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Do you think generating 'merit' has an actual effect in the world?

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I've been reading up about other buddhist practises besides meditation lately, and one which interested me is the idea of merit.

Do you think there is some sort of 'magickal' effect from merit accumulation through good deeds leading to good circumstances? Or it is some sort of clustering illusion, where the desired circumstances just happens to coincide with living a good life?

Hi Deepankar, I will offer my perspective as somebody who has been accelerating my practice for about 18 months, and joined this forum in the last month.

I think that when that you consciously engage in activities that might 'generate merit', you gain the benefits of first reducing your own attachments to negative behaviours, and second making your own mind and the environment that you live in slightly more beneficial places. These effects mean you are more likely to experience positive outcomes, both in terms of the things that happen to you and how you react to them.

So I don't think that generating merit is magical, or illusory, except as simplifying metaphor.  Rather, it is  more in the nature of creating a better external and internal situation to live within.  How do we know what is effective in generating those better situations? Here I have faith in the Buddha. I mean that in the sense that I also have faith in Einstein.  Both came up with heaps of great ideas, encouraged testing of those ideas, and keep turning out to be right again and again.  So to generate merit, and thus make your own life better, I suggest following Siddharta Gotama's guildeines - he hasn't been wrong yet!

I hope this helps. Peace and love to you, and best wishes on your journey.

I think merit translates as deeds, so it definitely has an effect in the world. 

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/merit.html

RE: Do you think generating 'merit' has an actual effect in the world?
Answer
7/26/17 8:05 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Doing good is... good.

RE: Do you think generating 'merit' has an actual effect in the world?
Answer
7/26/17 9:45 PM as a reply to shargrol.
It's all cause and effect on some level. Good stuff usually acts as cause for more good stuff. Good stuff meaning one's own mental, verbal and physical actions. Whether my good thoughts fly through the air and act as some paranormal cause for some effect I'm not sure. But I do know that the good thoughts lead to pliant and more malleable and pleasant mind. A good base to do lots of things. Cause and effect. 

(from previously linked Merit guide)

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "All the grounds for making merit leading to spontaneously arising (in heaven) do not equal one-sixteenth of awareness-release through good will. Good will — surpassing them — shines, blazes, & dazzles."Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal one-sixteenth of the radiance of the moon, as the moon — surpassing them — shines, blazes, & dazzles, even so, all the grounds for making merit leading to spontaneously arising in heaven do not equal one-sixteenth of awareness-release through good will. Good will — surpassing them — shines, blazes, & dazzles."Just as in the last month of the rains, in autumn, when the sky is clear & cloudless, the sun, on ascending the sky, overpowers the space immersed in darkness, shines, blazes, & dazzles, even so, all the grounds for making merit leading to spontaneously arising in heaven do not equal one-sixteenth of awareness-release through good will. Good will — surpassing them — shines, blazes, & dazzles."Just as in the pre-dawn darkness the morning star shines, blazes, & dazzles, even so, all the grounds for making merit leading to spontaneously arising in heaven do not equal one-sixteenth of awareness-release through good will. Good will — surpassing them — shines, blazes, & dazzles."

When one develops — mindful —
good will without limit,
fetters are worn through,
on seeing the ending
of acquisitions.

If with uncorrupted mind
you feel good will
for even
one
being,
you become skilled from that.
But a Noble One produces
a mind of sympathy
for
all
beings,
an abundance of merit.

Kingly seers, who conquered the earth
swarming with beings,
went about making sacrifices:
the horse sacrifice, human sacrifice,
water rites, soma rites,
& the "Unobstructed,"
but these don't equal
one sixteenth
of a well-developed mind of good will —
as all the constellations don't,
one sixteenth
of the radiance of the moon.
"making merit leading to spontaneously arising (in heaven)"

"awareness release through good will"

Does anyone know what these two refer to exactly?

RE: Do you think generating 'merit' has an actual effect in the world?
Answer
7/28/17 5:42 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Andrew K:

"making merit leading to spontaneously arising (in heaven)"

"awareness release through good will"

Does anyone know what these two refer to exactly?

1) I think in some traditional accounts, Devadetta collected so much bad karma he ended up being transported to the hell realms without even having to die first... so maybe the opposite of this?

2) Thanissaro commonly uses 'awareness release' to refer to jhana (and 'discernment-release' = insight/liberation), so jhana through metta practice.

RE: Do you think generating 'merit' has an actual effect in the world?
Answer
7/28/17 6:41 PM as a reply to dharmaguy.
Thanks for your reply dharmaguy. I didn't know about these two terms that Thanissaro uses, that is interesting, thanks for that.

So I guess in the first case, its like when you do a good/bad deed and immediately experience heavenly/hellish results... eg you say some abusive words to someone and experience a hellish state, or you give someone a timely and special gift and experience a heavenly joy? (experiencing hell/heaven without dieing).

And so is he saying that the benefit from metta-jhana is far superior to the joys of merit making (supposedly through deeds, generosity etc)?