Translated by Nina van Gorkom
(This book is not yet published in print form)
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PrefaceAre we born to work, to eat, to sleep, to be absorbed in all the sense objects and then to die, or is our goal a life according to the principles of the Dhamma, the Buddhas teaching?
This is a question posed by Ms. Wandhana to Ms. Sujin. This book consists of conversations about the practical application of the Buddhas teachings between Ms. Sujin Boriharnwanaket and Ms. Wandhana Thippewan.
The Buddha explains that the source of wholesomeness is consciousness, in Paali: citta. There are many different moments of cittas, which arise and fall away, succeeding one another. Cittas may be wholesome, kusala, unwholesome, akusala, or neither wholesome nor unwholesome. We should know when the citta is kusala citta and when akusala citta so that we are able to develop what is kusala. Ms. Sujin explains:
For someone who knows what kusala is, kusala citta has the opportunity to arise more often than for someone who does not know.
The three main principles of wholesomeness are: daana or generosity, siila or good moral conduct and bhaavanaa or mental development. These are to be developed with the purpose of eliminating defilements. All three parts of the Tipi.taka, the Buddhist scriptures, namely the Vinaya or Book of Discipline for the monks, the Suttanta or Discourses and the Abhidhamma or higher teaching on ultimate realities, point to this goal. The commentary to the first book of the Abhidhamma, the Atthasaalinii (Expositor), explains in detail about kusala cittas and states that there are ten meritorious actions which can be classified under daana, siila and bhaavanaa (Book I, Part IV, Ch VIII, 157-161). This book deals in detail with these ten meritorious actions. Ms. Wandhana brings forward how difficult it is to be intent on wholesome deeds when one has to face the many problems inherent in daily life. Ms. Sujin explains the importance of seeing the benefit of kusala and the disadvantage of akusala. One has to develop understanding of the phenomena arising in ones daily life so 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 the teachings and reflection about them should be a foundation for the development of direct understanding of the realities presenting themselves through the six doorways of the senses and the mind. She helps people to 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 are braodcasted all over Thailand and also in Cambodia.
Summarizing the ten meritorious actions, they are:
giving, transference of ones merit and appreciation of someone elses kusala, which are ways of daana, generosity,
abstention from akusala, paying respect to those who deserve it and helping, which are ways of siila,
the development of calm, listening to the Dhamma and explaining it, and the development of right understanding, which are ways of bhaavanaa, mental development.
There is another meritorious action which can go together with all kinds of kusala, namely, the correction of ones views. Seeing kusala as kusala and akusala as akusala is one way of correction of ones 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 the quotations from the suttas I have mostly used the English translation of the Pali Text Society. It is with deep appreciation of Ms. Sujins guidance that I offer the translation of this book to the readers. I also wish to express my appreciation to the Dhamma Study and Propagation Foundation and to the publisher Alan Weller who made the printing of this book possible.
The Buddhas Teaching on Wholesome Deeds
Wandhana: We can understand that generosity, in Paali: daana, is wholesome, but in our daily life we can have doubts about the practice of generosity. For people who are well off and who are glad to give things away for the benefit and happiness of others it is not difficult to practise generosity. But people who have barely enough money for their own needs have little opportunity for generosity, they are not able to give things away. How can they practise generosity? If they would give things to others there would not be anything left for themselves.
Sujin: Everybody can just do what he is able to according to his status and the circumstances 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 will be worry and distress.
Are there certain things which you like very much?
W. : 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.
S. : If you would give it away to someone else would you regret it very much?
W. : I would regret it for a long time.
S. : Each time we give something away we should know whether, as a consequence, few kusala cittas and many akusala cittas arise, or whether there are more kusala cittas arising than akusala cittas [1. If there are more akusala cittas 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 the arising 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 inclination to give at all. If they are ignorant of cause and result and if they have no understanding of the kusala cittas or akusala cittas which arise after the giving, they will either be overdoing generosity or, on the other hand, be negligent. In both cases there will be sorrow afterwards.
W. : How can one be lax in generosity?
S. : Someone is lax if he has misgivings about giving anything at all, and then he has very little kusala by way of generosity. Or, if he is able to give he only gives as little as possible and that very seldom. Such a person does not understand that at each moment of generosity there is elimination of avarice and of clinging to possessions, which are defilements accumulated in the citta.
