Author Topic: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?  (Read 8236 times)

Barzin

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2012, 10:12:34 AM »
Yes I agree.  It all boils down to our motivation.  If our motivation is to acquire more merits for our dharma practice (which we need a lot) in order to gain wisdom, realizations and eventually attainments so we can benefit many.  I think this selfish reason is valid.  There are of course some who have the wisdom of buddhadharma but do not do anything for the sentient beings...  But with the attainments and wisdom, i am sure there will come a time the karma triggers and they will do something remarkable?  I don't know if it's how it works...

For example, I remembered once I had a discussion with some practitioners.  Some asked, what is the point for releasing fishes and birds knowing that they will get caught again and be sold or slaughter.  Then someone answered:  yes, we might not save a lot but it to create the causes to inspire people to follow the act.  If many decide it is a good act to do, more will be save eventually. 

Then the other asked, then what about someone like His Holiness?  Wouldn't he be very busy all day running around to save sentient beings?  One answered, if he could he would, but he gave dharma teachings, because dharma wisdom is the source for people to have realization and mind transformation, it is more powerful than virtuous act.  With wisdom, only you can help people.

So I thought wow, it made sense...  No matter how we must save our self only we can reach out to people.  Hence, we must first improve on ourself and along the way train our mind and actions to be virtuous, gain merits so eventually we will have more to help people.

Reena Searl

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2012, 06:45:35 PM »
Truly base on motivation and making merit is to prepare one’s mind and thoughts.The mind has to be purified and ready. Gaining merit, however, must not bring any trouble or worry to oneself or others.
therefor in order to gain merit definitely not to benefit oneself a selfish action.
     
If making merits are perfectly met with good motivation, it represents a great merit making. But most of people see that making merit is to give alms. That is partly true because it is the first step of a fully-gained merit.

Tammy

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2012, 02:05:49 AM »
With the little dharma know that I have, I don't think anyone could be a Buddha without the motivation of benefitting other sentient beings. Without the movitation of benefitting other sentient beings, compasision, hence Bodhicitta would not arise. Without Bodhicitta, enlightenment would not be possible.

It is a long route to enlightenment, we must have the right motivation and our mind must be transformed, shaking away negative habituation and bad karma accumulated from beginning less time. This is not easy, given that almost everyone around us are raised the 'wrong' way, where we are expected to go through life the 'normal way', go to school, get a good job, get married, have family, enjoy our golden years and die! Just another lifetime wasted.

I wish we could not only change our mindset but also change the perception, so more and more people would embark in spiritual path and get ourselves out of samsara.
Down with the BAN!!!

brian

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2012, 02:25:37 AM »
Yes, we all come to a conclusion that it is the motivation which will determine the generation of merits or good karma. So its either for all sentient being (highest level?) Or for one's parents (lowest level of motivatio)n. Will the amount of merits be still the same? Just aking.

The way I look at it, it should not be the same simply because one is to benefit so so many compared to the latter. I could be wrong, maybe some of you guys can explain to me and help me with the more understanding of generating merits. Sometimes I do feel its a little selfish to generate for oneself but then again, you gotto be good yourself before you can actually take care of others.

Manjushri

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2012, 10:01:17 AM »
First of all, I think we should ask ourselves why do we need merit? Having the merits would allow one to progress on their spiritual journey. Having the merits would allow one to gain attainments and realizations, Having the merits would allow one to understand the Dharma better.

So, I feel that initially, making merit to benefit onself is understandable - Better to make merit than none at all! It may be selfish, but as you go along the way, and you learn more, understand more and gain realizations, then the motivation changes progressively.

Take for example if one works in an organisation to spread the Dharma. What does it take for you to stay in the organisation? Merits. So you are making merit to benefit yourself so that you can stay in the organisation longer - and that's what you think; that it's for yourself. But what you may not realise is that by staying in the organisation, you may be able to spread the Dharma and benefit so many others. So from an initial selfish thought, you indirectly benefit so much more, and create more merits without realising it. So is that a selfish action?

