Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yours, mine and ours? Not at all

A long while ago I signed up to receive some daily wisdom from Beliefnet, and among the varieties I (unsurprisingly) chose Buddhism. They are little snippets from books, sutras, interviews, and the like. Tuesday and Wednesday’s quotes caught my attention as they say the same thing in such different styles…

Clearly, buddha-dharma is not practiced for one's own sake, and even less for the sake of fame and profit. Just for the sake of buddha-dharma you should practice it.

All buddhas' compassion and sympathy for sentient beings are neither for their own sake nor for the sake of others. It is just the nature of buddha-dharma.

-Dogen, "Moon in a Dewdrop"

"When you practice generosity, Subhuti, you should not rely on any object to be the cause of your generosity. You should not rely on words, for they are merely labels. If you practice generosity without relying on causes or labels, you cannot conceive of the happiness. Subhuti, do you think that the space in the east can be measured?"

"No, Honored One."

"Can the space in the west, the north, or the south, or up above or down below be measured?"

"No, Honored One."

"In the same way, Subhuti, if you do not rely on any concept when practicing generosity, the happiness that results is as immeasurable as space."

-Diamond Sutra

This is interesting to me because of the concept of “merit”, which in some circles (both within and outside of Buddhism) it is seen as a version of cosmic brownie points or some unit of spiritual wealth. My own view of merit (as defined in my glossary) is a little different: “Merit…The virtue produced by enlightened action, it is the opposite of karma, or actions based on ignorance and their effects. Merit can effectively purify or neutralize the suffering caused by ignorance. While some talk about transferring merit, the shared benefit of activities producing merit is both automatic and instantaneous.”

If buddhanature is unified and non-discriminatory, then the sharing of merit would be both automatic and instantaneous. If there isn’t “this buddhanature” and “that buddhanature” and “those buddhanatures”, then all merit works for the benefit of all sentient beings. Accumulating merit, then, is not a private or selfish act, with each of us building up our own personal spiritual bank accounts--it is a unifying and edifying activity for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. lovely blog....i am at

    a freethinker....but interested in spirituality and buddhism nonetheless....


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