Sources of merit

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “There are these three grounds for meritorious activity. Which three? The ground for meritorious activity made of generosity, the ground for meritorious activity made of virtue, and the ground for meritorious activity made of development [meditation]. These are the three grounds for meritorious activity.”

Train in acts of merit
that bring long-lasting bliss —
develop generosity,
a life in tune,
a mind of good-will.
Developing these
three things
that bring about bliss,
the wise reappear
in a world of bliss
unalloyed.

— Iti 60, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

These verses create the image (for me) of three tall, strong trees, rooted in three different kinds of soil. And we are the soil! Within us we have all that’s necessary to grow a massive tree of generosity, a giant tree of virtuous actions, and a big tree of mental training. These trees are living things; they have seasons; they weather storms, and as the roots grow deeper, they are less and less troubled by inclement weather.

Not everyone is interested in training the mind with meditation techniques, but practicing generosity and guiding our actions in virtuous directions affects our mental states as a by-product. Even if we never sit in meditation, our confidence grows and we worry less. We are less often confused about what to do, and we understand that how we behave towards others and ourselves is more important than a pimple on our nose or someone’s unkind words. We can feel good, even blissful, in spite of prevailing conditions.

2 Comments

Filed under General, Generosity

2 responses to “Sources of merit

  1. It inspired me to meditate …..to train my mind.

  2. Nena

    Thank you for these beautiful posts. I always enjoy reading your words of wisdom. Many blessings to you. Satu.

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