Topic: How does merit get transferred to next life
Date: 5th January 2001
The logical question to ask with the awareness of death is: what kind of behavior is the most suitable when facing this inevitable death”.
In the daily life people buy insurance policies due to fear of disasters, dangers, calamities and losses etc. Similarly, a wise person aware of death does meritorious deeds, and follow dhamma. In Samyuttha Nikaya, Kosala Samyutta, “Simile of the Boulder” buddha shows that the path to follow when the inevitable happens is to lead a balanced life, follow the dhamma and to do meritorious deeds.
Meritorious deeds are those that suppresses or helps the mind be devoid the roots of defilement, i.e., greed, hatred and delusion. Due to lack of exertion the mind always wonder alone, it thinks about past, or future. In absence of right effort the defiling conditions occur very often. Therefore, a person will do meritorious deeds to purify the mind.
Who gets the benefit of the meritorious deeds if there is no ‘self’? Is the same person who does deeds will reap the benefits or is it another person who will reap the benefits?
Buddha did not fall into two extremes when explaining who reaps the benefits. One extreme is to say “it is the same person who reaps the benefits”. The other extreme is to say “it is another person who reaps the benefits”. It is neither the same person nor a completely different person”.
Consider and infant growing up to be an old man. An infant grows up to become a child who is not the same as the infant yet she is not completely different from the infant. Similarly each stage is not completely different from the earlier stages and at the same time not the same as the earlier stages. It is a mental and biological process that continues. Therefore, meritorious deeds will bring benefits and happiness to the future continuing being of this process.
However, due to uncertainties in the cycles of existence in the future, it is wiser to seek Nirvana or enlightenment to end the birth, aging, sickness and death etc. The deeds that helps a person to attain Nirvana are called parami or the deeds done out of compassion (kindness) and wisdom.
Discussions on thoughts of detachments, factors leading to enlightenment, and compassion followed.