Author Topic: Merits and Good Karma!  (Read 12998 times)

yontenjamyang

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Merits and Good Karma!
« on: February 17, 2012, 05:11:30 PM »
The same positive action may generated merit for one person but good karma for another.

Under what conditions are merits and what conditions are good karma generated? What is the difference?


hope rainbow

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2012, 04:24:38 AM »
This is a very important thing to understand.
Read also the following posts on the subject:

http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=988.0

http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=1679.0

A couple things to add for this topic:

"One is to follow His Guru's instruction with faith, for the merit gained comes from that, not from the action itself. Why?"

"What is a merit's field?"

Midakpa

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2012, 02:50:58 PM »
The difference is in the motivation. We collect merits if the action is motivated by bodhicitta.

hope rainbow

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2012, 11:32:00 AM »
The difference is in the motivation. We collect merits if the action is motivated by bodhicitta.

How sure can we be that we are motivated by bodhicitta?
We can't be sure for we operate from a mind polluted with the 8 worldly concerns, self-cherishing and the three poisons.

So in order for us to create merit, we need to tap from a merit's field that is pure, that is free of the 8 worldly concerns, free of self-cherishing and free from the 3 poisons. That is a Buddha's qualities.

How do we do that?
We act within the realm of activity of a Buddha.

How?
Simple: we can do mantras, pujas, prostrations, butter-lamp offerings, etc...  or simply follow the instructions from our Guru if we are fortunate to have one.
In acting within the realm of activity of a Buddha we tap from His pure motivation, and we create merit.

Then the merit will have to be "given away", dedicated, because as much as we are concern we will destroy it with only one moment of anger, with only one polluted thought.
Thus we can't keep it, we give it away!

So how can we enjoy the benefits of having created merits if we gave it away?
Simple, because we dedicated our merit, we will get it back, this is karma.

But then, with a polluted mind, how can our dedication itself not be faulty?
Indeed, it will likely be faulty or lack sincerity, so we dedicate "just as the Buddhas do"?
In this way, our action of dedicating is un-tainted.



negra orquida

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2012, 05:58:34 PM »
Quote
But then, with a polluted mind, how can our dedication itself not be faulty?
Indeed, it will likely be faulty or lack sincerity

It is most probably that our dedication is not as effective as it could be... actually the "merits" we gained may not even be the full merits one could gain from doing a particular meritorious deed, if we had done it out of the 8 worldly concerns.

Was talking with a group of friends about how anger could burn up one's merits collected from a hundred or thousand eons... hence it is very important to dedicate our merits as soon as possible after every "good deed" we done.  I read in the Lamrim that if boddhisatvas get angry at each other, they can also burn up their merits.  one of the questions raised was if the boddhisatvas have been dedicating their merits (let's assume the dedication was done properly, since they are boddhisatvas), how can anger burn up the merits?

Sounds like a silly question, am still looking for an answer to that.

vajratruth

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2012, 08:36:09 PM »
Quote
But then, with a polluted mind, how can our dedication itself not be faulty?
Indeed, it will likely be faulty or lack sincerity

It is most probably that our dedication is not as effective as it could be... actually the "merits" we gained may not even be the full merits one could gain from doing a particular meritorious deed, if we had done it out of the 8 worldly concerns.

Was talking with a group of friends about how anger could burn up one's merits collected from a hundred or thousand eons... hence it is very important to dedicate our merits as soon as possible after every "good deed" we done.  I read in the Lamrim that if boddhisatvas get angry at each other, they can also burn up their merits.  one of the questions raised was if the boddhisatvas have been dedicating their merits (let's assume the dedication was done properly, since they are boddhisatvas), how can anger burn up the merits?

Sounds like a silly question, am still looking for an answer to that.

As I understand it, everything we do generate karma. Things that we do which are not governed by the 8 Worldly Concerns generate Merits. Karma is exhausted once it is expressed or played out. Merits on the other hand, keep going.

Further to that I would think that it not so much the Dedication that generates the "full merits" or otherwise. Instead I would go upstream of the Dedication, go past the action and look at the Motivation as a start.

