It is a beneficial and protective force which accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts, or thoughts. Merit-making is important to Buddhist practice: merit brings good and agreeable results, determines the quality of the next life and contributes to a person’s growth towards enlightenment. In addition, merit is also shared with a deceased loved one, in a manual of buddhism pdf to help the deceased in their new existence. Despite modernization, merit-making remains essential in traditional Buddhist countries, and has had a significant impact on the rural economies in these countries.
Merit is connected with the notions of purity and goodness. Before Buddhism, merit was used with regard to ancestor worship, but in Buddhism it gained a more general ethical meaning. Moreover, it affects the next lives to come, as well as the destination a person is reborn.
Indeed, merit has even been connected to the path to Nirvana itself, but many scholars say that this refers only to some types of merit. Merit can be gained in a number of ways, such as giving, virtue and mental development. In addition, there are many forms of merit-making described in ancient Buddhist texts.
In Buddhist societies, a great variety of practices involving merit-making has grown throughout the centuries, sometimes involving great self-sacrifice. Merit has become part of rituals, daily and weekly practice, and festivals. In addition, there is a widespread custom of transferring merit to one’s deceased relatives, of which the origin is still a matter of scholarly debate. Merit has been that important in Buddhist societies, that kingship was often legitimated through it, and still is.
In modern society, merit-making has been criticized as materialist, but merit-making is still ubiquitous in many societies. Examples of the impact of beliefs about merit-making can be seen in the Phu Mi Bun rebellions which took place in the last centuries, as well as in the revival of certain forms of merit-making, such as the much discussed merit release. Puñña literally translates as ‘merit, meritorious action, virtue’.
It is glossed by the Theravāda Commentator Dhammapāla as “santanaṃ punāti visodheti”, meaning ‘it cleans or purifies the life-continuity’. The term merit, originally a Judeo-Christian term, has in the latter part of the twentieth century gradually been used as a translation of the Buddhist term puṇya or puñña. The Buddhist term has, however, more of an impermanent character than the English translation implies, and the Buddhist term does not imply a sense of deserving.
Later, in the period of the Upanishads, a concept of rebirth was established and it was believed that life in heaven was determined by the merit accumulated in previous lives, but the focus on the pitṛ did not really change. In Buddhism, the idea of an eternal heaven was rejected, but it was believed that merit could help achieve a rebirth in a temporary heaven.
Merit was no longer merely a product of ritual, but was invested with an ethical meaning and role. Merit is generally considered fundamental to Buddhist ethics, in nearly all Buddhist traditions. Merit-making is very important to Buddhist practice in Buddhist societies.
Merit, demerit and its retributions at the level of the individual. Theravada Buddhism, as practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. In traditional Buddhist societies, it is believed that merit is more sustainable than that of magical rites, spirit worship or worldly power. The way merit works, is that acts of merit bring good and agreeable results, whereas demeritorious acts bring bad and disagreeable results.
A mixture of the two generates mixed results in a person’s life. Buddhist texts and Buddhist societies, and explains why people are different and lead different lives in many ways. Karma is self-regulatory and natural: it operates without divine intervention and human intention is fundamental to it.
Internally, merit makes the mind happy and virtuous. Externally, present good circumstances, such as a long life, health and wealth, as well as the character and abilities someone is born with, arise from merits done in the past and vice versa, with demerits. The merits and demerits a person has done may take a while to bear fruit.