W. Suppose I would give away everything I have in order to eliminate defilements, is that exaggerated?
S. : It all depends on the status and position of people. Someone who is a monk has left the household life and all amenities of the laymans life. If a monk receives more than he can use himself he should be generous towards his fellowmonks and give away things such as robes, almsfood or other requisites which can be of use to them. For the monk this kind of generosity is not exaggerated. In the case of laypeople it is different. Those who have accumulated the inclination to practise the way of kusala which is generosity and who see the benefit of giving as a means to eliminate defilements, will seize each opportunity to develop generosity. After they have performed deeds of generosity they have no regret, no doubt about their deeds; they are not troubled, no matter what happens to them. The reason is that their intention to be generous is pure at the moments before they give, while they are actually giving and after they have given, thus, at these three periods of time the intention or volition is wholesome [2. In the case of such people there is no exaggeration in generosity, no matter how much they give, because there are, on account of their giving, no akusala cittas arising afterwards. Whereas, when someones citta is not firmly established in kusala, regret or worry may arise after his deed of generosity. He is disheartened and troubled, there are more akusala cittas arising than kusala cittas. Such a person is doing more than he is able to, he is overstraining himself.
W. : If we compare the two kinds of persons, the one who gives and has no regret afterwards and the one who gives and has regret afterwards, is it not true that the giving in the first case is more beneficial?
S. : The benefit or result of generosity is greater if the intention to give is pure at three periods of time, namely: when one makes the decision to give, at the moment of giving and after one has given. The reason is that there are more kusala cittas arising and the kusala citta is purer.
However, the best way of giving is giving without expectation of any result, no expectation to acquire anything for oneself, such as possessions, honour or praise one believes is due to oneself. If someone gives because he knows that giving is beneficial, something that ought to be done, there is no lobha, attachment, no expectation of result in the form of acquiring things for oneself.
W. : The subject of daana, generosity, is very detailed, very subtle. For instance, some people give ugly things, some give ordinary things whereas others give excellent things. What is the result people will receive in each of these three cases?
S. : In the case of someone who gives something which is less valuable or less beautiful than what he possesses or uses himself, there is generosity of a slave (dasa daana). The person who gives is a slave of attachment. He is not yet able to give things away which are just as good as or more excellent than the things he has himself. When there is an opportunity for giving he will only give what is inferior to or less beautiful than what he uses himself or likes to have himself, because he still clings to his possessions. When he receives the result of his deed by way of the experience of an object through eyes, ears, nose, tongue or body [3, this result will be inferior, because kamma produces its appropriate result .
W. : What is the result for those who give things which are of the same quality as what they have themselves or use themselves, thus, not more excellent than nor inferior to what they possess themselves?
S.: The giving away of things which are equal to or of the same value as one has oneself or uses oneself is generosity as a friend (sahaaya daana). When such a person receives the result of his deed by way of the experience of an object through eyes, ears, nose, tongue or body, this result will be fairly good but not extraordinary good, in accordance with that kamma.
W. : I have seen with my own eyes people who give things away which are more excellent than what they use themselves. A nephew of mine bought some oranges and those which were of good quality he did not eat himself, but, instead, he offered them all to the monks. For himself there were just some remainders which were not so good. What is the result he will receive?
S. : Giving things which are more excellent than those one has or uses himself is generosity of a master (daana pati). The person who gives is a master in giving, not a slave of clinging to possessions. If someone is still a slave of clinging, of attachment to things which are good, which are of excellent quality, he will not be able to give. The result of giving excellent things is the acquiring of excellent things or the experience of objects through the senses which are extraordinarily good. Such result is in accordance with kamma, the cause.
W. : The result of kamma has to be like that.
S. : When we give things which are of good quality, which are beautiful, very special and hard to find, the receiver must be delighted and thrilled. When we see that they are happy we will join in their happiness and rejoice as well. The citta which arises while we are giving something which causes such delight for the receiver, is happy and pure; our joy is greater than when we would give ordinary things or things which are inferior to what we use or have ourselves. When such kamma produces its result, we receive excellent things which cause us to be thrilled, just as the things of superior quality we gave to someone else caused joy and delight. Can you notice the difference between the moments of giving away ordinary things, not of superior quality, and giving away very special things?
W. : I feel the difference. Comparing the degrees of happiness arising in these two cases, I find that there is less joy when I give ordinary things than when I give very special things.
S. : In the Gradual Sayings (Book of the Fives, Ch V, Rajah Mu~n~na, 4, The Giver of good things) we read that the Buddha said to Ugga, who gave him excellent things:
Who gives what is pleasant shall gain what is pleasant... [4
W. : People who have day in day out barely enough for their own use will not be able to perform deeds of generosity. How can they develop kusala?
