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Q. I was advised to accumulate merit by masters. How can we accumulate merit? Can we accumulate it by saving a puppy from drowning or by cultivating the Buddha dharma?

Q. I was advised to accumulate merit by masters. How can we accumulate merit? Can we accumulate it by saving a puppy from drowning or by cultivating the Buddha dharma?

A. Merit refers to what is helpful to your attaining enlightenment. You should not mistake a good deed for merit. What you think can be accumulated or used up may be good karma but not true merit. True merit is to practise hard, or try to realise the true-Self, Emptiness.

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However, I don’t mean that you should not do good deeds such as saving a puppy from drowning or helping those in trouble. When you do such a good thing as saving a puppy from drowning, trying to see it as empty instead of being secretly proud is true merit. To cling to the idea that you did good is not merit at all but rather adds another strong illusion. This is against your intention to attain enlightenment by removing illusions. That’s why ancient masters would say, “Doing good is not as good as doing nothing.”

As stated earlier, trying to see everything as empty is true merit. However, if you cling to even true merit, it is not merit but just an illusion of merit. So, you should look upon true merit as empty as well.

Student: “How can I accumulate merit?”
Master: “Discard.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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