Friday, February 20, 2009
It is amazing but true that making offerings to statues of the Buddha can bring inconceivable merit: It has the power to cause rebirth in the human world. That may not seem "inconceivable" until one reflects on how rare and precious a human rebirth is. Understanding the potential value in it, and what is possible here (full liberation), it is rightly called an inconceivable or "infinite" accumulation of merit.
WQ editors are acquainted with numerous nuns living in Burma who, through meditation, had independently remembered one another as being acquainted in former lives. In addition, to remembering one another, they had independently investigated what karma (merit) brought them to a human rebirth. It was found that having performed a meritorious deed together had led to rebirth together. That is to say, having done good in the past, they met again in the present. Frequently, that "good" performed in the past had been the offering (of flowers, candles, incense, or simply appreciation) in front of a Buddha image or stupa (reliquary). This had had the power of leading back to this world.
Such tales should be dismissed out of hand...if they were not so common and independently arrived at by advanced meditators. The "field of merit" provided by the Buddha and the noble community of practitioners (ariya sangha) is indeed a vast and imponderable resource, so much so that even remembering it (devotional recollection) is powerful in and of itself.