Denisa wrote:I did lot of charity, especially towards poor people even before I became a Buddhist. But it never occurred to me: "how much merit I gain from this generosity? Is it big? Whether people recognize me for my generosity? What will I get in next life?" I did them because it helps someone in need, made them happy, and I felt wholesomely happy by letting go something I possess. Only after getting touched with Buddhism I saw a greater deal of emphasis on merit making. From my understanding on kamma, every action (in this case generosity) can create a result whether you worry about merit or not. I think if one crave for merit that will not serve the purpose of generosity/letting go, it would be more like a business transaction.
i agree and think that from the practice standpoint to be beneficial for the giver the giving must be devoid of egotistic motives
the theory of recipients of different degrees of worth, giving to whom endows with different amount of merit, is counterproductive in this respect, because it can corrupt minds of potential givers and help to enroot their conceit rather than uproot it, make them think of their own good while deciding to give rather than of the recipient's, make their decision selfish
I take this to mean that the Buddha was employing skillful means initially through spiritual materialism as a starting point. The last few sentences reveal his real intention which is to transcend the world.
Once, when the Buddha was dwelling near Savatthi at the Jeta Grove, the householder Anathapindika visited him and, after greeting him politely, sat down at one side.
The Exalted One addressed Anathapindika, “Are alms given in your house, householder?”
“Yes, Lord, alms are given by my family, but they consist only of broken rice and sour gruel.”
“Householder, whether one gives coarse or choice alms, if one gives with respect, thoughtfully, by one’s own hand, gives things tht are not leftovers, and with belief in the result of actions, then, wherever one is born as a result of having given with respect, the mind will experience pleasantness.”
“Long ago, householder, there lived a brahman named Velama who gave very valuable gifts. He gave thousands of bowls of gold, silver and copper, filled with jewels; thousands of horses with trappings; banners and nets of gold; carriages spread with saffron-colored blankets; thousands of milk-giving cows with fine jute ropes and silver milk pails; beds with covers od fleece, white blankets, embroidered coverlets, and with crimson cushions at the ends; lengths of cloth of the best flax, silk, wool and cotton. And how to describe all the food, sweets and syrups that he gave? They flowed like rivers.”
“Householder, who was the brahman who made those very valuable gifts? It was me.”
“But, when those gifts were given, householder, there were no worthy recipients. Although the brahman Velama gave such valuable gifts, if he had fed just one person of right view, the fruit of the latter deed would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed a hundred people of right view, the fruit of feeding a Once-returner would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed a hundred Sakadagamis, the fruit of feeding one Non-returner would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed a hundred Anagamis, the fruit of feeding one Arahat would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed a hundred Arahats, the fruit of feeding one Non-teaching Buddha would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed a hundred Paccekkabuddhas, the fruit of feeding a Perfect One, a Teaching Buddha, would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed a Sammasambuddha, the fruit of feeding the Order of monks with the Buddha at its head would have been greater.”
“…and though he fed the Sangha with the Buddha at its head, the fruit of building a monastery for the use of the Sangha would have been greater.”
“…and though he built a monastery for the monks, the fruit of sincerely taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha would have been greater.”
“…and though he sincerely took refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, the fruit of sincerely undertaking the Five Moral Precepts would have been greater.”
“…and though he sincerely undertook the Five Precepts, the fruit of developing (concentration on radiating) metta, even for just to the extent of a whiff of scent, would have been greater.”
“…and though he developed universal lovingkindness, the fruit of cultivating the awareness of anicca-even for the moment of a finger snap-would have been greater.”
Anguttara Nikaya, Navakanipata, Sutta 20
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.