This talk was given during the White Tara Winter Retreat at Sravasti Abbey.
- The goodness that we create from dedicating merit is a practice of generosity
- When you give it away it doesn’t mean you don’t have it anymore
- Importance of rejoicing in generosity
- Dedicating the merit of all living beings
White Tara Retreat 39: Dedication of merit (download)
We’ve been talking about making dedication and dedicating merit. The goodness that we create is a practice of generosity. In the far-reaching practices it’s actually included in generosity as we give our body, our wealth, and our merit.
I remember when I was living in Singapore where the people grew up Buddhist. They really believe in karma and merit and things like that. Not like people in other countries, but the Singaporeans really believe in it. I was teaching one man how to mediate. At the end when I said, “Let’s dedicate the merit and imagine it going out to all the different sentient beings,” he looked at me with these big eyes. He said, “I have so little merit. I don’t want to give it away.” Like he’s really concerned about this because he knows he needs merit.
I said, “It’s okay. When you give it away it doesn’t mean you don’t have it anymore. It means that you are actually increasing it.” And, “That the effect of the merit won’t end until whatever you dedicate it for happens.” So that’s why I was saying the other day that we dedicate it for the enlightenment of all beings—because then that merit will keep having energy and be able to continue to bring good results.
We really have to think of it as a practice of generosity; and really believe that we created some merit and we created some goodness. We often talk about merit and we talk about karma. But when it actually comes to living like we believe in these things, “Well, I told a lie, what do you mean it’s going to be negative karma? I don’t really believe that.” Of course, when the other person lies to me, he creates negative karma! But when I lie to other people … do you really believe in negative karma? You see what I mean?
The same thing with dedicating the merit and really seeing that we create goodness by not only what we do and what we say, but especially what we think and what we feel. To rejoice at that and then to dedicate it for the welfare of all the living beings makes it a very big beautiful practice of generosity.
You’ll see at the end of most texts the great masters have written, that there are dedication verses. They realize, “Oh, maybe I created some merit writing this text and I want to dedicate it.” So, we do the same. We do it at the end of each session, and then especially in the evening it’s good to make a longer dedication of all the merit that we accumulated during the day.
When we dedicate, we dedicate not only our own merit and goodness but that of all other living beings as well. It becomes quite a wonderful practice of really looking out at the world and rejoicing, seeing how much goodness there is. Instead of, “Oh, this world is so miserable and nothing good happens and everybody’s selfish and woe is me.” To be able to look out and see how many sentient beings created merit today and rejoice at that and dedicate their merit, and also the merit of the past and the future. I mean, think big! So we’ll talk a little bit more about that next time, but this will get you going in that way.