Sometimes, often. (today's intention)

Although we have accumulated much bad karma in the past, producing
causes and conditions that obstruct our practice of the way, may the
buddhas and ancestors who have attained the way take pity on us,
liberate us from our karmic entanglements, and remove obstructions to
our study of the way. May their merit fill up and hold sway over the
inexhaustible dharma realm, so that they share with us their
compassion. Buddhas and ancestors were once like this; in the future
we will be like them.

(from the Soto school daily Scriptures)


真行  said...

Thank you. What a beautiful passage.

Scott Xian-Liao said...

Bows to you Jordan... Thank you for the post. It brings to mind a question that's been nagging me for a couple of years... What exactly is "merit?" Is it another word for positive Karma? It always seems to be used like "Attaboys" we referred to in the Army, so can we accumulate enough merit to balance the scales against our mistakes?

This is equally confusing when reflecting on Boddhidharma's conversation with the emperor.

With Metta


SlowZen said...

Your welcome, I am glad you appreciated it.


You are welcome for the post. Merit is an idea that is common to the Dharmic Religions. It is the positive outcome of meritorious action. Karma, has long been misunderstood as being good or bad, but it is important to understand that Karma is just action. And yes in some Buddhist and Dharmic traditions it is like you say where people try to stack their green weights against their red weights. Hoping to get a happier rebirth.

One could compare this to a work place where an apple polisher sucks up to the boss in order to get a promotion.

In Buddhist thought, this does not work for a couple of reasons off the top of my head (and after going 40 hours without sleep!)

First off, if your intention in doing a good deed is tainted by desire, say for example, a higher rebirth, than because of your greed you will fall into the ream of hungry ghosts.

Second, the path that Bhodidharma taught, was not aiming for higher rebirths at all, but rather putting an end to the cycle of birth and death.

It is an amusing coincidence that you should bring that case up. Last night I was standing post as the Command Duty Officer, and was copying the Heart Sutra into my field notebook. If my actions generated any merit, I dedicate it to those struggling in the hell realms of the hungry ghosts.

May we all enter the Buddha way together!

Thanks for looking!