end type of merit-making such as chanting, metta/vipassana meditation, this awareness may not be required.

      We hope that the late Madam Lee Tong Leng will benefit from today’s dana, dhamma talk and merit-making ceremony. We also hope that she will be able to let go of any attachment, positive or negative to this past life and fare on to a better existence.

      Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! SBS 

    • Loppon Malcolm : http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=6782&start=80 spanda wrote:

      And by the limitation imposed by Namdrol (somehow logical) its' very difficult to explain how this practices work.



      They work because we are all connected through the elements, and the elements are empty. 

      At the level of Dzogchen they function because of rtsal. 

      But there are serious limitations on what we can do for someone else. 

      Being a bodhisattva on the paths and stages does not mean one has knowledge of methods. It just means one has realized emptiness and is practicing the six perfections. 

      For example, in Tibetan Medicine we discuss the issue of karmic diseases. When someone has a karmic disease there is nothing they can do about it except accumulate merit. They can hire someone do rituals on their behalf, and this is effective because they are causing the action to take place, etc. etc. 

      When a community of people do a long life practice for teacher for example, as a community they are generating merit, and since the teacher belongs to that community too, also their own merit increases, etc. It is mutually reinforcing.
      .......
      Misdeeds cannot be washed away with water,
      the suffering of living beings cannot be removed with the hand,
      my realization cannot transferred to another,
      but by showing the true nature of things, there will be liberation.

  • Moderator
    Aik TC's Avatar
    644 posts since Jun '10
    •  

      Regarding the dedication of merit to others, the Dhammapada v.165 states:

      By oneself is evil alone; by oneself is one defiled.
      By oneself is evil left defiled; by oneself alone is one made pure.
      Purity and impurity depend on oneself;
      no one can purify another.

      So how does dedicating one's own merit to others actually going to benefit them? Besides, if merits can be transferred, it would contradict another important Buddhist teaching, the working of kamma.

       

      On the other hand, the Nidhikanda Sutta in Khuddakapatha states that:

       

      As river, when full must flow and reach and fill the distant main,
      so indeed what is given here will reach and bless the spirits there.
      As water poured on mountain top must soon descend and fill the plain,
      so indeed what is given here will reach and bless the spirits there.

      In the Mahayanist tradition, those who are reborn in the lower realms are still able to receive the merits from their loved ones living in human realm, but only possible through the grace and assistance of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. Any direct transference from a living relative would not be effective for those who have been reborn. It is an indirect transfer of merit through the devotion, homage and ritual performed in honour of the Bodhisattva. Direct transference of merit from a living relative to a deceased is only possible within 49 days of death and yet to be reborn.

       

      So this topic of the ‘transference of merit’ is certainly open to scholarly debate.

       

      My personal believes is that, good deeds or 'acts of merit' bring happiness to the doer both in this world and in the hereafter. It can only benefits the other party only if the living or deceased person in which it is dedicated to  is aware of the act or wish, then only can a mutual 'rejoicing in' merit takes place. But how can a deceased person be aware of such offering? Personally, I do have my doubt that it can be transferred to a deceased person.

       

      But again, it is a nice thought that merits can be transferred. So pick whichever choose that you feel comfortable and good with.

       

      Edited by Aik TC 11 Nov `12, 11:08PM
  • mr music's Avatar
    255 posts since Mar '12
  • Dharmadhatu's Avatar
    481 posts since Oct '11
    • not only for deceased.  Buddhists should also help their parents to accumulate merits with strong dedications. Especially if parents are not practising. This is very important. Due to strong karmic connection between parents and children, the dedication can function even better.

       

  • mr music's Avatar
    255 posts since Mar '12
    • “Direct transference of merit from a living relative to a deceased is only possible within 49 days of death and yet to be reborn.”

      I didnt know of the above and I always thought the deceased can still receive the merits even if they are reincarnated. I suppose my grandparents, who died many years ago, will not be able to receive the merits I transfer to her by chanting Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva sutra?

      I heard that if I burn offerings to the deceased but if they are already reincarnated, it will become winings in 4D or TOTO when they buy in their next life.

  • Dawnfirstlight's Avatar
    3,243 posts since Nov '09
    • Originally posted by mr music:

      “Direct transference of merit from a living relative to a deceased is only possible within 49 days of death and yet to be reborn.”

      I didnt know of the above and I always thought the deceased can still receive the merits even if they are reincarnated. I suppose my grandparents, who died many years ago, will not be able to receive the merits I transfer to her by chanting Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva sutra?

      I heard that if I burn offerings to the deceased but if they are already reincarnated, it will become winings in 4D or TOTO when they buy in their next life.