S. : The word kusala refers to the nature of the citta which is good and beautiful, and such citta brings a pleasant result, thus, it causes us to receive what is pleasant. When someones citta is wholesome there are no attachment, anger, ignorance or jealousy, no pride, conceit or other defilements arising at that moment. Even if someone has no things he can give away there can be kusala citta. There are many other kinds of kusala besides the giving away of things.
W. : Thus, there can also be the development of kusala without necessarily giving things away. If that is true, so much the better. In my daily life I often hear people say that they can hardly obtain enough for their own living. In that case it is difficult to develop the way of kusala which is daana, generous giving; it seems that there is no way to do that. With regard to the accumulation of wholesome qualities and wholesome conduct, people often have to hear the admonition: Dont have attachment, anger or ignorance. What should we do to prevent the arising of defilements?
S. : It is important to know the characteristic of the citta which is not kusala, and to know at which moment it arises. If we do not know the characteristic of akusala citta we may erroneously believe that at the moments we do not commit bad deeds through body or speech there must be kusala cittas.
W. : People usually think in that way.
S. : I would like to come back once again for a moment to the subject of daana, generosity, because it clarifies the meaning of kusala. At the moment of giving away things the citta is kusala. However, at the moments of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and the experience of tangible object, there tend to be on account of the object which is experienced like or dislike, and these are akusala. There are not all the time kusala cittas with generosity, but even at the moments we are not actually giving away things we can continue to develop generosity, which is conditioned by the acts of generosity we have performed. We can transfer our kusala to others by letting them know about our good deeds so that they, in their turn, can have kusala cittas with appreciation of our good deeds. They rejoice in the kusala we have performed. When we make known our kusala to others, we perform a deed of generosity which is called transference of merit, in Paali: pattidaana. Thus, if one has performed deeds of generosity there is an opportunity to have kusala cittas arising once again by transference of merit, by helping others to have kusala cittas with appreciation of ones good deeds.
W. : Thus, if one gives something away just once it can be a condition for the arising of many more kusala cittas afterwards, both for the person who has given himself and for others who have appreciation of the good deed of the giver.
S. : The person who did not perform wholesome deeds himself, but who rejoices in the wholesome deeds of someone else, has kusala cittas, cittas without attachment, anger, jealousy or other defilements. The appreciation of someone elses kusala is another way of kusala. Its arising is conditioned by the kusala of someone else. This way of kusala is called in Paali: pattanumodana [5. At such a moment there is kusala citta with anumodana, appreciation of someone elses kusala. Therefore, even if someone cannot perform a wholesome deed himself he can still have kusala citta. When he has cittas without jealousy and when he rejoices in someone elses wholesome deed, his cittas are kusala cittas without necessarily giving away things himself to someone else.
Besides the above mentioned ways of kusala there is still another way. When we have performed a deed of generosity there can again be kusala cittas afterwards. We can reflect on the daana or generous deed we have performed with cittas which are calm and pure. Thus, when someone has accumulated the inclination and habit to perform deeds of generosity, and he reflects time and again on his deeds, the cittas will be more and more peaceful, pure and steadfast in kusala. Some people can have steadfastness in kusala and calm to the degree of access-concentration [6. This is the development of tranquil meditation, samatha, with recollection of generosity (caagaanusati) as meditation subject [7.
W. : If one knows this one will not neglect any opportunity for kusala citta. Then we will not have cittas accompanied by attachment, aversion and ignorance, we will not be overwhelmed by jealousy of someone elses good deeds. When I reflect on this, I feel that the performance of such kind of kusala does not cost us any money. We only have to try to remove defilements, akusala dhammas, from the citta, but if people do not know the way to develop kusala it will be difficult to do this. It is difficult if they do not see that defilements are dangerous and ugly, and that they should be eradicated, or if they do not know yet the way to eliminate defilements.
S. : People who think that they cannot give away useful things to others because they have barely enough for themselves, should consider the following: although they cannot perform the kind of kusala which is giving, they can still develop wholesomeness, because generosity is not limited to giving things which cost money. Whenever someone shares what he possesses for the benefit of others, no matter he gives only a few things or many things, no matter they are beautiful or of little value, there is kusala citta and it is strong. It is strong kusala because it can arise even if someone has only a few possessions.
We read in the Kindred Sayings (I, Sagaathaa vagga, I, The Devas, Ch 4, The Satullapa Group, 3, How blest!) that devas visited the Buddha while he was staying near Saavatthii, at the Jeta Grove. They praised giving:
How blest a thing, dear sir, is it to give!