If the motivation is free of the 8 Worldly Concerns then I can assume to merits to be generated from the action. Dedicating "away" the merits just seals the deal and from thereon the Merits will keep working in our favor. Hence the Lamrim teaches the importance of Setting the Motivation from the start.

As to why we can burn up our Merits, I am not certain but logically we shouldn't be able to use up good merits. I think if we do not keep performing meritorious deeds, perhaps at some point, our negative karma from our selfish actions (which is very natural for us since we are born with the 3 poisons) surpasses our good merits.

As an example, a Merit is like a sum of money we lock away in a fixed deposit (upon dedicating it) that keeps generating interests for us. However, if we keep incurring negative karma i.e keep borrowing money without generating more positive merits, at some point the "sum" of our debts will surpass the fixed deposit plus the interest it generates. At that point, it looks like we have no merits.

Hence, being in Samsara and not being able totally control our thoughts and deeds, we should assume that we are generating bad karma all the time. Therefore, and upon the said assumption it becomes crucial that we keep performing (i) consistent meritorious acts and (ii) consistent purification of our negative karma.

As Rainbow said, working closely with the Guru and executing his instructions well, helps in gaining Merits. This is important because we cannot see our karma balance (i.e. our net balance if you like) but the Guru can and will prescribe the best way for us to gain merits as well as purify our karma at the same time.

hope rainbow

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 05:15:25 PM »
The lamrim is very clear on dedication:

1. what do we dedicate? our merits.
We dedicate our merits, not our good karma, nor our bad karma, for they can't be "given up" and wouldn't help on a spiritual level. The reason we can "give away" our merit, the reason this works is because the action of offering them to others is of the same type as the action by which we have created them.

2. for what reason? so that they do not run out.
And they'll run out at a speed equal to the speed of our deluded mind/speech/body actions arising out of our ignorance, meaning: VERY FAST!

3. to what end? our enlightenment.
So have we really given them away, since the end we want is our enlightenment?

4. for whose sake? all sentient beings.
No, we have not really given them away but we have dedicated them and therefore made all sentient beings a part of a dynamic karmic process by which we get back multiplied merits.
Our enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings = bodhicitta.
Do other beings really benefit from the merit they have received from this dedication? Yes they do, on the basis of the power of that force of dedication and the quality of that special karma that is "MERITS". So this would not work with normal type of karma.

There are actions that multiply merits: dedication and rejoicing.
Both have this in common, they focus outwardly, and the better we are at focusing outwardly, the more powerful the multiplication of root virtues is.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 03:23:01 AM »
Thank you HR for sharing very good explanation . Hope to expand on some of your inputs.

1. You mentioned about root virtues but did not clarify what they are.Anyone ?

2. Although following the instructions of the Guru is the best for accumulating merit compared to doing things ourselves, it has to come from a transformed mind. One may be doing dharma work or a Guru's work but is the dharma in us ? Hence the quote has to be qualified .
 One must follow a Guru's instruction in total - meaning body , speech and mind. If we are just doing it to please our Guru , then the merit derived from just doing the work is abt , say  1/3. If we talk /teach dharma but not by example, then its just speech , again , about 1/3 . etc
True merit can only be derived  by one who has attained the 3 principal aspects of the mahayana path ( renunciation, bodhicitta and correct view of emptiness) and therefore, his thoughts, speech and deeds will be from such pure motivation . The practice of Guru devotion is for us to transform our worldly mind to  our Guru's pure  mind  so that whatever activity we engage in will have merit. However, if we treat devotion as getting into the Guru's good books, then that pure motivation has degenerated and  we will create karma instead. The  extent of power of holy beings we can  tap into, depends on how close our  minds are to theirs.

vajraD

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 04:02:03 PM »
We create karma every single moment; it can be bad it can be good.

As for merits is generated by good motivation and good action.

hope rainbow

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2012, 04:07:25 PM »
Thank you HR for sharing very good explanation . Hope to expand on some of your inputs.

1. You mentioned about root virtues but did not clarify what they are.Anyone ?

Root virtues is just another word for MERITS.
Indeed, it needed to be clarified.
I have also come across english texts in which merits are called POSITIVE FORCES.
They are different names for the same thing.