      The reason why it is important to dedicate merits within 49 days is that it will help the deceased to be reborn in Pureland or 3 upper realms (heaven, human, demi-god). It is still effective to dedicate the merits to the deceased after 49 days but it is to help them live better in the realm they had already reborn in. This is my understanding.

      2 of my friends whose loved ones had passed away recently. Their loved ones were not practicing Buddhists. However, my friends are practicing Buddhists and they chanted and dedicated the merits to their loved ones when they passed away. They went to draw lots at the Waterloo Street Guanyin Temple to know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Both of them drew the same lot (Lot 80 if I remember correctly) which could not be coincident. The lots said that their loved ones were reborn in heaven.

       

      Edited by Dawnfirstlight 12 Nov `12, 4:43PM
    • Regarding offerings to the deceased, there was once someone asked me why Eastern spirits need offerings, what about the western spirits? Can anyone answer this question? I guess it got to do with different culture. Do the spirits really take the offerings? I've really no idea but according to people with 3rd eyes, they said yes.

      Edited by Dawnfirstlight 12 Nov `12, 4:41PM
  • mr music's Avatar
    255 posts since Mar '12
    • Originally posted by Dawnfirstlight:

      The reason why it is important to dedicate merits within 49 days is that it will help the deceased to be reborn in Pureland or 3 upper realms (heaven, human, demi-god). It is still effective to dedicate the merits to the deceased after 49 days but it is to help them live better in the realm they had already reborn in. This is my understanding.

      2 of my friends whose loved ones had passed away recently. Their loved ones were not practicing Buddhists. However, my friends are practicing Buddhists and they chanted and dedicated the merits to their loved ones when they passed away. They went to draw lots at the Waterloo Street Guanyin Temple to know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Both of them drew the same lot (Lot 80 if I remember correctly) which could not be coincident. The lots said that their loved ones were reborn in heaven.

       


      The deceased are very lucky to have buddhist friends who will chant for them. Chanting sutras is amazing... truly beautiful ..Guanyin lots are very accurate.

  • 2009novice's Avatar
    919 posts since Oct '09
    • I believe merits can be transferred.

      Maybe not all agree on the term purify... i think for me dilute is better term icon_smile.gif

      the good karma can dilute the evil one... unless the good is greater than the evil

    • Originally posted by Dharmadhatu:

      not only for deceased.  Buddhists should also help their parents to accumulate merits with strong dedications. Especially if parents are not practising. This is very important. Due to strong karmic connection between parents and children, the dedication can function even better.

       

      yes... couldn't agree more... my parents don't know buddhism... and i'm afraid of the 3 evil paths they will fall

  • Moderator
    An Eternal Now's Avatar
    17,229 posts since Sep '04
    • Loppon Namdrol says however:

      Sherab wrote:
      spanda wrote:...Therefore I wonder, is really impossible to take someone else karma, or it is possible in exceptional cases?

      My speculation:
      Enlightened beings can take away the karma that you have already created but they cannot stop you from creating new karma. Without the stopping of creation of new karma, taking away karma already created is ultimately an exercise in futility.


      Quite impossible, from a Buddhist pov.

      However, in Hinduism, Jivanmuktis are considered able to accomplish this feat.

       

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

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:16 am

      Sherab wrote:However, all theses anecdotes do not square with what I was taught about karma .. that it cannot be taken away by someone else. But I think the suttas and sutras are silent about this. So what I've stated in my previous post is my way of resolving the impasse.


      They are not silent about it. The sutras reject this idea explicitly.

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

      Misdeeds cannot be washed away with water,
      the suffering of living beings cannot be removed with the hand,
      my realization cannot transferred to another,
      but by showing the true nature of things, there will be liberation.

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

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:51 pm

      spanda wrote:
      Could someone explain me, what exactly Milarepa did? Was Milarepa capable (if he wanted) to take someones else's suffering? If yes, this mean that he could "take"/reduce someone else karma?


      This is a story in a Tibetan novel. Pure fiction.

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

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:54 pm

      AlexanderS wrote:Is negative karma cannot be taken, how can merit then be giving and shared?


      Merit is not shared in a real sense, but by sharing your merit you create much more for yourself.
      ------------------------------

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:56 pm

      dakini_boi wrote:What about the case of a Buddha liberating demons? While not exactly taking on their karma, if a Buddha can actually liberate them, then their karma is completely dismantled.


      This is entirely symbolic -- demons arise because of your affliction and karma. When you have eliminated your own affliction and karma, then demons become gods.

