Author Topic: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?  (Read 8234 times)

KhedrubGyatso

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Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« on: April 09, 2012, 02:55:46 PM »
I have been asked this question in one of my dharma classes  whether making merit which in the end will bring benefits to oneself is something that is done out of self-interested motifs or not. For example, one wishes to become a Buddha as a result of making the merit; is this actually a pure motivation as one wishes ultimately to gain something for oneself?

Midakpa

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2012, 01:07:32 PM »
According to H.H. the Dalai Lama, there are two types of desire: positive desire and negative desire. Wanting to be a Buddha for the sake of others is positive desire. In order to become a Bodhisattva, one needs a lot of merits. A great master once said that to be a Bodhisattva, one needs merits as vast as space! So it's not easy at all. When we make merits we can dedicate them to our future enlightenment so they won't be lost. It looks like we are doing it out of self-interest as KhedrubGyatso says, but those who know dharma are aware that in the final analysis, there is no self-interest involved. Ultimately, it is the deep compassion one feels for others that is the main motivating factor. The vows that Bodhisattvas make are all in the interest of others.

Q

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2012, 06:10:08 PM »
I have been asked this question in one of my dharma classes  whether making merit which in the end will bring benefits to oneself is something that is done out of self-interested motifs or not. For example, one wishes to become a Buddha as a result of making the merit; is this actually a pure motivation as one wishes ultimately to gain something for oneself?

Hmm... if one practices the 8 verses of mind transformation, then he/she will see the kindness of all sentient beings and generate the motivation to reach enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. Because it is only through them that we are able to practice the Dharma, and to achieve the qualities of a Buddha. So thinking of them this way, we realize how important these beings are to us and thus develop a sense of compassion towards them, to free them off the chains of samsara... If one cannot think of such, then they are no where close to a Bodhisattva.

Besides, the merits generated with a motivation purely for self... is just too small... and the fact that the thought of 'self' is there, is not going to help because as long as we think about the 'I', there can never be pure motivation that is free of the 8 worldly concerns.

Tenzin K

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2012, 04:22:35 PM »
I believe the pure motivation come into consideration. If a person wishes to become a Buddha, the motivation to become a Buddha definitely to benefits others else how can one achieve Buddhahood.

Merits gain from this taught and action does look like for the individual but in a bigger scale looking at this scenario it definitely  for a bigger reasoning which becoming a Buddha to liberate more people. 

If making merits to benefit just oneself, it sounds like selfish motive how can one gain merits?

thor

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2012, 05:38:29 PM »
I agree with Tenzin completely. The most important thing that determines if one gains merits or not is motivation. Therefore we are taught to make the motivation to benefit others in order to gain merits. Therefore if our motivation to become a Buddha is to benefit others then it certainly is not a selfish action.

On the other hand, what if our motivation is not to benefit others but to gain glory and recognition for oneself, then the goal is worthy but the motivation is not. Therefore not only does one not gain merits, but one is also selfish for wanting to become a Buddha. Ironic that the goal can be correct yet the incorrect motivation destroys everything. Hope that helps.

RedLantern

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2012, 03:23:00 PM »
Those who believe and understand the dharma will want to gain a better rebirth,therefore will want to accumlulate merits."Buying" good karma is not possible by donating to a sangha if that is the intention.It is about the motivation for the action.The object of the action,the action itself and the result of the action.This is similar to charity being given to satisfy the ego of the giver.
The ultimate act of compassion and charity is to donate to those whom one feels no connection and no affinity.Helping someone we dislike (although we shouldn't dislike anyone) gain far more merit.

vajratruth

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2012, 06:21:16 PM »
It is a mistake to think that by dedicating merits to others we may lose the benefit of the merit gained. When we dedicate merits to all sentient beings, of course individuals such as ourselves benefit too as we are also one of the sentient beings.

Dedicating merits to others in no way "dilutes" the power of the merits and in fact it may even be said that the dedication of merits firstly, to all sentient beings generates superior effects. I would say that the genuine dedication of merits to others (all sentient beings) is the beginning of the understanding of compassion and selflessness.

