The advantages of making merit with a faithful mind
“Merit” is a short word but is important to our lives. Merit is the only source of happiness and success in all our lives, and is the supporter that enables us to reach the aim of being born as a human. In order to be a perfect human and possess the perfect appearance, wealth, qualities, and to fully gain opportunities to make donations, preserve the precepts and meditate, we need to rely on Merit. Merit is therefore the most important thing in our lives, and we should not let time pass by without increasing our Merit.
The Lord Buddha announced in Maccharī Sutta that;
“People of the earth, if they know the teachings, live without greed in mind, have faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, and have high respect for them. These people are hence born in heaven, and when they are born as a human being, they will be born in a wealthy family and easily gain clothes, food, joy and delight. Their power will reach to others’ collected and joyous wealth. That is the consequence of their current life, and they will reach to a realm of heaven in their next life”
Every human being in this world, when they grow up, all start to hope and yearn for success in life, they all want to see and gain great things. Most people set their desire on just two levels, the first one is earthly desire to gain happiness as normal people; to be perfect in appearance, wealth and quality. They yearn for money, glory, praise and happiness like other people have. The second level of desire is for life in heaven, which means to gain riches and a place in heaven, to own a light and radiant appearance, to live a long life and spend a long time enjoying riches in heaven.
May we not fall into hell, may heaven be the only place for us after we die. These two aims can be reached, we need to count upon Merit apart from wisdom and capability because Merit is the only source of all happiness and every success. Without Merit, life will always have obstacles. Merit is therefore the root of all achievement.
For example, an event happened in the Buddha era, when the Lord Buddha was staying at Veluvana Maha Vihara. There was a time when people of Rajagaha city collectively stopped working just to help cleaning the roads and places. They placed various kinds of scented flowers, popped rice, banana trees and pots full with water in front of the door of every house. They decorated places with beautiful and colourful flags and also dressed in great clothes to celebrate in the festival for seven days.
One day King Bimbisara of Rajagaha city came out from his royal palace with a great number of courtiers and many people witnessed the king’s greatness. There was a lady who saw the king’s wealth and his majestic power, she was utterly amazed so she asked a wise man.
“The king’s wealth seems amazingly divine, what merit did he accumulate which has provided him much more greatly than common people like us?”
The wise answered; “Look, the great lady, it is for the reason that he had well accumulated much merit, because Merit is merely compared to a precious jewel which makes human’s every wish come true, it is like the Wishing Tree in Uttarakuru continent which grants human’s wishes. When the fertile merit field which is monks exists, donated objects are pure, an intention of the donors is willing, and when greed is severed from mind, the merit can grant every wish that we all hope for.
Look, the great lady, being an aristocrat in royal family is a fruit of donating seats to monks. Have you ever heard of the Lord Buddha’s teaching which says ‘He who gives rice is deemed to give strength, he who gives clothes is deemed to gives complexion, he who gives a vehicle is deemed to give happiness, he who gives light is deemed to give eyes, he who gives shelter is deemed to give all things’. Anything which you long for, may you accumulate merit for such wealth”
After listening to the wise man, the lady considered that the wealth of the King’s on earth is greatly exquisite, and so riches in heaven ought certainly to be much greater. She was influenced and determined to keep accumulating Merit.
On that very day, the lady’s father had sent her new clothes, a new chair, a handful of lotus, butter, honey, sugar, grain and good quality milk. She was delighted to see those things since she wished to make donation and now she had such fine offerings. She managed to make a great offering, she made a fine rice porridge and decorated a great amount of food to go with the porridge. She sprayed fragrance all over the dining room, placed the seats above the perfectly blooming and beautiful lotus. Then she placed a new white cloth, four lotus and garments on the seats. On the ceiling above the seats she hung flowers and tassels, and also the lotus petals with pollen were scattered around the seats. She placed the tray with pedestal full of great scented fresh flowers to welcome, and she did all of that with joy and delight for the entire time.
After she finished preparing the place and getting ready, she waited for the time for the fertile merit field to come and when it was time, she said to her maidservant “Dear, please go invite the fertile merit field for me ” The maid servant made a wish in her mind to find a great monk. Soon she found Sāriputta asking for alms at the moment, she invited him to go to her mistress’s resident. When the lady saw the monk she went to welcome him with respect. She invited him to sit on the seat and offered the fine rice porridge. While she was taking care of him she made a wish in mind that “With the influence of my merit, may I gain elegant celestial possession as throne and crown above a celestial elephant”
When the meal was finished, the lady cleaned the alms bowl and filled it with the butter, honey and rock sugar for the monk. She used the cloth on the chair to support underneath the alms bowl and gave it to the monk along with the seat for him to meditate and pray. The monk rejoiced in her merit and blessed her to gain everything she wished for. From that moment on she continued accumulating merit, when she passed away she was born in a celestial golden palace a hundred leagues in height in Tavatimsa Heaven. Her every wish had come true, she also owned a thousand goddess as followers, a five league high celestial elephant decorated with lotus garlands, golden garments and it was lightened and radiant, it also had covers decorated with gemstones which all granted her wish. There was a league high golden throne on the celestial elephant, whenever she would like to go somewhere, she would just sit on the glorious throne.
Once when Phra Moggallāna met her by chance, he went to ask her “Look, graceful goddess, who has eyes like a lotus petal and complexion like a lotus. Your celestial elephant vehicle is decorated with gems and has perfect strength and rapidity and it travels through the air quickly. You have pure and decorated garments and are sitting above the royal elephant. You are also much more glorious than other goddesses, is this a fruit of giving, precepts or other kinds of deeds? May you please recount your actions to me?”
The goddess was delighted when heard the question, she recounted everything to him, joyfully.
This is one of the results of well accumulated merit. If most people constantly make merit alongside making a living, they will achieve both goals of life. And everyone can gain celestial riches as well. I (Luang Phaw) consider that this is a mundane thing that we all have to reach, and that there’s another much more important goal, the ultimate goal that above all we must be able to reach, which is to gain Nirvana, which is the one true blissful happiness. It is complete happiness that even human wealth and celestial riches could never compare to, it is to follow the path of the enlightened disciples of the Lord Buddha. This is the highest goal that we wish for.
We have lived lives before and dedicated our lives to accumulating merit because we hope for Nirvana. To gain Nirvana at present can be done by being still until we can see Nirvana inside through meditation, which is the three internal jewels, the clear and bright Dhammakaya in the centre of our body. Thereby, we can convince others to fully accumulate merit and practice making our minds be still and calm, so that we all can reach in to internal Nirvana, which is Dhammakaya.
Translated by Joy Yomjinda