About Spiritual CultivationBuddhism Your Questions Answered (171 FAQ)

Q&A 77. Transfer of merits and virtues

Q: Master Lu, as lay Buddhist practitioners, should we transfer merits and virtues when we recite Buddhist scriptures?

A:

  • We perform daily recitation and recite Little Houses on a regular basis. Should we transfer the merits and virtues thus obtained? It is best to act in accordance with karmic conditions.
  • Transferring merits and virtues is a major undertaking to practise giving. When you say that you are going to transfer merits and virtues to your karmic creditors from past lives or sentient beings who have affinity with the Buddha, that means you are going to transfer all the merits and virtues obtained from reciting sutras and mantras to all the beings across the heaven, earth and human realms to repay the four kinds of kindness above and ease the suffering of the three lower realms. This is a very powerful vow.
  • It is a great vow; it embodies a great fearless spirit. However, it also requires sufficient merits and virtues. Only if you have accrued a tremendous amount of wholesome conditions, merits and virtues can your transference be fulfilled.
    If you have not yet accumulated enough merits and virtues but regularly recite the Verse of Transference, it is similar to donating merits and virtues beyond your capacity. For example, if you work very hard and only earn $100, you can donate this money to help all the people in the world who are suffering from poverty. However, the amount of money that you can donate is too little, and the ghosts and spirits that you wish to save are too many. Not only are you not able to help them, but you would also end up with no money at all.
  • As Buddhist practitioners, we should aim to awaken ourselves and others. If you have the ability, then you should help and save others. If you do not have enough power yet, then you should save yourself first before you save others.
  • For practitioners of Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, when we perform daily recitations and recite Little Houses, the prayer we say before reciting sutras and mantras is in fact a form of transfer. It is a direct transfer: The merits and virtues will be directly transferred to the person for whom you recite. For example, if you recite for yourself, the merits and virtues will be directly transferred to yourself. It is simply a matter of a difference in transference methods.
    All acts of kindness must converge. Master Lu teaches us that only after attaining the necessary spiritual state can we make the resolve to do a greater transfer of merits and virtues and awaken sentient beings universally.
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