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Do I get more merits if I give more? What is considered a reasonable donation? Please give some examples.

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The very intention of making merit is bound in craving & thus in egoism. Please refer to AN 7.49 how to give properly.

  • Is that the popular view in Theravada societies? – ChrisW May 14 at 5:59
  • I would suppose that the popular view of 'Theravada societies' is that of a worldly one, namely, rebirth & kamma. If the thought 'I get more merits if I get more' appears & acted out, then that is a form of attachment. – Val May 14 at 6:05
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People who claim to only want to be reborn in nice realms love their idea that they can get there by dana hoping they can avoid samadhi, The problem with dana is mostly that the result of dana depends of the cetana of the giver (that's a well known claim by the buddha https://suttacentral.net/an7.52/en/sujato) but also on how well behaved is the receiver of the gift https://suttacentral.net/an7.47/en/sujato and https://suttacentral.net/an7.96-614/en/sujato and in fact, the receiver approaches first the well behaved giver https://suttacentral.net/an7.57/en/sujato

. And of course, when there is nobody to receive the gift, there cannot be a dana in the first place....

So typically giving stuff to noble ones work well, but giving stuff puthujjanas and animals is not ''of great fruit'', even with the proper cetana.

"And how is a donation endowed with six factors? There is the case where there are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients.

"And which are the three factors of the donor? There is the case where the donor, before giving, is glad; while giving, his/her mind is bright & clear; and after giving is gratified. These are the three factors of the donor.

"And which are the three factors of the recipients? There is the case where the recipients are free of passion or are practicing for the subduing of passion; free of aversion or practicing for the subduing of aversion; and free of delusion or practicing for the subduing of delusion. These are the three factors of the recipients.

"Such are the three factors of the donor, the three factors of the recipients. And this is how a donation is endowed with six factors.

"And it is not easy to take the measure of the merit of a donation thus endowed with six factors as 'just this much a bonanza of merit, a bonanza of what is skillful — a nutriment of bliss, heavenly, resulting in bliss, leading to heaven — that leads to what is desirable, pleasing, charming, beneficial, pleasant.' It is simply reckoned as a great mass of merit, incalculable, immeasurable. [1]

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.037.than.html

The best activity to generate merit is really samadhi, and the people who prefer dana to non-arya over samadhi fail to understand that their choice does not give efficient result. It is like wanting to build a huge pyramid and those people built this with grain of sand after grain sand, instead of laying down huge bricks after huge bricks and actually building the pyramid quickly and with efficacy. Dana to non-nobles works, but not as efficient as those people love to think and they better have good sila outside of dana in order to make it work.... When there is no buddha, no arya sangha to give stuff to, there is still the citta to control and this activity is always meritorious, so people who want to be reborn in nice realm better be skilled in the jhanas.

  • You talk as if Samadhi (or Jhana) is entered by everyone effortlessly, when it's not. Sila & Dana is the foundation for Samadhi & talking about Jhana for lay-people is unrealistic, unless the person in question practises for a long time already with a diligent meditation schedule – Val May 18 at 8:19
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Giving more requires greater Alobha(detachment). So yes, it is more meritorious. But make sure there's wisdom involved in the act.

Ex: if you give a cart full of food to just one monk who doesn't have anyone else to share it with, the food is just going to waste. In that case your ignorance can diminish the quality of the merits gained.

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The answer to this is found in AN 7.52 (quoted below). It's not about how much you give, rather, it's the intention with which you give it. This is unsurprising, because kamma is mainly about intention.

The highest reward comes by giving a gift only because it supports and adorns the mind. In this answer, I've analyzed that this means that any kind of reward is not expected for giving, instead one gives because it makes the mind virtuous. The purpose of virtue is in AN 10.1.

The second best reward comes by giving a gift only because it makes the mind serene and joyful.

The lowest reward comes by giving a gift because a reward in the form of future enjoyment or future pleasures is expected.

“Sariputta, there is the case where a person gives a gift seeking his own profit, with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself [with the thought], ‘I’ll enjoy this after death.’ He gives his gift—food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp—to a brahman or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?”

“Yes, lord.”

“Having given this gift seeking his own profit—with a mind attached [to the reward], seeking to store up for himself, [with the thought], ‘I’ll enjoy this after death’—on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Four Great Kings. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Then there is the case of a person who gives a gift not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], ‘I’ll enjoy this after death.’ Instead, he gives a gift with the thought, ‘Giving is good.’ He gives his gift—food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp—to a brahman or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?”

