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Deeds of Merit

Deeds of Merit

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Published by Alan Weller
Deeds of Merit by Sujin Boriharnwanaket
Deeds of Merit by Sujin Boriharnwanaket

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Published by: Alan Weller on Jul 13, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/21/2013

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1
 Preface
“Are we born to work, to eat, to sleep, to be absorbed in all the sense objectsand then to die, or is our goal a life according to the principles of the Dhamma,the Buddha’s teaching?”
This is a question posed by Ms. Wandhana to Ms. Sujin. This book consists of conversations about the practical application of the Buddha’s teachingsbetween Ms. Sujin Boriharnwanaket and Ms. Wandhana Thippewan.The Buddha explains that the source of wholesomeness is consciousness, inPåli: citta. There are many different moments of cittas, which arise and fallaway, succeeding one another. Cittas may be wholesome, kusala,unwholesome, akusala, or neither wholesome nor unwholesome. We shouldknow when the citta is kusala citta and when akusala citta so that we are ableto develop what is kusala. Ms. Sujin explains:
“For someone who knows what kusala is, kusala citta has the opportunity toarise more often than for someone who does not know.”
The three main principles of wholesomeness are: dåna or generosity, síla orgood moral conduct and bhåvanå or mental development. These are to bedeveloped with the purpose of eliminating defilements. All three parts of theTipiìaka, the Buddhist scriptures, namely the “Vinaya” or Book of Disciplinefor the monks, the “Suttanta” or Discourses and the “Abhidhamma” or higherteaching on ultimate realities, point to this goal. The commentary to the firstbook of the “Abhidhamma”, the “Atthasåliní(“Expositor”), explains in detailabout kusala cittas and states that there are ten meritorious actions which canbe classified under dåna, síla and bhåvanå (Book I, Part IV, Ch VIII, 157-161).This book deals in detail with these ten meritorious actions. Ms. Wandhanabrings forward how difficult it is to be intent on wholesome deeds when onehas to face the many problems inherent in daily life. Ms. Sujin explains theimportance of seeing the benefit of kusala and the disadvantage of akusala.One has to develop understanding of the phenomena arising in one’s daily lifeso that there are conditions for the elimination of defilements.Ms. Sujin has a wide knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures and frequently quotes from them. However, theoretical knowledge of them is not enough.She stresses time and again that knowledge gained from listening to theteachings and reflection about them should be a foundation for thedevelopment of direct understanding of the realities presenting themselvesthrough the six doorways of the senses and the mind. She helps people to
 
The Buddha’s Teaching on Wholesome Deeds
2
develop this kind of understanding which leads to the goal of the teachings:the elimination of all that is unwholesome and impure. Her radio talks arebroadcasted all over Thailand and also in Cambodia.Summarizing the ten meritorious actions, they are:giving, transference of one’s merit and appreciation of someone else’skusala, which are ways of dåna, generosity,abstention from akusala, paying respect to those who deserve it andhelping, which are ways of síla,the development of calm, listening to the Dhamma and explaining it, andthe development of right understanding, which are ways of bhåvanå,mental development.There is another meritorious action which can go together with all kinds of kusala, namely, the correction of one’s views. Seeing kusala as kusala andakusala as akusala is one way of correction of one’s views, but there are many degrees of it, as we shall see in chapter 2.I have added footnotes to the text with explanations of different terms which are used in order to facilitate the reading of this book. For thequotations from the suttas I have mostly used the English translation of thePåli Text Society. It is with deep appreciation of Ms. Sujin’s guidance that Ioffer the translation of this book to the readers. I also wish to express my appreciation to the “Dhamma Study and Propagation Foundation” and to thepublisher Alan Weller who made the printing of this book possible.
 
3
Chapter 1
Generosity 
Wandhana:
We can understand that generosity, in Påli: dåna, is wholesome,but in our daily life we can have doubts about the practice of generosity. Forpeople who are well off and who are glad to give things away for the benefitand happiness of others it is not difficult to practise generosity. But people who have barely enough money for their own needs have little opportunity forgenerosity, they are not able to give things away. How can they practisegenerosity? If they would give things to others there would not be anythingleft for themselves.
Sujin:
Everybody can just do what he is able to according to his status and thecircumstances he is in. Someone may be doing more than he is able to, whereas someone else may be lax in generosity. In both cases the result willbe worry and distress. Are there certain things which you like very much?
Wandhana:
I have a watch which I like very much because I use it to know what time it is. I look at it very often.
Sujin:
If you would give it away to someone else would you regret it very much?
Wandhana:
I would regret it for a long time.
Sujin:
Each time we give something away we should know whether, as aconsequence, few kusala cittas and many akusala cittas arise, or whether thereare more kusala cittas arising than akusala cittas
1
. If there are more akusalacittas arising than kusala cittas while we give something away, I think that it would be better to give something else which can be a condition for thearising of more kusala cittas than akusala cittas.People who do not have any understanding of cause and result in life may make a great effort to give, or, on the contrary, they may have no inclinationto give at all. If they are ignorant of cause and result and if they have nounderstanding of the kusala cittas or akusala cittas which arise after thegiving, they will either be overdoing generosity or, on the other hand, benegligent. In both cases there will be sorrow afterwards.
Wandhana:
How can one be lax in generosity?
1Kusala citta: wholesome moment of consciousness. Akusala citta: unwholesome momentof consciousness.

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