It is said that merit transfer is a later development. We reap what we sow, it is not possible for the merit to be transferred. Is it true any recipient will not be able to receive any merit that is done and transferred by someone?

4 Answers 4


Of course merit can be transferred, such as when the love or goodness of one person makes another person feel love or goodness, such as when parents love their children & thus transfer their merit to their children.

However, transferring merit to dead or unconnected people, yes, that would bring the results to the giver similar to a metta or gratitude meditation.

Whether there is actual merit being transferred to the dead would be not knowable.

In five ways, young householder, a child should minister to his parents as the East:

(i) Having supported me I shall support them, (ii) I shall do their duties, (iii) I shall keep the family tradition, (iv) I shall make myself worthy of my inheritance, (v) I shall offer alms in honor of my departed relatives.

Sigalovada Sutta


Merits(punya/the good deeds) as well as the bad deeds can be transferred/dedicated(anumodana) to others. But there is an element of action involved at the receiving end. For example; someone commits a noble deed and transfers that merit to me. To receive the merit, I should endorse and acknowledge the action. This is usually expressed as "Sadhu! Sadhu! Anumodami". Same applies for evil deeds.

“Chethanaham bikkawe kamman wadami. Chethaithwa kamman karothi kayena wachaya manasa”

Dear Bikkhus, I introduce thought as karma. It is after having thought that we engage in action physically, verbally and mentally.

Nibbedhika Sutta: AN 6.63

  • But how do we know if the merit is received or transferred? Say for example, we transfer merit to an animal or a ghost.
    – B1100
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 10:27
  • 1
    Animals do not receive merits. And among hungry ghost, only paradattupama preta can receive merits. In my opinion, there is no definitive way of knowing. Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 13:21
  • But according to Cula-Sacakka Sutta merit cannot be transferred: "Aggivessana, whatever has come from (giving to) a recipient such as you — not without passion, not without aversion, not without delusion — that will be for the donors. Whatever has come from (giving to) a recipient such as me — without passion, without aversion, without delusion — that will be for you."
    – B1100
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 6:13

I think that the Paccha-bhumika Sutta implies that people's destiny is influenced by their own actions.

There are other topics on this site about transferring merit which explain the practice in more detail.

Perhaps it's similar to metta meditation, i.e. it could at least have an effect (or begin by having an effect) on the practitioner.


@B1100… your question applies to that of afterlife too. The question that arises is that… Who gets the benefit of the meritorious deeds at the time of one’s death, if there is no 'self'? Is the same person who does deeds will reap the benefits or is it another person who will reap the benefits?

Buddha did not fall into two extremes when explaining who reaps the benefits. One extreme is to say "it is the same person who reaps the benefits". The other extreme is to say "it is another person who reaps the benefits". It is neither the same person nor a completely different person". I am unable to find in which sutta this is explained – hopefully I’ll come across it sooner or later.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .