Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Making Merit

Making merit is about giving, eg, to the wat or to the monks.

Thais make merit more generally by every wholesome action they undertake each day, a very good example, by giving food to monks every morning.

What does the book Buddhism Explained say about Giving?

Why is giving so important? If we are to make any progress along the Buddha’s way, we shall have to reverse our normal worldly ways. Worldliness talks about getting, and the Way talks about giving. So, the objective of giving is to break down, or at least to make a start on the destruction of the prison walls of ‘I have’. Now, giving should be done from the heart, proceeding from a pure faith which holds that the act of giving is meritorious, that the person to whom the giving is directed (often Buddhist monks and nuns) are pure and strive to lead a good life, and that the effect upon the giver is to ensure a happy rebirth, if nothing more. In the practice of giving one should never expect any return, the only return being that one’s own heart then becomes flexible and one’s ways easier to train.
Merit, as explained above, cannot really belong to one. Merit is actually made by giving away one’s merit. This is a way of teaching that one should not even be attached to the results of wholesome conduct but using wholesome conduct, one should push on to Nirvana, beyond both merit and demerit.

So, when a Thai person is having a difficult time, they often resort to making merit in an effort to improve their kamma. They will often describe it in English as trying to change bad luck.
But Thais don’t only tamboon (make merit) when they are having bad luck. Ask a Thai person what he did on his birthday, he is more likely to say that he went to the wat (temple) to make merit.
On the anniversary of the death of a relative or close friend most Thais will go to the wat to make merit on that person’s behalf.

I have decided that I shall go to Golden Mile to get the set of offering, usually a yellow pail with lots of daily nesscessity for Monks on my Birthday.

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