or Dedication of Merits
means skills. When you have skills you can share them with others.
In the ordinary sense of the word, "merits" means
that which you can sell to or buy from others. You are promoted
in your job or academic level according to your merits. Similarly,
in the spiritual field, the things that you do to promote your
peace and happiness are called meritorious acts. It is these
acts that elevate your spiritual level and lead to the attainment
of enlightenment. These spiritual merits are committed with
a pure state of mind which follows you as your own shadow which
never leaves you. When you do vandana you do it with a pure
state of mind. You admire and appreciate the qualities of the
Triple Gem and wish to emulate and adopt them in your own life.
When you make such conscious effort to espouse them your mind
creates room for them and you endeavour to live a life similar
to those noble ones who are the embodiments of peace and happiness.
these noble qualities you wish to share them with your dear
ones, known ones and even unknown ones. Sharing what you highly
appreciate and admire with others is a very generous and compassionate
act. Therefore in Buddhist tradition sharing merits with others
is also a meritorious deed which is called the dedication of
merit. Rejoicing in other's merits also is considered to be
meritorious. This means you support and promote the wholesome
thoughts, words and deeds of yourself as well as those of others.
As you do this with pure intention, this kind of wholesome deed
is called wholesome kamma. What you really do in your vandana
is make an effort to cultivate the thought of practicing the
Noble Eightfold Path. By accepting the Triple Gem as your only
guides and determining to practice the precepts you lay the
foundation of morality. By contemplating the qualities of the
Triple Gem, reflecting on the nature of all conditioned things
and reciting the verse on Right Concentration, you develop the
spiritual atmosphere to take steps in the practice of meditation.
All these are meritorious thoughts.
of deceased relatives people perform numerous merit-sharing
ceremonies in order to purify their own minds. They may give
something to religious places or to the poor, observe the precepts
or teach the Dhamma. Some people may even become ordained for
a short period of time and stay in monasteries. Having done
one or more of these things relatives or friends perform a ceremony
in seven days, three months, or one year in memory of the deceased.
ceremony starts the lay people fill a pot with clean water and
keep it before them during the chanting. They also have two
bowls, a smaller bowl inside a larger one. Towards the end of
the ceremony relatives or friends of the deceased pour water
from a pitcher or tea-pot into an empty bowl placed in a larger
bowl saying "may my/our departed relatives share these
merits." (idam no natinam hotu sukhita hontu natayo.)
They let the water overflow into the smaller bowl. Symbolically
overflowing water signifies the generosity of living relatives
or friends. Water represents life, for there is life where water
is. The water in this ceremony also represents the merits without
which none can be peaceful and happy just as without water none
is able to survive. Just as water gives beings life, meritorious
deeds give beings vitality to live. The empty cup represents
the deceased relative or friend who is empty of happiness. Just
as the cup fills up with water, so the minds of the deceased
will be filled with joy and happiness after sharing the merits.
Of course, not all the deceased will be in a position to share
our merits. Only those who are born in an unfortunate state
of existence called "spirits who subsist on the offerings
of others" can share our merits. During the merit-sharing
ceremony verses are recited by monks or nuns at the end of the
pouring of the water into the empty cup.
ceremony, according to the Tirokuddha Sutta, was introduced
by the Buddha himself in order to help King Bimbisara of Magadha
in sharing merits with his deceased relatives who had been reborn
among the spirits who subsist on the offerings of others.