Merit Giving?

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Merit Giving?

Postby Motova » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:16 pm

I was wondering if ya'll think it is possible to give merit to other beings by doing practices for them? This is concerning my family. My mom classifies herself as an Anglican, my dad is agnostic (but doesn't show much interest in religion), my brother is a Gnostic (so I'm not worried about him), and my dog is obviously unable to do anything religious. It struck me a week ago that my dog was half way through his life (most likely), and that my dad is a bit older than his dad when he died (of a heart attack due to high blood pressure, which my dad already has). My dad says he doesn't have time to read or really try to find himself spiritually as he works really hard to maintain our current lifestyle and to keep us from losing our house (which is true). He is honestly very patient, kind, and selfless and I think he would make a great Buddhist. I made him promise me to read the Dalai Lama's book called, "How to See Yourself as You Really Are". I'm not trying to convert him to Buddhism, I only want him to reflect on life and those 'essential questions' (honestly I would be happy if he took an interest in any religion).

So basically I'm asking if it's possible for me to directly influence and better their next birth? Any mantras or prayers? Anything?

:namaste:

/Dylan
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby kirtu » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:47 pm

Motova wrote:I was wondering if ya'll think it is possible to give merit to other beings by doing practices for them? This is concerning my family.....

So basically I'm asking if it's possible for me to directly influence and better their next birth? Any mantras or prayers? Anything?


Really good question. The short answer is no, it is not possible to give merit to other beings (then why are ethnic Buddhists always talking about transferring merit?). Is it possible to directly influence their karma? No. I asked these questions for years of three teachers - a Tibetan Buddhist lineage holder and two TB's Khenpo's. Everyone creates and experiences their own karma.

However other's can be influenced indirectly and the Buddha did give us ways to transfer merit (like for relatives in the Hungry Ghost Realm). But these are all for them after they leave this realm. Prayers for friend and loved ones after they leave this life are said to have some influence. In part this seems to be because they can see or hear that practice is happening for them and they have the opportunity to rejoice in that, thus creating merit.

OTOH, all beings are deeply interrelated and prayers for them in this life may seem to be able to have some slight influence. For animals and pets the influences may be more direct. Lama Zopa has many recommendations for blowing mantras into their food and water and saying mantras that they can hear and thus make a connection to the Dharma for future lives.

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:53 pm

The best way to influence people is to change yourself. This will influence the way you interact with people and thus will influence the outcome of your (and their) interaction.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:37 pm

Really nice question!

I think the best thing is just try to help them, rather than worrying about how they see the world, at least for now. I have struggled with similar stuff. This will be better for all of you than trying to help them find religion, especially your Dad, it sounds like he has a reasonably busy life, with some definite weight placed on his shoulders. Anything you can do for him will not only alleviate some of the pressure, but in turn maybe give him some time to "figure things out" or whatever. If someone wants to discuss Dharma or spirituality..awesome, but seriously the most likely way to save most people from their suffering is just to do what little you can to alleviate some of it.

It sounds corny and cliche, but if you can act altruistically for them (never easy, but it's the key to a "real" practice i'm coming to believe), the acts will tflip something on in you, and they will see that, this will do more to at least generate respect - if not interest- in your spiritual pursuits.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:52 pm

You can lead a man to Buddha, but you can't make him meditate.

So, what Greg said.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Motova » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:53 pm

Thanks for the quick answers. I have been blowing on my dog and his cookies after reciting my mantras in an effort to plant some karmic seeds (term coined by Tsem Rinpoche in one of his videos) in him for his future lives, but I was doubting the effect. Could I do that for my whole family if I blew in the fridge or in their rooms? :twothumbsup:

:namaste:

/Dylan
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:18 am

Thus, when a person who has recited ten malas of om mani padme hum a day goes into a river or an ocean, the water that touches the person’s body gets blessed, and this blessed water then purifies all the billions and billions of sentient beings in the water. So it’s unbelievably beneficial; this person saves the animals in that water from the most unbelievable suffering of the lower realms.

When such a person walks down a road and the wind touches his or her body and then goes on to touch insects, their negative karma gets purified and causes them to have a good rebirth. Similarly, when such a person does massage or otherwise touches others’ bodies, those people’s negative karma also gets purified.

Such a person becomes meaningful to behold; being seen and touched becomes a means of liberating other sentient beings. This means that even the person’s breath touching the bodies of other sentient beings purifies their negative karma. Anybody who drinks the water in which such a person has swum gets purified.


http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=439
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Motova » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:17 am

Konchog1 wrote:
Thus, when a person who has recited ten malas of om mani padme hum a day goes into a river or an ocean, the water that touches the person’s body gets blessed, and this blessed water then purifies all the billions and billions of sentient beings in the water. So it’s unbelievably beneficial; this person saves the animals in that water from the most unbelievable suffering of the lower realms.

When such a person walks down a road and the wind touches his or her body and then goes on to touch insects, their negative karma gets purified and causes them to have a good rebirth. Similarly, when such a person does massage or otherwise touches others’ bodies, those people’s negative karma also gets purified.

Such a person becomes meaningful to behold; being seen and touched becomes a means of liberating other sentient beings. This means that even the person’s breath touching the bodies of other sentient beings purifies their negative karma. Anybody who drinks the water in which such a person has swum gets purified.


http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=439


Aha that's awesome! I would do ten malas of om mani padme hum, I would then run to where my dog was, then take a big breath and put my mouth to his fourhead and blow which would make his head warm (which makes it even more fun to do). :twothumbsup: Thanks so much for the link!