“Yes, lord.”

“Having given this gift with the thought, ‘Giving is good,’ on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Thirty-three. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead of thinking, ‘Giving is good,’ he gives a gift with the thought, ‘This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued’… on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Devas of the Hours. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead… he gives a gift with the thought, ‘I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off’… on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the Contented Devas. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead… he gives a gift with the thought, ‘Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past—Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, & Bhagu—in the same way will this be my distribution of gifts’… on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who delight in creation. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead… he gives a gift with the thought, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise’… on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of the devas who have power over the creations of others. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a returner, coming back to this world.

“Or, instead of thinking, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,’ he gives a gift with the thought, ‘This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind.’ He gives his gift—food, drink, clothing, a vehicle; a garland, perfume, & ointment; bedding, shelter, & a lamp—to a brahman or a contemplative. What do you think, Sariputta? Might a person give such a gift as this?”

“Yes, lord.”

“Having given this, not seeking his own profit, not with a mind attached [to the reward], not seeking to store up for himself, nor [with the thought], ‘I’ll enjoy this after death,’

“—nor with the thought, ‘Giving is good,’

“—nor with the thought, ‘This was given in the past, done in the past, by my father & grandfather. It would not be right for me to let this old family custom be discontinued,’

“—nor with the thought, ‘I am well-off. These are not well-off. It would not be right for me, being well-off, not to give a gift to those who are not well-off,’ nor with the thought, ‘Just as there were the great sacrifices of the sages of the past—Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa, & Bhagu—in the same way this will be my distribution of gifts,’

“—nor with the thought, ‘When this gift of mine is given, it makes the mind serene. Gratification & joy arise,’

“—but with the thought, ‘This is an ornament for the mind, a support for the mind’—on the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of Brahma’s Retinue. Then, having exhausted that action, that power, that status, that sovereignty, he is a non-returner. He does not come back to this world.

“This, Sariputta, is the cause, this is the reason, why a person gives a gift of a certain sort and it does not bear great fruit or great benefit, whereas another person gives a gift of the same sort and it bears great fruit and great benefit.”

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Nyom Sarath, if all other factors, like the donors mind quality, the receiver, the usefulness of the gift is equal, one of course gains more merits by greater amount, but the factor of amout (over all objective value) has much lesser impact than the givers purity and that of the receiver. So if after much merits, those factors are better kept an eye on.

Think just one the poor merits of a gift not purified by the giver and not by the receiver. Most, especially large donations, are made at this level, also by the most.

Another thing on the amout of donation is, that not a "marked-value" counts here, not even the value for the receiver (given that it is of use), but the amount it costs the giver to let go.

For example one might have less problem to give $100 dollar for worker cost. Now he would not sacrify easy a day to work by himself, not even an hour. If this person would let go of 1h to work, he would make probably more merits then by giving the 100$ where he isn't that attached to, has already forgotten the sacrifices to gain such an amout. Or take a child having a diamond and a cheap toy. Or take an proud millionare to either order a monastery or bow down one time before a young (good) monk.

It's a huge topic, maybe some useful to find here in this collection.

If one considers a large donation, especially when it requires a good period of time and management, one is good advices to seek for assistance by a monks who knows the topic well not only from books and there are actually less monks who have fullfilled the perfection in giving till their current state. Otherwise, if not good informed, motivated and the mind not proper prepeared and turned to best objectivity, a large, long effort requiring giving can even produce more demerits if neither skilled in giving nor bad adviced and mostly in such cases the receiver are also far from benefiting, often even not worthy at all.

If after wishing to get the topic better known, since not a place that has much inspiring and visitors holding giving high, Nyom would know where given places are dedicated for such.

Anyway, much joy and shared pre-joy in/for giving and the more one does, the more with a satipatthana heard while, the faster fruits and to be not perfect at the beginning is normal but for a grow. One who does not, does neither gain sure small merits nor ever learn to make huge and grow even near borderlands till the base where stream can be reached.

And to react a little on foolish statements, it's total not wrong to seek for the most benefit from ones gifts. Only if thinking on low benefits, worldly pleasures fast to gain, than such might be not so good, yet still above normal trade. One who thinks carefully and askes people who know the skill, whether for heavens sack or beyound is a wise person. Good requires strong desire after it, how else could one let go of much, even all?

(Note that this is not given for trade, stacks and exchange for a bound in the wheel but for increasing debts toward release from it)

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