Author Topic: Do we lose merits by dedicating?  (Read 12529 times)

KhedrubGyatso

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 185
    • Email
Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« on: April 09, 2012, 03:10:15 PM »
Do we lose merits by dedicating?
I have heard this from someone: "If the merits of one's practices are
to be dedicated to all beings, would that not become the case of too little food for too large a crowd? Wouldn't it make more sense to just reserve the merits for one's own benefits or dedicate them to only a few people lest the efforts become ineffectual.
Furthermore, one could help only so many but not all, hence one should be sensible/practical in this matter." There are also those who adviced against praying for or dedicate merits to others. The reason given being that, most people are spiritual novices and hence have insufficient spiritual strength / incapable of helping others.

I personally don't buy the above reasonings but would like to know your thoughts on above, whether it is in agreement or not or partially.


Q

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 04:59:25 PM »
Nice question. I too used to wonder why do we dedicate whatever merits collected to all sentient beings.

I may not have the right answer to this, as I too am a mere novice when it comes to Dharma knowledge! But I did sit down and think about it, asked people about it... and eventually, I thought I may have some opinion regarding this question.

First of all, we all know the reason for dedicating merits. Merits will burn out only when what we dedicated it for materializes... so if for example, I dedicate my merits to something mundane like winning a lottery ticket, then when I do win it, the merits is exhausted. For this very reason, we dedicate the merits to the highest goal. When we do so, we not only don't exhaust out merits, but we experience good things along the way.

Also, another thing that I thought is... when we dedicate it to all sentient beings, we're technically generating a Bodhichitta motivation to benefit others, so the merits is actually much bigger...

Midakpa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2012, 02:59:23 PM »
If we do not dedicate our merits, we will certainly lose them. It is said in the "Bodhicaryavatara" that if you do not dedicate (virtue), it could be destroyed when you get angry. Chandrakirti, in "Engaging in the Middle Way" says that we destroy one hundred eons' worth of virtues if we get angry at Bodhisattvas (eg. our gurus).

Dedication is the last of the seven limbs in the Seven-Limbed Prayer.  H.H. Pabongka Rinpoche in "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand", makes 6 points: (1) What is being dedicated? Your root virtues (merits). (2) Why do you dedicate them? So that they will not run out. (3) To what end do you dedicate them? To your supreme enlightenment. (4) For whose sake do you dedicate them? For the sake of all sentient beings. (5) How do you dedicate them? Through method and right perception. (6) What is the nature of the dedication? Do it in conjunction with the wish that your root virtues may not disappear.

Dedicating our merits to our future enlightenment is regarded as the best kind of dedication. This sounds quite selfish on the surface. But it is not selfish because it is for the sake of all sentient beings.  So, in fact, we are dedicating our merits to the supreme enlightenment so that we can benefit others.

A dedication is like a prayer. It has great power. If we continue to do meritorious work out of compassion for others and we dedicate our merits to all sentient beings, we create even more merits for ourselves. This way, our merits will never dry up. 

negra orquida

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 205
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2012, 05:33:39 PM »
I think that if we are worrying about what happens to us when we are dedicating our merits, whatever that we are / have been dedicating is not even merit anymore.

Quote
so if for example, I dedicate my merits to something mundane like winning a lottery ticket, then when I do win it, the merits is exhausted.

Similarly, if we are even thinking of dedicating our "merits" towards a worldly, this-life-only cause, I don't think we ever had the right mind or motivation to do any truly pure and virtuous deed to create true merits which could be dedicated away properly in the first place.  So whatever that is exhausted in the example above is good karma, not merits.

When we have the right mind and motivation to create true merits, there won't be any doubts about the purpose and power of dedication (it was after all taught by the Buddha and all the High Lamas.. why would they ask us to do something which leaves us with "nothing" or to our detriment?).  It is important to understand what true merit is and how it differs from good karma, so we can work towards gaining merits and not just good karma. This "merit vs good karma" topic continues to be discussed in another thread http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=1741.0

Jessie Fong

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 690
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2012, 12:14:19 PM »
Quote :  "If the merits of one's practices are to be dedicated to all beings, would that not become the case of too little food for too large a crowd?



