Make merit

Merit (Buddhism)

Merit (Sanskrit , 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).


Buddhist monks earn merit through mindfulness, meditation, chanting 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:

  1. honoring others (apacayana-maya)
  2. offering service (veyyavacca-maya)
  3. involving others in good deeds (pattidana-maya)
  4. being thankful for others' good deeds (pattanumodana-maya)
  5. listening to Teachings (dhammassavana-maya)
  6. instructing others in the Teachings (dhammadesana-maya)
  7. straightening ones own views in accord with the Teachings (ditthujukamma)

See also



  • 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
  • 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 The entry for "sama1" (as in "sama-cariya) is at
  • Thanissaro, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2001). The Group of Ones §22 (Iti. 1.22). Available on-line at
  • Upalavanna, Sister (n.d.). Anguttara Nikaya 8.4, Dānavaggo: On giving gifts. Retrieved 2007-11-09 from "MettaNet" at 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.

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