It is only via our still self grasping mind that we can even imagine that a merit generated is like any other commodity in the samsaric world. That we need to horde it away and keep it for ourselves.


kris

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2012, 10:43:23 PM »
From what I understand, we can only collect merit from the merit field (such as from temple, carry out assignments by qualified Lamas, etc), and with correct motivation, i.e. towards Buddhahood, which is ALWAYS for the benefit of others. If we have motivation to become Buddha, which is always for the benefit of others, how can that be selfish?

So if we build temples but our motivation is to have more wealth for our family enjoyment, technically, we do not collect any merits, though we would collect good karma.

So, technically, you cannot collect merits and be selfish at the same time :)

vajraD

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2012, 12:25:41 AM »
Yes and no…

Most of us are scared of death one way or another. By realizing the dharma or understanding the dharma most people will prepare themselves to gain merits to save oneself and their love one first. So this is already a selfish action. But alto the action are selfish it was done in a positive way as serving the dharma and the Lama it really does benefits a lot of other people. Is like a copy cat system where the Lama teaches the student then the student start to teach another student what they are doing and it continues so that one day not a single soul are left in samsara.  So in terms of this, it is not a selfish action.

yontenjamyang

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2012, 05:19:56 AM »
By definition, one can only generate true merit if one is doing the work in relation and by being motivated by great compassion/boddhicitta. As most of us are not so pure in our motivations, we technically cannot generate true merits. What we can generate is only good karma. We can only generate merits through the power of Guru Devotion by doing the work of the Guru. Because the Guru has great compassion; all his work and hence, our work is selfless.

Hence, we can say making merits to benefit oneself is NOT a selfish action. On the other hand, selfish action can only make good karma.

vajrastorm

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2012, 09:17:13 AM »
I think whether making merit to benefit oneself is or isn't a selfish action depends on the altruism of one's primary motivation. Even wishing to become a Buddha to benefit others is a motivation that has to be examined and reflected on.Is the aspiration that of wishing to be a Buddha the primary aspiration/motivation or is the primary aspiration that of wishing to liberate all beings from suffering? And seeing then that one needs to become fully enlightened and attain full Buddhahood in order to be able to liberate all beings from suffering? Again, is the aspiration to be a Buddha tinged with a contaminated feeling of pride and ego?

 

kurava

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 01:13:18 AM »
Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action ?

Definitely NO.

True merits are generated only if the deeds are motivated by the mind of renunciation.

Objects that is forsaken by the mind of renunciation is samsara. Samsara does not exist outside ourselves. Samsara is the uncontrolled rebirth caused by actions of negative body, speech and mind arise from selfishness .

If one's wish is to generate merits with a mind of renunciation and the pure motive to ultimately benefits others, this action is noble and certainly not a selfish one.

pgdharma

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 03:09:00 PM »
I don't think making merit to benefit oneself is a selfish action if our motivation is pure. In order for us to reach Buddhahood, we need tremendous merits for ourselves and it may take eons and many lifetimes to accumulate these merits. When we reach Buddhahood, we will be able to help and bring benefits to others; to liberate all beings from sufferings. Thus it is in fact a very noble action. We have to help our self before we can help others.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2012, 06:11:07 AM »
If your motivation is pure in your wish to attain Buddhahood so that you may be beneficial to others, then to benefit oneself is not selfish; you benefit yourself to benefit others in the end.  It goes around.

However if your wish is to benefit yourself for yourself only, then it is selfish as no other beings get the benefit.

Positive Change

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2012, 07:25:03 AM »
As some of you mentioned here.... it is indeed always the motivation behind our actions. If we are "selfish" for making merits in order to gain boddhichita and benefit others why not? The eventual motivation is pure and selfless regardless of how the perception of "wanting" it may seem...

Hence it is always important to check our motivation when it comes to the things that drive us, what we want to achieve and how we achieve it!