:namaste:

/Dylan
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Jesse » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:55 am

So much for temple donations. :o
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby PorkChop » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:09 am

My first response was "why not 'trick' him into performing meritorious actions?"
Tell him you want to do some sort of charity project, like helping out at a soup kitchen or something, and ask him to help you out.
At the very least, it might help him forget himself a little while.
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby GrahamR » Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Motova wrote:I was wondering if ya'll think it is possible to give merit to other beings by doing practices for them? This is concerning my family. My mom classifies herself as an Anglican, my dad is agnostic (but doesn't show much interest in religion), my brother is a Gnostic (so I'm not worried about him), and my dog is obviously unable to do anything religious. It struck me a week ago that my dog was half way through his life (most likely), and that my dad is a bit older than his dad when he died (of a heart attack due to high blood pressure, which my dad already has). My dad says he doesn't have time to read or really try to find himself spiritually as he works really hard to maintain our current lifestyle and to keep us from losing our house (which is true). He is honestly very patient, kind, and selfless and I think he would make a great Buddhist. I made him promise me to read the Dalai Lama's book called, "How to See Yourself as You Really Are". I'm not trying to convert him to Buddhism, I only want him to reflect on life and those 'essential questions' (honestly I would be happy if he took an interest in any religion).

So basically I'm asking if it's possible for me to directly influence and better their next birth? Any mantras or prayers? Anything?

:namaste:

/Dylan


in Theravada Buddhism you can dedicate merit to others

Also merit it like a candle shedding light to others

Graham
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby kirtu » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:23 pm

GrahamR wrote:in Theravada Buddhism you can dedicate merit to others


Do you have a sutric reference for that?

Also merit it like a candle shedding light to others


Excellent point!

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby dude » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:48 pm

Motova wrote:I was wondering if ya'll think it is possible to give merit to other beings by doing practices for them? This is concerning my family. My mom classifies herself as an Anglican, my dad is agnostic (but doesn't show much interest in religion), my brother is a Gnostic (so I'm not worried about him), and my dog is obviously unable to do anything religious. It struck me a week ago that my dog was half way through his life (most likely), and that my dad is a bit older than his dad when he died (of a heart attack due to high blood pressure, which my dad already has). My dad says he doesn't have time to read or really try to find himself spiritually as he works really hard to maintain our current lifestyle and to keep us from losing our house (which is true). He is honestly very patient, kind, and selfless and I think he would make a great Buddhist. I made him promise me to read the Dalai Lama's book called, "How to See Yourself as You Really Are". I'm not trying to convert him to Buddhism, I only want him to reflect on life and those 'essential questions' (honestly I would be happy if he took an interest in any religion).

So basically I'm asking if it's possible for me to directly influence and better their next birth? Any mantras or prayers? Anything?

:namaste:

/Dylan



Family members are tied to each other by deep bonds of karma. When you change your karma, you create the conditions to enable them to change their karma as well. You have made an effort to teach them the Law, so the seed of enlightenment has been planted in their lives. Your thoughts of loving kindness for them will create the conditions for the seed to become fertile so they can advance.
When you attain enlightenment, you open the way for your whole family to attain enlightenment, seven generations in the past and seven generations in the future.
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:53 pm

Dedicating your merit to others is a good thing to do. It doesn't do them any direct good - Buddhism is not a magical spell. However, it does you good. Dedicating your merit to others makes you a better influence on them.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:09 pm

I don't think the correct attitude with dedication of merits or tonglen etc should be "this is just symbolic" either, however.

The core intuition of the Mahayana is that we're all in the same boat together.
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby dude » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:40 pm

KeithBC wrote:Dedicating your merit to others is a good thing to do. It doesn't do them any direct good - Buddhism is not a magical spell. However, it does you good. Dedicating your merit to others makes you a better influence on them.

Om mani padme hum
Keith


I think that observation is valid. On the other hand, speaking strictly for myself, I have come to entertain a pretty strong conviction the state of one's own mind is interdependent with the conditions existing in the entire universe. The direction of our thoughts, even before (or even if ) we act on them, affects everything.
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby cataractmoon » Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:34 am

Motova wrote:I was wondering if ya'll think it is possible to give merit to other beings by doing practices for them? This is concerning my family. My mom classifies herself as an Anglican, my dad is agnostic (but doesn't show much interest in religion), my brother is a Gnostic (so I'm not worried about him), and my dog is obviously unable to do anything religious. It struck me a week ago that my dog was half way through his life (most likely), and that my dad is a bit older than his dad when he died (of a heart attack due to high blood pressure, which my dad already has). My dad says he doesn't have time to read or really try to find himself spiritually as he works really hard to maintain our current lifestyle and to keep us from losing our house (which is true). He is honestly very patient, kind, and selfless and I think he would make a great Buddhist. I made him promise me to read the Dalai Lama's book called, "How to See Yourself as You Really Are". I'm not trying to convert him to Buddhism, I only want him to reflect on life and those 'essential questions' (honestly I would be happy if he took an interest in any religion).

So basically I'm asking if it's possible for me to directly influence and better their next birth? Any mantras or prayers? Anything?

:namaste:

/Dylan


"I'm having a great day. May all beings have a great day. I am having a horrible day. May I take on all the suffering of all beings and their horrible day." These kinds of statements enter my mind daily. I don't know when I "accumulate" merit, to be honest. Giving merit reduces pride and increases compassion, among other things. We are training to be bodhisattvas, right? We must give away everything at some point, and ownership (of positive and negative karma) provides us the opportunity of remaining in samsara! Give it away!
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Re: Merit Giving?

Postby Alfredo » Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:30 am

You have been blessed with a tolerant, devoted, hard-working father. I'm sure he'll do fine in the afterlife. But it's good that you appreciate him now, while there's time.
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