Monday, February 23, 2009

Where does the holiness come from?

I’d like to post a few questions. We all know Losar is coming and merits are supposed to multiply by 100 million times. It is only in the Tibetan tradition that we find people talking about how many specific times are merits multiplied. And even within the Tibetan tradition, only certain groups seem to …for very good reasons…speak about it more than others. This is to encourage people to make more merits for themselves.

However, many people seem to have the incorrect motivation when doing these good deeds on such holy days. Therefore, please allow me to point out a few things.

First, some people wait for holy days to come, then only make offerings, recite sutras, doing other good deeds. But someone argued that doing such good deeds on holy days indicates that you still have attachment to ego. Why? He argued that the reason is because you still think about “your merit” and “my merits”. As our merits multiply by 100 million times, so does our ego. So, how do we prevent this from happening? I think the person who said and pointed this to me has a point. It started me to think these questions: -

- Can you count or measure merits, eg. 1 merit, 2 merits, etc?
- How much is 1 unit, 2 units, 3 units of merits? 1 gram, 2 grams, … 1kg, 2 kg…?
- How much is 1 merit multiply by 1 time? 2 times? 3 times?
- Does the holiness of the holy day come from the sun? the moon? The calendar?
- Which calendar is more accurate? Tibetan, Chinese, Gregorian? For example, the day the Buddha achieved enlightenment is different according to different calendar.
- Does it really matter which calendar?
- Is it possible, then, to do these activities on a consistent basis regardless of what day, and still do them on holy days too? And thereby, in this way, we do not do these good deeds specifically only on holy days?
- Ultimately, where does the holiness of any holy day come from?
- Ultimately, what is merit?

So, this “guru” who taught this subtle point out to me on the correct way to make merits on holy days is really incredible. He is saying that once we find out the answer to the last 2 questions above, then only will we truly make incredible merits multiple on both holy and non-holy days. But for ordinary sentient beings, who have not found out the answer, I think it is still good to do offerings, recite sutras, etc on holy days even though it will be stained by ego-centric attachment to merits. It is only sentient beings that need merits, Buddhas do not. So, try not to think so much of how many times it will multiply and JUST DO IT. REJOICE in the Buddha’s miracles and virtues every single day. Not just on holy days. And the main point I am trying to share is: If it is a holy day, do not ignore it. Rejoice and do good deeds with a “let go” attitude.

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