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In this question a comment stated in part "The old sense of transferring merit had to do with mudita, you tell other people about your success so that other people can be happy about that. Being happy about other people success is meritable, so it works like transfer."

The idea that telling people about your success is wholesome, is very surprising to me. I somehow had the impression that from a Buddhist point of view, being very modest and not making such things known was better.

Did the Buddha teach anything specific about this? Thank you.

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I would suggest that it depends on how you relate to the success, your attitude to it. Relating an experience can be beneficial to the recipient in many cases, both in terms of use as a teaching and possibly of merit as you mention. In terms of telling about a successful experience as a teaching, this can be related to the Udayi Sutta in the Anguttara Nikaya, on how to teach the Dhamma.

"It's not easy to teach the Dhamma to others, Ananda. The Dhamma should be taught to others only when five qualities are established within the person teaching. Which five?

"The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak step-by-step.'

"The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak explaining the sequence [of cause & effect].'

"The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak out of compassion.'

"The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak not for the purpose of material reward.'

"The Dhamma should be taught with the thought, 'I will speak without hurting myself or others.'

"It's not easy to teach the Dhamma to others, Ananda. The Dhamma should be taught to others only when these five qualities are established within the person teaching."

Interpreting personal success as in the interest of self promotion is not helpful in terms of the teaching - so again it comes back to the attitude towards what is told. If for the benefit of the recipient (in terms of the Path), it could certainly be helpful.

Mudita as a divine abiding is a wholesome state, and allowing mudita to arise in oneself and others by sharing a success experience would be beneficial. However, modesty and humility are beneficial traits to acquire, especially for those of us who have not entered the stream. For most of us, sharing success stories is more about self inflation than for the benefit of others, even though sometimes on a subtle level.

So this answer is 'it depends' - and hopefully the five guidelines above can be of help, when deciding whether to convey a success story, and how to.

(edit: A few notes on Right Action and Right Speech, since they're mentioned in the question)

Right Action

The question refers to Right Action - samma kammanto in Pali - which is part of the Noble Eightfold Path. Specifically, Right Action refers to action that is in accordance with three of the five precepts - namely abstaining from the taking of a life (i.e. not killing any living being), abstaining from taking what is not given (i.e. not stealing), and abstaining from sensual (or sexual) misconduct. I do not interpret sharing a success as related to Right Action. However, in communication, Right Speech may be more relevant.

Right Speech

As translated on ATI:

"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech."

This may be helpful in deciding what to say, when to say it, and whether to say something at all:

"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will."

With metta.

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    Great answer +1. I especially like that you added the description from the Buddha about when one should teach the dhamma to others. Especially the last step im happy to learn about. Thank you. – Lanka Apr 27 '15 at 20:51
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The purpose of mudita is counter against envy arising in ourself for others.

The purpose of metta is to counter against hate arising for others.

The purpose of karuna is to counter against cruelty for others.

We don't do something to try to encourage metta in others, though we can teach.

We don't do something to try to encourage karuna in others, ....

My conclusion is so we don't do something to try to encourage mudita in others, ....

IMHO it sounds like the ego rationalising...sorry.

  • That makes sense to me. Thank you Samadhi. – Robin111 May 18 '15 at 20:01
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There is a sutta in Majjhima Nikaya in which the Buddha says that one should not exalt oneself and disparage others.

Boasting with success is not conducive to dispassion, detachment, cessation, nibbana. On the contrary it creates attachment, it expands the ego so it is not conducive to the goal.

edit:

Telling others of one's own succes so they can develop muddita over the successes they hear about gives to many opportunities for the ego to grow, for defilements to come into the mind and play it.

So my personal advice would be against this, maybe because I know my ego better and how quickly it gets pumped up.

  • Definitely. But to clarify, I'm not asking about boasting but of simply telling others of success for the purpose stated above. – Robin111 Apr 27 '15 at 13:41

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