However I do agree that the motivation is of utmost importance, but seriously, how and who are we to be able to operate out of pure motivations for others. I guess we are all far from it, so the first step - making merit to benefit oneself, is a good ground to start I feel.

diamond girl

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2012, 03:43:30 PM »
Like many of you, I agree that motivation is important. In Buddhism, collecting merits is a foundation. I have once heard that we need to have the merits to even gain knowledge for wisdom... From this I can only conclude that we need to collect merits to gain virtue. And being so will then be able to share and benefit others.

Like I always say, knowledge is key to understanding why we do what we do... Blind faith does not stay and can waiver. I found this link on merits which I hope will provide you with more information:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/merit.html
Merit : A Study Guide by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


biggyboy

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2012, 04:19:30 PM »
It is wrong to view that doing actions to collect merit for oneself is selfish.  If one does it with a Bodhicitta motivation the merits collected will propels us toward Buddhahood.  Isn't it meritorious when one gain Buddhahood allow us to guide and help others skillfully to Enlightenment?  Collecting such kind of merits is not for ourselves but is for others.  When one sees sufferings, one should endure it and to find many ways to help and release others from sufferings and hardships.

Hence, one should learn and improve on dharma knowledge to gain understanding to transform oneselves for collection of merits go hand in hand.  Hence, having attending teachings and only understanding it intellectually without putting into practice is just like one not taking the medicine when one is sick...so how to heal one's mind to help and benefit others?  Then this I would consider is selfish not wanting to help and benefit others.

 

Aurore

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2012, 05:18:29 PM »
It's a yes and no. No because you can't make merits if it's for selfish reasons to benefit oneself. Merits are only gained from pure motivation to benefit others. One can have the desire to gain merits so that one can become a Buddha which indirectly benefits oneself as Buddhahood frees us from samsara. However, it can only be possible to reach Buddhahood if one aspire to gain Enlightenment so that one can free others as not just for oneself.

Yes, because to gain Boddhicitta is not something one can achieve overnight. One's motivation are usually not pure. One will want to gain merits for one's own selfish benefits. This is so because to be born human is due to the selfish mind. However, this doesn't mean Boddhicitta cannot be developed. One can focus on developing Boddhicitta through methods given by the Buddha such as dharma practice, meditation, contemplation and studies. Reading, studying dharma, attending dharma talks, making offerings to the 3 jewels, listening to guru's advice are some methods one can generate merits to lessen one's selfishness. Doing purification practices will also reduce one's negativities and turn it into positive.

Over time, the "selfish" intention of making merits can turn into a selfless one.

dondrup

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2012, 06:48:21 PM »
The motivation to become a Buddha for the benefit of others will bring tremendous amount of merits for oneself if one truly engages in the path to Enlightenment.  The motivation is for others. Hence it is not a selfish act even though the ultimate result (i.e. Buddhahood) will benefit oneself.

For a new practitioner, the bodhichitta motivation is contrived or artificial.  Practitioners tend to do it for the sake of one’s selfish gain initially. But as their practice becomes purer and purer, the bodhichitta motivation becomes spontaneous and real. The bodhichitta motivation will develop further until finally the selfish mind is totally eliminated.

DS Star

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2012, 12:01:05 AM »
The motivation to become a Buddha for the benefit of others will bring tremendous amount of merits for oneself if one truly engages in the path to Enlightenment.  The motivation is for others. Hence it is not a selfish act even though the ultimate result (i.e. Buddhahood) will benefit oneself.

For a new practitioner, the bodhichitta motivation is contrived or artificial.  Practitioners tend to do it for the sake of one’s selfish gain initially. But as their practice becomes purer and purer, the bodhichitta motivation becomes spontaneous and real. The bodhichitta motivation will develop further until finally the selfish mind is totally eliminated.

well-said dondrup, I totally agreed.

Even the motivation is to gain merits for oneself but if this motivation is derived from the ultimate motivation to become a Buddha as a mean to save other sentient beings then it is not a selfish act.