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

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:46 am

      xabir wrote:
      Namdrol wrote:Merit is not shared in a real sense, but by sharing your merit you create much more for yourself.
      So the story in the sutras about mogallana saving his mother in hell by dedicating merits have no basis in dharma at all?

      Also, "according to the Sutra of The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, one can "transfer" 1/7 merit of an act they have performed to a deceased loved one"... You think this is not true?


      If the transfer of merit could rescue beings from samsara, then considering that no one has greater merit than a Buddha, and no greater generosity, why have we not all been liberated?

      In any event, I think the Ksitigarbha sutra is 100% Chinese apocrypha.

      N
      ------------------------------

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:27 pm

      kirtu wrote:
      The suttas referenced wrt merit transfer for dead relatives are the Sigaloavada Sutta, Tirokudda Kanda Sutta, and the Janussonin Sutta.



      Sigaloavada Sutta has alms offerred on behalf of the dead -- which is clearly a pre-Buddhist custom such as that mentioned in the first part of the Mahāparinibbana.

      Tirokudda Kanda Sutta: has clean good and drink offereed to pretas, but the merit accrued is one's own.

      Janussonin Sutta: http://online-dhamma.net/nanda/AccessTo ... .than.html

      This sutras says that gifts made to one's ancestors who have been reborn as hell beings, animals, gods or human cannot be enjoyed by them. However, gifts made to hungary ghosts can be enjoyed by them. In all cases the donor enjoys the merit of the gift.

      N
      ------------------------------

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:48 pm

      The idea that Buddhas can take on the karma of sentient beings is the worst sort of theistic thinking.
      ------------------------------

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:37 am

      Sherab wrote:
      Namdrol wrote:The idea that Buddhas can take on the karma of sentient beings is the worst sort of theistic thinking.

      Assertion like this without providing explanations does not help move a discussion forward to a resolution and is merely an attempt to impose a particular viewpoint. And I think no one here is really referring to the action karma or any latency but to the manifested results.



      The Buddhas are free from experiencing the ripening of the result of karma [karmavipakaphala], hence it stands to reason they cannot take on the results of karma.

      Birth in one of the six lokas is the manifested result of karma. Do you think Buddha can just place one in nirvana?
      ------------------------------

      Re: "taking someone else's negative karma"

      Postby Malcolm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:39 am

      Sherab wrote:
      I've asked for quotations to show that manifested results cannot be remove from a being by another...


      How about "suffering cannot be removed with the hand..."

      This is about as clear a citation as you can get.
      ------------------------------

    • I'm thinking the only possible way for merit to be transferred is in fact not to transfer the merit, but the deceased relative (in this case, a spirit)'s conscious recognition and gladful acceptance of such a deed, since that would amount in effect to partaking in the deed itself.

      Edited by An Eternal Now 12 Nov `12, 7:23PM
  • 2009novice's Avatar
    919 posts since Oct '09
  • Moderator
    An Eternal Now's Avatar
    17,229 posts since Sep '04
    • Loppon Namdrol comes from the Mahayana/Vajrayana tradition and yet he does not seem to accept transference of merit in the strict sense.

      I guess different people have different ideas about it. The Pali suttas however does not appear to have a firm basis that supports literal transference of merit...

      In fact it would seem that the Buddha had explicitly rejected the notion that merits could be literally transferred:

      For example, NidhiKanda Sutta (Khp 8) mentions that the kusala/wholesome things that we do are not common to other people, i.e. they cannot be shared. In Culasaccaka Sutta (MN 35), a person engaged in a debate wth the Buddha. When he lost, he was sporting enough to invite the Buddha and the Sangha for dana. He also invited his supporters to give him offerings so that he could offer them at the dana. After dana, he dedicated the merits attained to all those who have participated in the offering. The Buddha then told him that the merit gained by his supporters when they gave the food to an unpurified person like him would be for themselves whereas the different type of merit that he gained when he offered it to a purified person like the Buddha was accrued to himself only. Here, the Buddha appears to be saying that merits cannot be shared.

      Edited by An Eternal Now 12 Nov `12, 8:08PM
  • Dharmadhatu's Avatar
    481 posts since Oct '11

    • About taking other peoples' karma, i believe it can be done.  But it is no use arguing whether it can be or not.  Whether you think can or not does not affect your practice. Just practice hard and adopt wisely in cause-and-effect. 

