kc2dpt wrote:retrofuturist wrote:there are suttas that say an offering to an arahant yields greater merit to an offering to a non-arahant.
Do these suttas instructs us to give to a "plump arahant" before giving to a "starving beggar child"?
What does it mean to "yield greater merit"?
I'd like to take a closer look at the suttas you referenced.
This was said by the Lord...
"Bhikkhus, if beings knew, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would they allow the stain of meanness to obsess them and take root in their minds. Even if it were their last morsel, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared it, if there were someone to share it with. But, bhikkhus, as beings do not know, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they eat without having given, and the stain of meanness obsesses them and takes root in their minds."
If beings only knew —
So said the Great Sage —
How the result of sharing
Is of such great fruit,
With a gladdened mind,
Rid of the stain of meanness,
They would duly give to noble ones
Who make what is given fruitful.
Having given much food as offerings
To those most worthy of offerings,
The donors go to heaven
On departing the human state.
Having gone to heaven they rejoice,
And enjoying pleasures there,
The unselfish experience the result
Of generously sharing with others.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-026
"Any action performed with greed — born of greed, caused by greed, originating from greed: wherever one's selfhood turns up, there that action will ripen. Where that action ripens, there one will experience its fruit, either in this very life that has arisen or further along in the sequence.AN 3.33
What I understand this to mean is that there is greater merit in acting out of kindness than to act out of a desire to gain merit. So if one has a gift in hand which one is bringing to a temple for dana to an arahant, and one knows there will be plenty of food offered by others, then if one's heart so moves, there is greater merit to donate that packet of food to a starving refugee.
LXNDR wrote:Ramana Maharshi, an Indian saint of the XX century, would not eat food offerings from his devotees or meals if people who made his company at the moment weren't fed as well
The unusually high regard with which Saint Francis of Assisi is held has served to insulate him from any real criticism of the kind of sanctity that he embodied: a sanctity based, first and foremost, on his deliberate pursuit of poverty. This book offers a critique of Francis's “holy poverty” by considering its ironic relationship to the ordinary poverty of the poor.
While Francis's emphasis on voluntary poverty as the first step toward spiritual regeneration may have opened the door to salvation for wealthy Christians like himself, it effectively precluded the idea that the poor could use their own involuntary poverty as a path to heaven. In marked contrast to Francis's poverty, theirs was more likely to be seen by contemporaries as a symptom of moral turpitude.
Moreover, Francis's experiment in poverty had a potentially negative effect on the level of almsgiving directed toward the involuntary poor. Not only did the Franciscan abhorrence of money prevent the friars from assuming any significant role in alleviating urban poverty but their own mendicant lifestyle also put them in direct competition with the other kind of beggars for the charitable donations of the urban elite.
Though this work focuses on the idea of “holy poverty” as it appears in the earliest hagiographical accounts of the saint as well as Francis's own writings, its implications for the relationship between poverty as a spiritual discipline and poverty as a socioeconomic affliction extend to Christianity as a whole.
Dan74 wrote:LXNDR wrote:Ramana Maharshi, an Indian saint of the XX century, would not eat food offerings from his devotees or meals if people who made his company at the moment weren't fed as well
This merit issue is to me the most troubling one of traditional Buddhism across all schools. So we have lavish temples going up, fat monks and starving communities, no schools and hospitals, etc in Christianity, this issue pops up as well when Mary Magdalene brought expensive oil for Jesus and got scolded by the other disciples, but somehow in the present day, Christians are more on the side of the starving child with all the relief work, than the healthy arahat.
I don't discount the importance of donating to further the Dhamma, to help true cultivators. But as others have said it is both a question of intention and utility. The arahat will benefit little from an extra meal, but the starving child will benefit a great deal and will have a shot at liberation ! The donor's self seeking in trying to accrue merit will surely undermine any positive kamma that results. How could it be otherwise!