"With no understanding of the meaning of absence,
But engaging only in mere studies
And failing to engage in meritorious acts-
Such base people are lost."
(Nagarjuna: Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning, v. 31, tr. Thupten Jinpa)"Practicing as a lay practitioner is conducive to cultivating merit, but disadvantageous to cultivating wisdom. For laypeople already possessing plenty of karmic blessings, it’s even easier for them to cultivate merit."
(Shengyan: Living Lay Life versus Living the Monastic Life
Doing good things generates good karma, that's a basic doctrine of Buddhism. Charity is the most straightforward way to accumulate merit. The laity supports the monastics by donations and in return harvests merit. But besides material support there is another kind. The Dhammapada says: "The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts" (v. 354
). In chapter five of the Prajnaparamita Sutra in 8000 Stanzas it is explained that the greatest amount of merit is accumulated when one not simply copies and gives away the sutra but also explains them to others. In the Diamond Sutra it is regularly stated how memorising and spreading the sutra generates greater merit than any other kind of giving (e.g. ch. 11-16, 24). The Lotus Sutra has several chapters (17-19) describing all the immense merit gained by reading, reciting, teaching and simply hearing about the sutra. In the penultimate chapter (13) of the Vimalakirti Sutra we are told that the merit of that scripture is immeasurable, because "the enlightenment of the Buddhas arises from the Dharma, and one honors them by the Dharma worship, and not by material worship"
The Dharma-Seal Sutra
Spoken by the Buddha for Ocean Dragon King, that teaches briefly about the four seals, states: "if one can accept, uphold, read, and recite them, and can understand their meanings, although he spends little effort, he will gain lots of blessings. The merits and virtues that he gains will be the same as reading and reciting eighty-four thousand Dharma-Stores."
That is, by understanding the four seals one covers all the other sutras and the merit of their studying.
But there is more. Tendo Nyojo (teacher of Dogen) is often quoted, "Just-sitting is all you need. You don't need to make burning incense offerings, meditate upon the names of buddhas, repent, study the scriptures or do recitation rituals."
The sole practice of zazen is enough. Linji goes one step further:
One day the Councilor Wang visited the master. When he met the master in front of the Monks’ Hall, he asked, “Do the monks of this monastery read the sutras?”
“No, they don’t read sutras,” said the master.
“Then do they learn meditation?” asked the councilor.
“No, they don’t learn meditation,” answered the master.
“If they neither read sutras nor learn meditation, what in the world are they doing?” asked the councilor.
“All I do is make them become buddhas and patriarchs,” said the master.
The councilor said, “Though gold dust is valuable, in the eyes it causes cataracts.”
“I always used to think you were just a common fellow,” said the master.
(Record of Linji, p. 301, tr. Sasaki)