We need merits, lots and lots of merits, to be able to purify our negative obstacles to understand Dharma, to gain enlightenment as Buddha. So if we desperately want the merits to be Buddha for the sake of others, we are definitely not selfish  ;)

bambi

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2012, 03:36:02 AM »
I would say that it is not a selfish action as we definitely have to practice Bodhicitta in order to benefit more and not just ourself. With the motivation of Bodhicitta and towards Buddhahood that we can help other sentient beings to Enlightenment. How wonderful!

I found a teaching here which gives a short explanation.
http://www.fpmt.org/teachings/lama-thubten-yeshe/875-bodhicitta-the-perfection-of-dharma.html

Also, without bodhicitta it is very difficult to collect merits. You create them and immediately destroy them; by afternoon, the morning's merits have gone. It's like cleaning a room and an hour later making it dirty again. You make your mind clean, then right away you mess it up - not a very profitable business. If you want to succeed in the business of collecting merits, you must have bodhicitta. With bodhicitta you become so precious – like gold, like diamonds; you become the most perfect object in the world, beyond compare with any material things.

From the Western, materialistic point of view, we'd think it was great if a rich person said,'I want to make charity. I'm going to offer $100 to everybody in the entire world.' Even if that person gave with great sincerity, his or her merit would be nothing compared with just the thought,'I wish to actualize bodhicitta for the sake of sentient beings, and I'll practice the six paramitas as much as I can. That's why I always say, actualization of bodhicitta is the most perfect path you can take.

Big Uncle

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2012, 07:00:02 AM »
In my opinion, all of our motivations would be selfish to varying degrees. If our motivation is selfless, then we would already be on the path of the Bodhisattvas already. With regards to the statement, I find the statement to be on the lowest scope of the Lamrim and that is to achieve liberation for oneself first and hence, it is still a valid path of practice.

However, cultivating such thoughts for oneself will make it harder to graduate up the path of the Mahayana where one is trained to think wider and bigger. Hence, we dedicate all virtuous actions for all beings, although it is superficial at this level but it will at least train our minds to think wider and plant the seeds to actually benefit others in the future.

kurava

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2012, 02:55:44 AM »
True merits arise only from the mind of renunciation. If one has already developed this mind, then all actions of body ,sppech and mind of this person will be free from self interest or selfish motivation.

With a mind of renunciation, one wishes to accumulate vast merits to support the attainment of full enlightenment so that one is perfectly poised to benefit others - where can you find any trace of selfishness there ?

This is like a student who works very hard to get good results in order to be awarded scholarship to study medicine so that he is qualified to take care of sick people when he graduates as a full fledged doctor.

Yes, every action depends on the person's motivation. Therefore having a pure motivation is very important if we want to generate merits.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2012, 03:57:38 AM »

Merit is often likened to be the spiritual dollar or fertiliser which supports our journey to Buddhahood. Unlike $$$, we are collecting merits not for ourselves but for others.  Practicing to become a Buddha is the highest fulfilment of this wish. Those who realize that will passionately  engage in the collection of merits for the sake of others. The main cause of Buddhahood is to cultivate the bodhicitta mind . This is a mind powered by compassion .  The more suffering there is ,  the stronger will be the practitioners' motivation to collect vast merits and wisdom  so that he/she will be able to help the sufferers to be free from all types of suffering and its causes.



buddhalovely

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Re: Is making merit to benefit oneself a selfish action?
« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2012, 01:35:33 PM »
One of the most common moral principles taken for granted to be true, without questioning its validity and consequences, is the principle that selfishness is evil. No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, it is always our thoughts and our feelings that are brought into question, but never the principle itself. To question the principle is akin to blasphemy.

But just as it was once blasphemous to state that the earth is round, the virtue of selfishness is a fact we must come to accept at one point or another. In other words, those who are still insisting that selflessness is a virtue might as well believe that the earth is flat.

 I would like to clear up the confusion surrounding selfishness, and to highlight the fact that not only does the problem with selfishness have nothing to do with selfishness itself, but that selfishness is a necessary quality for personal growth and the foundation for human happiness.