       

      Edited by Dharmadhatu 12 Nov `12, 8:26PM
    • Originally posted by Dharmadhatu:


       

       

       

      Edited by Dharmadhatu 12 Nov `12, 8:26PM
    • Originally posted by An Eternal Now:

       

      For example, NidhiKanda Sutta (Khp 8) mentions that the kusala/wholesome things that we do are not common to other people, i.e. they cannot be shared. In Culasaccaka Sutta (MN 35), a person engaged in a debate wth the Buddha. When he lost, he was sporting enough to invite the Buddha and the Sangha for dana. He also invited his supporters to give him offerings so that he could offer them at the dana. After dana, he dedicated the merits attained to all those who have participated in the offering. The Buddha then told him that the merit gained by his supporters when they gave the food to an unpurified person like him would be for themselves whereas the different type of merit that he gained when he offered it to a purified person like the Buddha was accrued to himself only. Here, the Buddha appears to be saying that merits cannot be shared.

      I tried to search for the Culasaccaka Sutta but only found this below ending to the sutta... is there any other version? I could not find the part about Buddha's discourse on merits...

      Then Saccaka the son of Nigan.tha knowing that the Blessed One had accepted addressed the Licchavis: Good Licchavis, listen. I have invited the Blessed One and the Community of bhikkhus for tomorrow’s meal. Bring what ever you think is suitable. Then those Licchavis at the end of that night brought five hundred bowls filled with cooked rice. Saccaka the son of Nigan.tha too caused to prepare plenty of nourishing eatables and drinks in his own monastery, and informed the time to the Blessed One: Good Gotama, it is time, the food is ready. Then the Blessed One putting on robes in the morning and taking bowl and robes, approached the monastery of Saccaka the son of Nigan.tha and sat on the prepared seat together with the Community of bhikkhus. Then Saccaka the son of Nigan.tha with his own hands offered plenty of nourishing eatables and drinks to the Community of bhikkhus headed by the Enlightened One. Saccaka the son of Nigan.tha saw that the Blessed One had finished taking the meal and had put away the bowl, then he took a low seat sat on a side, and said to the Blessed One. May the excellent merits of this offering, be to those givers. Aggivessana, may merits accured from offerings made to you, not free from greed, hate and delusion, be to the givers. May merits accured from making offerings to me, free of greed, hate and delusion,(*3) be to you.. .

  • Moderator
    An Eternal Now's Avatar
    17,229 posts since Sep '04
    • That translation is faulty. Let me copy for you the "definitive" (or widely recognized definitive translation) Majjhima Nikaya translation (which I have read bottom to end 1367 pages not counting glossary/index) by Bhikkhu Bodhi, now placed neatly near Buddha's statue in consideration of Dharmapala's dream admonition biggrin.png

       

      "28. Then, knowing that the Blessed One had consented, Saccaka the Nigantha's son addressed the Licchavis: "Hear me, Licchavis. The recluse Gotama together with the Sangha of good bhikkhus has been invited by me for tomorrow's meal. you may bring to me whatever you think would be suitable for him.

      29. Then, when the night had ended, the Licchavis brought five hundred ceremonial dishes of milk rice as gifts of food. Then Saccaka the Nigantha's son had good food of various kinds prepared in his own park and had the time announced to the Blessed One: "It is time, Master Gotama, the meal is ready."

      30. Then, it being morning, the Blessed One dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, he went with the Sangha of bhikkhus to the park of Saccaka the Nigantha's son and sat down on the seat made ready. Then, with his own hands, Saccaka the Nigantha's son served and satisfied the Sangha of bhikkhus headed by the Buddha with the various kinds of good food. When the Blessed One had eaten and had put his bowl aside, Saccaka the Nigantha's son took a low seat, sat down at one side, and said to the Blessed One: "Master Gotama, may the merit and the great meritorious fruits of this act of giving be for the happiness of the givers."

      "Aggivessana, whatever comes about from giving to a recipient such as yourself - one who is not free from lust, not free from hate, not free from delusion - [237] that will be for the givers. And whatever comes about from giving to a recipient such as myself - one who is free from lust, free from hate, free from delusion - that will be for you."^note 379

       

      note 379: Though Saccaka admitted defeat in debate, he must have still considered himself a saint, and thus did not feel impelled to go for refuge to the Triple Gem. Also, because he continued to regard himself as a saint, he must have felt that it was not proper for him to dedicate the merit of the alms offering to himself, and thus he wished to dedicate the merit to the Licchavis. But the Buddha replies that the Licchavis will gain the merit of providing Saccaka with food to offer to the Buddha, while Saccaka himself will gain the merit of offering the food to the Buddha. The merit of giving alms differs in quality according to the purity of the recipient, as explained at MN 142.7.

