Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread: "No merit whatsoever?"

  1. #1
    Forums Member Rodsent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Sacramento CA USA
    Posts
    52

    "No merit whatsoever?"

    What exactly did Bodhidharma mean when he told emperor Wu that no merit whatsoever was gained by him for richly endowing the Buddhist religion? Taken from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/...world/chan.htm
    Last edited by Rodsent; 13 Sep 13 at 07:38.

  2. #2
    Forums Member Victorious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    148
    Do you have a sutta reference please? It feels like a requirement if you want opinions.

  3. #3
    Forums Member Trilaksana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Long Branch, NJ USA
    Posts
    571
    I think it explains it very clearly in the link you provide. The Emperor did not gain merit because he didn't have wholesome intentions. He did it for selfish reasons.

  4. #4
    Forums Member Victorious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    148
    Quote Originally Posted by Trilaksana View Post
    I think it explains it very clearly in the link you provide. The Emperor did not gain merit because he didn't have wholesome intentions. He did it for selfish reasons.
    I thought the same thing until I realised that Rodsent might be asking for our opinions and not the author of that artikles?

    /Victor

  5. #5
    Forums Member Rodsent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Sacramento CA USA
    Posts
    52
    So emperor Wu's intentions were to gain merit for himself, and that ruined all his acts of generosity. Because they were selfish in nature?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodsent
    So emperor Wu's intentions were to gain merit for himself, and that ruined all his acts of generosity. Because they were selfish in nature?
    Hi Rodsent,

    It says at the link you provided:

    The Emperor Wu was an ardent Buddhist who prided himself on his generous support of the religion. Legend has it that, on their meeting the following conversation took place.

    Emperor: "I have richly endowed the Buddhist religion so how much merit would you say I have gained."

    Bodhidharma: "No merit whatsoever."

    The Emperor was somewhat taken aback, having heard that good begets good and evil begets evil - the Law of Karma.

    What Bodhidharma was trying to convey was that the Emperor's intention was wrong and it is the intention that determines the Karmic effect. The Emperor's intention was not altruistic giving but more for his own gain or to boost his own ego.
    The Buddha said :

    "Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & intellect.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....063.than.html

    with kind wishes,

    Aloka

  7. #7
    Forums Member Victorious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    148
    From here http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....003.wlsh.html

    Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was staying near Saavatthii, at Jeta Grove, in Anaathapi.n.dika's park. Now a certain deva,[1] as the night was passing away, lighting up the whole Jeta Grove with his effulgent beauty, approached the Blessed One and, having approached, stood on one side.

    Standing thus on one side, the deva spoke this verse before the Blessed One:
    Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus the fear of death, Let's make merit that will bring us bliss.

    [The Blessed One replied:]
    Life but leads to doom. Our time is short. From Decay there's naught can keep us safe. Contemplating thus this fear of death, Scorn such worldly bait, seek final peace.

  8. #8
    Forums Member Victorious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    148
    Sorry for posting a sutta without commenting. What I meant to say was that sometimes the word merit is used in different ways.

    Worldly merit and "Merit" on the path.

    Accumulating worldly merit (which is not wrong in itself) does not mean that you will make progress on the path.

    So the King might be asking how much worldly merit have I gained? To which the Bodhidharma answers from his point of view in accordance with the path to nibbana: No merit whatsoever.

    Just like the Thatagatha is answering the deva in the sutta above.

    Just a thought. It is difficult to say without reading the source.

    /Victor

  9. #9
    Forums Member Rodsent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Sacramento CA USA
    Posts
    52
    Ok that makes it a lot clearer for me, that the intention determines the karmic effect and not necessarily what one makes it look like one the outside. Thank You

  10. #10
    Previous Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Posts
    20
    My 2 cents on this is that he means there is no merit in Zen practice. There is nothing to be attained, and there is no one to attain it even if there were. There is no gain and there is no loss either. Further more, there is no birth and there is no death. Until we wake up, our minds make everything in the universe, even death and birth. Figuring any of this stuff out on a conceptual or intellectual level is just not gonna happen. It has to be experienced, just as to get to the meaning of an apple one needs to eat the apple. Then we "know".

    I was once very confused about the term "emptiness" in a book. I still am, but that's another story. I sorta, kinda knew what the author was talking about, yet the more I read the more confusing it got. Finally, after searching for ages on the internet, I found something that really put it into perspective. It seems that someone else had been having this problem, so they took it to their teacher. The teacher said they had no doubt they were confused, because if you thought about emptiness too hard your head would probably explode!

    When I read that I laughed so hard that I had to put the book down to wipe my eyes dry. He was saying that one attains the meaning of emptiness when one attains emptiness. In other words, when there was no one to figure it out, then it got figured out. Trying to think my way into it was not only NOT the solution, it was the problem itself. I just thought, darn, why didn't someone tell me this sooner. It could have saved me a lot of fruitless thinking and self created suffering. So I just threw the book aside and said, OK! So much for that. On to the next thing. Letting go is wonderful.
    Last edited by steve marino; 13 Sep 18 at 06:19.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Mon, 11:47 PM Tue, 1:47 AM Tue, 7:47 AM Tue, 1:17 PM Tue, 3:47 PM Tue, 6:47 PM