When we dedicate simply " .... may my merits be dedicated to all beings ... " would that not include our own selves? So if it is to benefit others, then we should not question who the merits are being dedicated to.  It is not as if you would need to quantify your merits that have been dedicated to some one else.

Positive Change

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1008
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 02:02:53 PM »
Well... I think very simply, if we "give" or in this case, dedicate we do not think of what we "lose" but what we gain instead. Do we tell ourselves... oh dear, I will lose this, that or the other when we buy a birthday gift for a friend or loved one? I don't suppose so... because we genuinely want the person to be happy to receive something. I believe personally it is true with merits too. We give because we want to benefit and make that person happy.

The best part about dedication is one remains anonymous which I think is brilliant! Would it not be great to give to someone and not expect anything back? Just the joy on their faces would put a smile on my face.

Hence to sum up, in dedicating we DO NOT lose anything. Why do we want to accumulate merit anyway? To hoard it for ourselves? Truly that is not the ultimate goal of merits and attainments. Points to ponder on I guess. Am not smart by any means but I do know that when I give, I am at my happiest!

RedLantern

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 758
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 04:37:23 PM »
By dedicating our merits for all beings, even though we will experience positive results and well being from that merit,it will not be used up until the ultimate aim of our dedication,which is supreme enlightenment for all beings is achieved. Thus dedicating our merits is like adding a drop of water to an ocean,just as the ocean never dries up,that drop of water is never exhausted.
We could spoil our merits on one moment of anger,that's the reason we dedicate our merit.Furthermore if we dedicate our merits ,the merits increases everyday so that the fruiton of the virtue can be greater than the initial merit. One can also offer the merit to one's own kind Guru as an offering of practice.This will further enhanced and make one's practice even more meaningful.

ratanasutra

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 345
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2012, 12:26:57 AM »
If we lose merits by dedicating then high lamas, monks and high practitionals won't achieve or gain enlightenment as they hold vows and do virtue actions plus bodhicitta motivation therefore they have collect such huge merit and they did the dedication to all beings daily.

The essence of Dharma practice is the path for one to develope bodhicitta mind. By dedication the merit is one of the way for us to generate bodhicitta mind, what's the meaning for us to do lot of virtue things and at the end of the day we just want to keep the merits for ourself. Is it create more selfishness? We suppose to be selflessness and think about other more than ourself when we engage more in spiritual path so it so contradict and how can we going to achieve the bodhicitta mindd.

Tammy

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 319
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2012, 03:11:00 AM »
This question is not very 'Budhdhist' !!

Let's go back to the very basic foundamantel of Buddha's teaching - to gain enlightened in order to benefit others!
As a true pratitioner, we should always have this movitation in mind - if our movitation is to benefit others, we should not be worried whether we would loose merit by dedicating to others at the end of our prayers. I may be very direct in pointing this out, but isnt this true ?

Sigh, if we ever ask ourselves this question, this mean we are NOT seeking enlightenment for seek of helping others - whenever question of this sort arises in our mind, we need to be alert and mindful to get rid of it immediately.

Down with the BAN!!!

ilikeshugden

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 181
    • Email
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2012, 07:49:35 AM »
I think that by dedicating our merits to other sentient beings we are not losing any merit at all. Why? Because I always believed that merits dedicated are impossible to lose unless merit had already done its job by bringing the Dharma to the person who received the merits. Also, the bodhicitta that arises when dedicating merits to all sentient beings, creates more merit for the dedicator. Also, in a sneaky fashion, the dedicator is also part of the "all sentient beings" so I suppose that they would also receive the merit. I personally believe that merit does not split. I believe it multiplies. I am not sure whether my thoughts are correct but I would really appreciate it if someone on this forum has the same view and can share more or if they have a different view can show their points and we can have a friendly debate.

Klein

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 502
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2012, 08:43:55 AM »
If we do not dedicate our merits, we will certainly lose them. It is said in the "Bodhicaryavatara" that if you do not dedicate (virtue), it could be destroyed when you get angry. Chandrakirti, in "Engaging in the Middle Way" says that we destroy one hundred eons' worth of virtues if we get angry at Bodhisattvas (eg. our gurus).

