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In AN 8.36: Ways of Meritorious Action, the Buddha speaks about different ways of making merit.

He teaches that one can make merit by Giving, by practicing Virtue (Morality) and by developing Meditation. He also mentions in what sphere of existence a being will be reborn according to which meritorious deeds are practiced and to what degree (small, high, very high).

In the sutta the Buddha only mentions Giving in combination with Virtue. Making merit by practicing Meditation is not mentioned.

  • Why is that?
  • What are the merits made by practicing Meditation in combination with Giving and Virtue?

Below is the quoted sutta.

Thank you for your time.

WAYS OF MERITORIOUS ACTION

"There are, monks, three ways of making merit. What three?

"There are ways of making merit by giving, by (practicing) virtue and by meditation.

"There is a person who, only to a small degree, has practiced the making of merit by giving; and, likewise to a small degree, he has practiced the making of merit by virtue; but the making of merit by meditation he has not undertaken. This one, after death, when his body breaks up, will be reborn among humans in an ill-favored condition.

"Another person has practiced to a high degree the making of merit by giving as well as by virtue; but the making of merit by meditation he has not undertaken. Such a one, after death, when his body breaks up, will be reborn among humans in favorable conditions.

"Or he will be reborn in the company of the deities of the Four Great Divine Kings. And there, the Four Great Divine Kings, who had practiced to a very high degree the making of merit by giving and by virtue, surpass the deities of their realm in ten things: in divine life span, divine beauty, divine happiness, divine power, divine sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches.

"Or he will be reborn in the company of the Thirty-three gods. And there, Sakka king of gods, who had practiced to a very high degree the making of merit by giving and virtue, surpasses...

(The same statements are made for rebirth among the Yaama gods, Tusita gods, the gods of creative joy, the gods controlling others' creations, and for the respective rulers of these realms.)

"These, monks, are the three ways of making merit."

— AN 8.36

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AN8.36 is mainly dealing with giving as it comes under the category of Dana Vagga.

https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.36

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AN 8.36 is for puthujjana (ordinary people), who have cravings & lusts for worldly pleasures, power & status. It is bribing puthujjana with promises of worldly rewards if they do good, as stated:

surpass... in divine life span, divine beauty, divine happiness, divine power, divine sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches.

For those who doubt my explanation, MN 75 makes it clear what divine sensual pleasures are:

Having conducted himself well in body, speech and mind, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he might reappear in a happy destination, in the heavenly world in the retinue of the gods of the Thirty-three; and there, surrounded by a group of nymphs in the Nandana Grove, he would enjoy himself, provided and endowed with the five cords of divine sensual pleasure.enter image description hereenter image description here

Meditation is not for puthujjana, i.e., not for those unwilling & unable to abandon craving. This is why meditation is not mentioned in the sutta.

This sutta is unrelated to the core essence (heartwood) of Buddhism but is a peripheral subject.

This sutta is similar to Islam, where a man doing good receives a reward of 72 virgins in heaven.

Has the news of the.. Resurrection...reached you?... Some faces on that Day shall be joyful, well-pleased with their endeavors, in a lofty Garden; there they shall hear no idle talk. In it there will be running springs; in it there will be raised couches, goblets set forth, cushions ranged in rows and fine carpets spread out.

Koran Surah 88

  • I can't imagine why a Buddha would bribe lay people. I don't have enough knowledge of the Suttas (or Islam) to comfortably comment on the content of your answer. Thanks for your time and effort though. – Lanka May 21 '17 at 10:59
  • The sutta is clearly stating that generous & moral people will acquire a life of material & sensual luxury; namely, the five cords of divine sensual pleasure. It is not only about doing merit. It is about the results of that merit. – Dhammadhatu May 22 '17 at 0:50
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Whenever Buddha taught, nibbana is the aim, without nibbana, it is not Buddha teaching. For ordinary people, to achieve nibbana, attachment for worldly goods must be reduced, after that observing good virtue and only after that developing insight meditation, i.e, step by step approach for some but not all people. And also whoever prefer dana, talking about dana would lead to piti feeling based on this concentration and insight toward nibbana. The same applies to sila. It is not bribing the ordinary people. Some said ordinary people are bribed by celestial abodes and frightened by hell, it is totally wrong. All the dhamma talk aimed at some person to achieve nibbana. If somebody would achieve nibbana, in some instances, Buddha knowingly did give such dhamma even some other people would turn against Him. Regarding insight meditation, noting rupa(matter),50 million merit occurring in a wink of time, while noting nama(mind), one billion merit in a wink of time, topmost dana, unsurpassable dana, dhamma dana, Buddha and arahant used to praise such dana because by insight meditation, one is just giving away, not taking for himself with delusion for all these mind and matter that come and go unnoticeably, it is the highest dana of all only with such dana one will definitely lead to nibbana.

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