Merit is everything
There is no Tibetan Buddhism or Indian Buddhism or Chinese Buddhism or Korean or Japanese Buddhism.
The teachings of Buddha are categorized into Theravada also known as Hinayana Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism.
Even Vajrayana Buddhism goes into the category of Mahayana Buddhism which focuses on Bodhicitta as the primary source of practice.
As one great master says, someone like Buddha, who has merit like a sky, even the sound of a bird can awake him from Samsara.
And someone like me (Tenzin Dhondup), who has no merit, even hearing so many precious beautiful Buddha Dharma teachings, I am still asleep.
Merit plays the most significant role in Buddhism.
The mind is like a hotel and thoughts are like a guest, a hotel should not attach to a guest who leaves anytime.
So what is merit?
Anything that gets us closer to the truth that Buddha shared is having merit.
Anything that takes us away from the truth that Buddha shared is having no merit.
So what are the truths shared by Buddha?
1. All compounded things are impermanent.
2. All emotions are pain.
3. All things have no inherent existence.
4. Nirvana is beyond concepts.
These are spoken by the Buddha himself. These are known as ' the four seals' For the sake of simplicity, masters refer to these statements as both seals and 'truths' not to be confused with the 4 noble truths in Buddhism.
Do lots of merits mean we will get everything we want and live a happy life?
In one way, this is true that more merits are the source of wishes come true but if this success with lots of money, good health, without any obstacles let us go deeper into Samsaric life then we are getting stuck in our success that not even a thought of wanting to be free from Samsara comes in our mind, we will be away from the truth that Buddha taught, and it is the same as no merit.
Many of the past great masters including Jetsun Milarepa were became Buddha because of having lots of obstacles in Samsaric life which lead them to renounce the Samsara, and that is what merit is all about.
These masters know that every success we gain in Samsara is like a mud palace near the ocean built by a kid, sooner or later we have to leave everything, so they say all these successes are meaningless and they try to seek something beyond, which is again what merit is all about.
How to acquire merit?
Many of the Buddhist practices, chanting, prostrating, meditation, reading scriptures, and making kora around the stupa are focused on acquiring merit, but these practices should connect with our mind.
The best way to acquire merit is from our minds. We can simply wish all beings be happy and we are creating many positive merits.
We should never expect anything in return when we make wishes for others or when we give something to others; in this way, our merit will increase day by day.
By sharing this information about merit, we can easily understand that to practice Buddha Dharma is not difficult since all the Buddhist practice focuses on the mind, which is the source of all the happiness and suffering.
We can start our practice of merit via making wishes.
When we see a nice car, may everyone can have a nice car like that.
When we see a beautiful person, may everyone be born as beautiful.
When we see a sick person, may all the people who are sick get well asap, may all people be healthy. We can also help if we can via giving some donation or any other help that we can do, but we should never ask or wait for anything in return, helping without expectations.
Merit plays a significant role in normal life too, for Travelers who are traveling to Tibet can also make wishes.
May everyone has great weather in Mount Everest or any sightseeing they are visiting without any expectation in return, we are creating better weather for our tour, so merit is easy to practice.
What are the positive and negative merits?
When you are happy, may everyone be happy like me.
When you are sad, may no one becomes sad like me, we create lots of positive merits easily.
May good things happen to all beings or that person, if such thought arises in our mind, we are creating positive merits and good things will happen to us because of our good intention.
When we are happy, may no one becomes happy like me.
When we are sad, may everyone or that person become more sad or sad like me.
May bad things happen to all beings or that person, if such a thought arises in our mind, we are creating negative merits and bad things will happen to us because of our bad intention.
All the merits are created from 3 doors, mind, body, and speech but the strongest merit will be created from the mind since the mind is the source of speech and body.
When we feed our mind with kind thoughts every day, we are for sure making lots of good merits and training our mind in the right direction. We will definitely get closer to the truth of Buddha.
Slowly a precious thought, to be free from Samsara comes into our mind, and if we go deeper into the teachings of Buddha, we will slowly realize the truth that all Sentient Beings are once our own mother.
We will have more precious thoughts, what's the point of seeking our own happiness when our mothers are suffering.
We will start practicing Buddha Dharma for the enlightenment of all Sentient Beings.
The main mission of Mahayana Buddhism is to free all Sentient Beings from the sufferings of Samsara.
May the merit of writing this article, Bodhicitta grows in the mind of all Sentient Beings.
Since I am a beginner Buddhist, May Guru, Buddha and Bodhisattvas forgive me for sharing my limited tiny little drop on merit.