Dedication is the last of the seven limbs in the Seven-Limbed Prayer.  H.H. Pabongka Rinpoche in "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand", makes 6 points: (1) What is being dedicated? Your root virtues (merits). (2) Why do you dedicate them? So that they will not run out. (3) To what end do you dedicate them? To your supreme enlightenment. (4) For whose sake do you dedicate them? For the sake of all sentient beings. (5) How do you dedicate them? Through method and right perception. (6) What is the nature of the dedication? Do it in conjunction with the wish that your root virtues may not disappear.

Dedicating our merits to our future enlightenment is regarded as the best kind of dedication. This sounds quite selfish on the surface. But it is not selfish because it is for the sake of all sentient beings.  So, in fact, we are dedicating our merits to the supreme enlightenment so that we can benefit others.

A dedication is like a prayer. It has great power. If we continue to do meritorious work out of compassion for others and we dedicate our merits to all sentient beings, we create even more merits for ourselves. This way, our merits will never dry up.

Dear Midakpa,

I agree with what you wrote. In a nutshell, we don't lose merits when dedicating to others.

Merits are generated through actions from selfless motivations. In order to keep the merits, a dedication is needed. The ultimate dedication would be that of a selfless nature. Hence, we dedicate our merits to all sentient beings and so on. This continued act of selflessness again generates more merits.

The key here is to be selfless. It will not happen overnight that every thought that arises from our mind is from selflessness. However, through consistent practice, we will gain that kind of mind, also known as bodhicitta.

jeremyg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 112
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2012, 09:37:26 AM »
Wouldn't the act of dedicating create more merits? I say this only because the act of dedicating is an unselfish act to help others, so it makes sense to me. However I don't know for sure. From this I can gather that we do not lose merits in the act of dedication. In fact dedication should boost our merits and practice, and this is why we should be encouraged to dedicate merits.

buddhalovely

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 341
    • Email
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2012, 09:02:22 AM »
There are many ways to accumulate merit. One way is through mantra recitation. Other ways include, releasing lives of animals captive and destined for slaughter / death. Eg. rescuing insects drowning in water is also considered releasing lives. Offering lights/lamps, reciting sutras, doing prostrations, circumambulations, printing sutras, creating buddha images (whether statue or posters etc) , making tsa-tsas, giving food, clothings, necessities to the poor, helping those who are sick, giving medicine, giving alms to the ordained, monks, nuns etc, offering to the Triple Gems (eg, flowers, water, food, incense etc), clearing roads, building bridges, developing patience, loving-kindness and compassion, practising filial piety, teaching the dharma, helping others on the path to liberation, rejoicing in others' merits, keeping vows, taking one-day fasting precepts, doing service for your teacher, temple, sangha...

In general, one should help sentient beings in any way, that will generate merit. But help with wisdom and not with attachment. Also help given should not damage oneself irreparably. The first five of the six paramitas of the bodhisattva path are all about creating merit. Eg, The first of the paramitas is generosity. Amongst generosity, there are 3 types of generosity: giving material needs, giving fearlessness (eg in life release, one is removing fear from the animals about losing their lives) and giving dharma. They are increasingly meritorious because of the increase in benefit to beings both in terms of time and extent of benefit.

If the need is greater, then the benefit is greater and thus the merit is also greater. For eg, giving to disaster relief, people in starvation is much better than feeding a rich man although both are giving and will generate merits.

Merit is dedicated generally to all sentient beings so that they will attain Buddhahood. When we dedicate merit, it is to put the merit to work to the highest purpose of all, so that we don't waste the merit. As long as the purpose is not fulfilled, merit will remain and continue to increase towards that. And also because this merit is locked in an aspiration for all beings to attain the highest perfected state, it will never diminish, just as a drop of water (your drop of merit) is merged into an ocean (all sentient beings' merit) can never dry up completely.

sonamdhargey

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 406
Re: Do we lose merits by dedicating?
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2012, 09:51:57 AM »
Dedicating merits is one way to generate the act generosity and sleflessness and that act itself is meritorious. Therefore dedication of merits cannot mean losing your merits when u dedicate them nor we do we do not have enough merits to distribute to all. Merits are pervasive big or small. Size does not matter but the motivation does.

To have the thoughts of not having enough merits to go around is like saying I've not done enough good deeds to accumulate more merits through benefiting others or from a virtuous act. If that is the case what is enough merits to go around? It does not make sense at all.