2. Although following the instructions of the Guru is the best for accumulating merit compared to doing things ourselves, it has to come from a transformed mind.
One may be doing dharma work or a Guru's work but is the dharma in us ? Hence the quote has to be qualified .
One must follow a Guru's instruction in total - meaning body , speech and mind.
If we are just doing it to please our Guru , then the merit derived from just doing the work is abt , say  1/3. If we talk /teach dharma but not by example, then its just speech , again , about 1/3 . etc

True merit can only be derived  by one who has attained the 3 principal aspects of the mahayana path (renunciation, bodhicitta and correct view of emptiness) and therefore, his thoughts, speech and deeds will be from such pure motivation .
The practice of Guru devotion is for us to transform our worldly mind to  our Guru's pure  mind  so that whatever activity we engage in will have merit.
However, if we treat devotion as getting into the Guru's good books, then that pure motivation has degenerated and  we will create karma instead.
The  extent of power of holy beings we can  tap into, depends on how close our  minds are to theirs.

Thank you for your further explanations KG.

Q

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2012, 05:12:50 PM »
The same positive action may generated merit for one person but good karma for another.

Under what conditions are merits and what conditions are good karma generated? What is the difference?

Well, like what you've noticed, merits and good karma are totally different from one another.

The difference?

Simply said, good karma is created in a condition where one does a good deed. What are good deeds? Very simple things like helping an old lady cross the road helps us collect good karma. Collecting or having good karma will allow us to in turn receive the same conditions when the time arises. However, that's as far as it goes, and once we've experienced the good karma, it burns out. So in order to continue experiencing that state we need to continuously collect good karma.

Merits is ofcourse superior. We can collect merits by... say... getting involved in a Dharma centre, making offerings to the Buddhas and our Guru, volunteering, helping to benefit others in every way we can and not just to our convenience. The intensity of collecting merits is vast... as it can only be measured by sincerity.

Having merits is the very root for taking us into the right track in life, ie. we feel strongly towards living our life solely to benefit others and it also shape our decision making in such a way that it brings good to all around us. When one has great merits, all course of action they do is leading to spirituality.

In the Buddhist context, having great merits allows one to meet the Dharma to further enrich their lives... which is why some people, although the Dharma is floating right infront their eyes, they can't see it... too bad it's from the lack of merit to perceive the goodness that Dharma can bring them in this life and all future lives.

That's why it is always important for us to continuously remind ourselves about merits. Although some people find it inauspicious to say 'we're doing it because we want to collect merits'... perhaps because it then becomes less sincere. However, this is one thing we should keep in mind especially when we're lowly or new practitioners haha! Good practitioners don't even have to think about this, their actions is already aligned with the Dharma.

Therefore, having said this, and knowing that merits are very important; it is very essential for us to know in what conditions will cause the destruction of our merits. Although technically merits will not burn out (unlike good karma) it can be destroyed with improper action that is not in accordance to the dharma... one such action is to disparage out kind Guru... this is the highest, biggest.... offence... no matter what lineage or buddhist tradition we come from.

ratanasutra

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2012, 06:56:45 PM »
When we hold vows and we not break it, then the good actions we did we collect merit.
But if we don't hold vows and we do good actions so we only collect good karma.

Example
1) a baby who doesn't kill does not collect merit
2) A man who hold the refuge vows and doesn't kill so the man collect merit.

Vows come from the good motivations in order to become the better and benefit other. so the good actions with good motivation (vows) create a merit.
 

 

Positive Change

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Re: Merits and Good Karma!
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2012, 02:20:46 PM »
I thought I'd revive this topic since there is an active recent topic now on the forum about how dedication can affect beings towards which it is directed and that know nothing about it.

This topic makes me think further about what merits are all about and how merit seem possible only upon the basis of "others", in the full sense "all sentient beings" (thus relying on a merit's field - see posts here above).

So it is in the nature of merit to be dedicated, for they are created on the basis of others, through the blessing of a Buddha mind that only has "others" as a purpose.

In the same logical thinking, the dedication becomes almost like a formality acknowledging the nature of merit as being based on pure, sincere virtuous actions towards others.

then, it is clear, dedicating to others MUST work, for if it does not work, then merit could not even be created in the first place... hehehehe....

Am I confusing myself or am I on to something here? ;)