From Iti 60:
This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "There are these three grounds for meritorious activity. Which three? The ground for meritorious activity made of giving, the ground for meritorious activity made of virtue, and the ground for meritorious activity made of development [meditation]. These are the three ...
The mechanism behind merit transfer is this:
There is an element of Metta which benefits one self and other as it creates positive vibes. When you do good followed by strong volition to share this positivity this creates more positivity. Also this vibes can be sometimes telepathic.
Also being in some other realms (not all realms even then not always) can ...
The idea of "sharing merit" or "transferring merit" is very popular in Theravāda Buddhism. I do not believe that it has a basis in the Suttas. I have read that this concept was introduced much later because of folk beliefs.
The closest thing in the Suttas to sharing or transferring of merit is in Pv 1.5 / Khp 7, which talks about food / drink and ghosts:
The difference is that it is possible to drive a car without the intention of killing the bugs you will hit, but it's not possible to kill an animal for a particular purpose without intending to kill it. You can't do something for a specific purpose without somehow forming the intention to do what you are doing.
For example if a farmer decides to kill a ...
Kamma is action which produces results, which could be called "merit." It's like seeds planted in a field, no one knows for sure when they will ripen, but if they were planted, they will ripen:
Just as when seeds are not broken, not rotten, not damaged by wind & heat, capable of sprouting, well-buried, planted in well-prepared soil, and the rain-god ...
According to the Talaputra Sutta, one time an actor approached the Buddha and asked him if he would go to heaven with the devas because he made people happy and forget their worries.
The Buddha tried to dodge answering, but at the actor's insistence, he had to tell him that he'd probably go to hell or the animal realms.
This question: Will actors ...
The one thing that really jumps out at me is intention.
About 6% of the world's population is Buddhist and might be familiar with the concepts explained in Ryan and Buddho's answers. Not all Buddhists would though, due to differences in teachings, understandings, and traditions.
So an overwhelming majority of the world's population (94% or more) may be ...
I have heard a simile which give some insight around this question. It goes like this. Suppose that you have a big bag with black and white pebbles. The black pebbles are the bad "Karma" and white are the good "Karma" which you have done in your past. When you do an act of merit, you add one white pebble to your bag. Add a black pebble for unwholesome acts.
There's a Jakarta story of a previous incarnation of the Buddha giving his body to a hungry tigress. The reason for that act was to prevent the tigress eating her cubs, which would have damaged her sila.
Therefore, I will kill my miserable body by casting it down into the precipice, and with my corpse I shall preserve the tigress from killing her young ...
One should teach the dhamma for the sake of revulsion, of dispassion, of cessation, regarding:
The 6 sense-bases,
Decay of Formations,
(Nibbidā) Dhamma,kathika Sutta
The above included:
the 3 good truths (saddhamma);
the 12 links of dependent ...
According to What Buddhists Believe by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera, it is possible to transfer merit to living persons as well as deceased persons.
According to Buddhism, good deeds or 'acts of merit' bring happiness to the doer both in this world and in the hereafter. Acts of merit are also believed to lead towards the final goal of everlasting ...
In Chinese/Mahayana Buddhism, not only is it possible, but under the Brahma Net Sutra precepts, you are obliged to teach the dharma to all sentient beings including animals.
In that cosmology, hearing the dharma today creates the karma and merit that will bear positive fruit in future lives.
Failure to Teach Sentient Beings
A disciple of the ...
The merit cannot be transferred through anyway to the passed one or man to man. But the merit can be shared to the departed one and also man to man. In the Tirokuddo Sutta, has no mentioned that the merit can be transferred to passed one or others. in this Sutta, in the last verse, the word 'puñña's has mentioned but that is acquired by the donor himself.
In Buddhism the merit created is greater if you give food to a monk when compared with giving to a prisoner for example, it doesn't mean you should not help the prisoner, it means that you create more merits by helping pure and enlighted beings to survive, there are many stories on the dhammapada about it.
Think as if you are helping the Sangha to survive, ...
In the Jataka tales (Similar to Aseop's Fables ) there are many stories about the Buddha's various past lives. These are tales for children and normally come with a moral.
There are a ton of them, and they normally end with the animal the Buddha is reborn as helping out in someway that is aligned with the teachings.
You can see a few of them summarized ...
What does the phrase “to armor oneself with vows” mean?
I don't recall seeing that exact phrase in the texts that I've read but the analogy of the vows being used as an armor symbolizes the protection they provide to oneself and others by observing them. You can see this theme in the Self-protected Discourse (Atta-rakkhita Sutta) for example:
It's not really about what you give, it 's about what you give up. What you let go.
We can always give love. We can always send lovingkindness and compassion.
We can give to ourselves if it is from the heart. Love yourself by loving all beings. Free yourself by loving all beings. When you love yourself in a virtuous way, you see yourself as you humbly see ...
It's not about giving.. if you can live with good thoughts that's enough. You can give a little water to a thirsty animal, that's also a great thing. Keep your mind clean and good. Don't make your giving a competition with others. Read the following Dharma Padaya.
manasa ce pasannena
bhasati va karoti va
It is a very important question. Accumulating merit.
If you can undo all your past wrong doings then that will accrue merit.
For example if you have lied in the past and now you have taken an oath to never lie again that brings merit.
If you have collected money by wrongful means and now if you decide to donate all your money then that brings merit.
If you ...
The first paramita in Mahayana is paramita of generosity. And what generosity could we talk about if we are keeping our merit to ourselves?
As many Buddhist practices, this transfer of merit thing works on multiple levels.
One of them is prophylactics against spiritual materialism. You don't want to get caught up in the idea of accumulating anything for ...
What I have learned from Theravada tradition (based on a Buddha's discourse) is that you can only transfer merits to beings in the hungry ghost realm, if a relative of yours has passed away and you have reasons to believe he/she is in the ghost realm (manifestations, signs etc.*) you can burn food, incense, clothes or donate food and clothes to the sangha ...
According to the Theravadian Buddhist tradition, I find it difficult to fathom the principle of accumulating 'Merit' or 'Punya kamma', as well as the popular practice of transferring 'merits' to one's departed loved ones.
Like many other things in Buddhist practices and rituals, 'Punya kamma' also has the hallmark of a vestigial remnant of Hinduism.
This originated in the observation that to rejoice in other successes was a virtuous deed. So if I did something well, in the Buddhist sense, I don't know, maybe I ordained into the sangha, I could send you a post card and you would be happy to know about it. At that point my merit lead to you gaining more merit. (Wikipedia said so, I don't have the link at ...
I agree with dean's harsh but canonical answer. Animal's do not possess the intelligence necessary to create enough understanding of Dharma to Awaken. They also have other obstacles such as being uncomfortable, emotionally bonded to tribe, etc.
If an animal does manage to reach a high level of cultivation in its life (very rare) then it tends to die on the ...