, Pāli puñña
) is a concept in Buddhism
, and particularly in Theravada Buddhism
. Merit can be gained in a number of ways. It is merit that accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts or thoughts and that carries over to later in life or to a person's next birth. Such merit contributes to a person's growth towards liberation. In addition, one can "transfer" the merit of an act they have performed to a deceased loved one in order to diminish the deceased's suffering in their new existence.
Three bases of merit
The Pali canon identifies three bases of merit (Pali: puññakiriyavatthu). In the ("Meritorious actions discourse," AN 8.36 or A 8.4.6), the Buddha identifies the following three bases:
In the "Sangiti Sutta" ("Chanting together discourse," DN 33), verse 38, Ven. Sariputta identifies the same triad: dāna, sīla, bhāvanā.
In the Khuddaka Nikaya's Itivuttaka (Iti. 1.22), the three bases are defined as: giving (dānassa), self mastery (damassa) and refraining (saññamassā). Later in this same sutta, the triad is restated as: giving (dāna), a life of mental calm (sama-cariya) and a mind of good-will (metta-citta).
earn merit through mindfulness
and other rituals.
A post-canonical commentary, elaborating on the canonically identified meritorious triad of dana-sila-bhavana (see D.III,218), states that lay devotees can make merit by performing these seven more specific acts:
- honoring others (apacayana-maya)
- offering service (veyyavacca-maya)
- involving others in good deeds (pattidana-maya)
- being thankful for others' good deeds (pattanumodana-maya)
- listening to Teachings (dhammassavana-maya)
- instructing others in the Teachings (dhammadesana-maya)
- straightening ones own views in accord with the Teachings (ditthujukamma)
- Payutto, P.A. (1997, trans. from Thai by Bruce Evans). A Constitution for Living. Buddhadhamma Foundation. Retrieved 2007-11-09 from "Buddhist Scriptures Information Retrieval" (budsir) at http://www.budsir.org/Conlive.html.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/. The entry for "sama1" (as in "sama-cariya) is at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.3:1:3467.pali.
- Thanissaro, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2001). The Group of Ones §22 (Iti. 1.22). Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/iti/iti.1.001-027.than.html#iti-022.
- Upalavanna, Sister (n.d.). Anguttara Nikaya 8.4, Dānavaggo: On giving gifts. Retrieved 2007-11-09 from "MettaNet" at http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara5/8-atthakanipata/004-danavaggo-e.html. The "" ("Meritous actions discourse") is identified as sutta 6.
- Walshe, Maurice O'C. (1995). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-103-3.