|Big golden Buddha, Bagan, Burma (RobertoCornacchia.com/bosforo65/flickr.com)|
|What are the habits of happy people? (viralnovelty.net) Having made merit in the past.|
This is perhaps because the pursuit of merit seems to be a lowly "selfish" practice, focused on getting and hoarding, whereas in higher Buddhist practice the focus is on letting go, particularly of any deluded sense of permanent or separate "self."
- [All things, including our "selves," are dependently arisen. They are therefore not separate from their constituent elements, their building blocks. But liberating-insight requires that the undeluded mind realize that "self" is not those building blocks either. There is no breakthrough to the first stage of enlightenment, as the Heart Sutra explains, until not-self is directly realized.]
But the Buddha did not teach in such a way. The Dharma (path to liberation) and practice he gave was a "gradual teaching."
|"Meditation" starts at absorption.|
Nowhere to be found. We need virtue and serenity (sila and samadhi) first. These manifest as firm precepts and meditative absorptions (jhanas, concentration, stability, increasingly coherent states of mind).
until one has developed a wise sense of self.
The pursuit of merit is the Buddhist way
to develop a wise sense of self.
|Buddhas in a factory and curio shop, Cambodia (Peter Denton/flickr.com)|
|How can I make the most merit?|
|Peace Pagoda, Batersea Park (Andrea Grasso)|
|The Buddha, wandering ascetic|
"Or one overcome with pain, mind exhausted, comes to search outside, 'Who knows a way or two to stop this pain?' I tell you, meditators, that suffering (disappointment) results either in bewilderment or in search." — AN 6.63
- 'What is skillful, venerable sir?
- What is unskillful?
- What is blameworthy?
- What is blameless?
- What should be cultivated?
- What should not be cultivated?