       

       

      Edited by An Eternal Now 13 Nov `12, 3:13AM
  • 2009novice's Avatar
    919 posts since Oct '09
    • is there a hidden/subtle meaning from the difference between the suttas and sutras...?

      for example, Janussonin Sutta states that beings in certain realms cannot receive the merits, can it be due to 定业? it's like the sentient being have to suffer the bad karma 1st...

      As for Ksitigarbha sutra, not just this sutra state it is possible to dedicate merit... in fact i think there are also other Maha sutras said it's possible... sorry i can't give the quotes now... Also, at the end of chanting or dharma talk, there will be a dedication of merits to all sentient beings... 愿以此功德,.....etc

  • riccia1's Avatar
    31 posts since Feb '05
    • Pls refer to Ksitigarbha Sutra. One part can be transferred to the deceased, 6 parts to the persons who perform the merit transferring tasks. 

      Pls read the whole sutra. Very interesting and insightful. You just need one 1 hour only.

      Amituofo

      rgds

       

  • Moderator
    An Eternal Now's Avatar
    17,229 posts since Sep '04
    • Ksitigarbha Sutra was the questioned I posed personally to Loppon.

    • Originally posted by 2009novice:

      is there a hidden/subtle meaning from the difference between the suttas and sutras...?

      for example, Janussonin Sutta states that beings in certain realms cannot receive the merits, can it be due to 定业? it's like the sentient being have to suffer the bad karma 1st...

      As for Ksitigarbha sutra, not just this sutra state it is possible to dedicate merit... in fact i think there are also other Maha sutras said it's possible... sorry i can't give the quotes now... Also, at the end of chanting or dharma talk, there will be a dedication of merits to all sentient beings... 愿以此功德,.....etc

      You weren't reading Janussonin Sutta properly.

      Janussonin Sutta is saying you can offer food offerings to spirits. How do spirits 'eat'? They smell. Also, this is why in Mahayana Buddhism, there are certain practises where you can visualize and offer food for spirits, and the spirits can actually receive tangible benefits. They may even thank you in your dream. And if you visualize wrongly, they will complain to you in your dream. Yes my Master's student experienced this before (being distracted and visualizing a button, then the button became their food, so they complained to my Master).

      See Loppon's commentary:

      This sutras says that gifts made to one's ancestors who have been reborn as hell beings, animals, gods or human cannot be enjoyed by them. However, gifts made to hungary ghosts can be enjoyed by them. In all cases the donor enjoys the merit of the gift.

       

      In all cases, the merits accrued is your own.

      Edited by An Eternal Now 13 Nov `12, 3:09PM
  • mr music's Avatar
    255 posts since Mar '12
    • Originally posted by riccia1:

      Pls refer to Ksitigarbha Sutra. One part can be transferred to the deceased, 6 parts to the persons who perform the merit transferring tasks. 

      Pls read the whole sutra. Very interesting and insightful. You just need one 1 hour only.

      Amituofo

      rgds

       


      Thats why if you want to transfer one Ksitigarbha Sutra to a person, you need to chant 7 times. 1/7 * 7 = 1 and you receive 6/7 *7= 6 Are you sure you just need 1 hour to chant the whole sutra? I just cant believe it. I heard of a man who chant 妙法蓮華經 one whole book many times in 1-2 weeks, which is almost an impossible feat. He has seen all his past lives and has tour the heaven.

  • Moderator
    sinweiy's Avatar
    4,015 posts since Jun '05
    •  

      Misdeeds cannot be washed away with water,
      the suffering of living beings cannot be removed with the hand,
      my realization cannot transferred to another,
      but by showing the true nature of things, there will be liberation.

      of coz realization cannot be transferred to another. i cannot do an action(karma) for you. like u hungry i cannot eat for u. 

      Merit is not shared in a real sense, but by sharing your merit you create much more for yourself.

      this i agreed. t'is why i believe when u donate, don't care whether the person u donate to take the money to do what. generousity is yours to keep. 


      interesting from Loppon POV. actually what exactly is merit or virtue? there's no real substance in it. it's not like brownie points. just like karma is action also not like a real substance that can be calculated. in the ten doubt of PL, karma is said to has been with you for time without begining like a dark room, but when you open the window, all can be turn into light at once. 
      when Liang Wu Di built many pagodas and asked Bodhidharma whether got virtue or not, Bodhidharma said none 功德.
      功德 no (due to self wanting a reward) 福德 have(can get one to reborn in higher realm, or reborn rich). when someone become a Budha/president, his family members do have some 福德 merits "shared", like be reborn in heaven(up to Trayastrimsa) or gain some wealth or have a better life. but 功德 virtue has always been one's own cultivation. 

      /\



       

      Edited by sinweiy 14 Nov `12, 8:29AM
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