From avarice and from frivolity
No charitable gift of alms does come.
By him who would have merits sure reward,
By him who can discern, gifts should be given.
How blest a thing, dear sir, is it to give!
Truly, blest the gift though from a scanty store.
Some from their scanty means bestow their coin,
Some of their plenty have no wish to give,
The offerings given from a scanty source,
Measured, with gifts of thousand pieces rank.
How blest a thing, dear sir, is it to give!
Truly, blest the gift though from a scanty store.
Of the believer [8 too how blest the gift!
Giving and fighting are alike, it is said;
A handful of good men may down a host.
And if we give believing in result,
Good luck is ours from good to others done....
The Buddha compares giving to the fighting of soldiers. Soldiers who are brave, although few in number, can conquer those who are many, but who are cowards. People who have only a few possessions or things of little value, can, when confidence in kusala [9 arises, give generously to others. They are like soldiers who are few in number but brave.
Do you remember the story of Anaathapindika [10?
W. : I remember that he had great confidence in generous giving.
S. : Although Anaathapindika had, at one time, become poor, the Buddha taught him Dhamma about generosity, he explained to him in detail about the ways of giving. This story is very interesting. We read in the Gradual Sayings (IV, Book of the Nines, Ch II, 10, Velaama) :
Once, when the Exalted One was dwelling near Saavatthii, at Jeta Grove, in Anaathapindikas Park, the householder, Anaathapindika, visited him and after saluting him sat down at one side.
And the Exalted One addressed Anaathapindika thus:
Is alms given in your family, householder?
Yes, lord, ... but it consists of a coarse mess of broken rice grains together with sour gruel.
Householder, whether one gives coarse alms or choice, if one gives casually, without thought, not with ones own hand, give but orts [11 and with no view to the future [12 : then, wheresoever that almsgiving bears fruit, his mind will not turn to the enjoyment of excellent food, of fine raiment, of rich carriages, to the enjoyment of the excellencies of the five senses; and ones sons and ones daughters, ones slaves, messengers and workfolk will have no desire to listen to one, nor lend an ear, nor bring understanding to bear (on what one says). And wherefore? Such is the result, householder, of deeds done casually.
But whether one gives coarse alms or choice, householder, if one gives considerately, after taking thought, with ones own hand, gives other than orts and with a view to the future; then, wheresoever that almsgiving bears fruit, his mind will turn to the enjoyment of good food, of fine raiment, of rich carriages, of the excellences of the five senses; and ones sons and ones daughters, ones slaves, messengers and workfolk will desire to listen to one, will lend an ear and bring understanding to bear (on what one says). And wherefore? Such is the result, householder, of deeds done considerately....
W. : This story is very subtle. It deals not only with confidence in wholesomeness (saddhaa), but also with many other factors, such as respect as well as awareness and understanding of kamma and its result.
S. : People may own very little, but if they have confidence in kusala they are able to share the few things they have with others. There is at such a moment purity of citta, they are considerate and respectful towards others. If someone has nothing he can share with other people, he can give even left over food to an animal, with a citta full of lovingkindness, with eagerness to help other beings. At such a moment there is kusala which is daana, generosity.
W. : If we have clear understanding of generosity, we can remember that, even when we do not possess things which are as valuable as those of some other people, there is still opportunity to practise generosity and such kusala is not of a lesser degree than the generosity of those who have many possessions.
Correction of ones Views
W. : It may happen that relatives and close friends who went away for a year or more have returned and unexpectly visit us. They do this just because they wish to show us their thoughtfulness and feelings of friendship. How do we feel about this? It may happen that we are the persons who receive, that we receive their goodwill and friendship, or that we sometimes receive presents as a token that they are thinking of us and wish our happiness and joy. It may also happen that we ourselves give joy to our relatives or friends. I believe that for the person who has an opportunity to give there are many cittas with gladness and joy. This is an example which is easy to understand and which shows us that sometimes our happiness is caused by our conduct and the attitude we take towards the people we associate with in our daily life.
Joy arises for the receiver as well as for the giver, depending on the occasion. Besides happiness caused by giving there is also the joy in the friendship people feel for one another. One of the principles of Dhamma taught by the Buddha is that generosity is one of the good deeds, kusala kamma, which should be developed. The reason is that a deed of generosity has as its source kusala citta with loving kindness, mettaa. By developing this kind of kusala we wish to make someone else happy.
The Buddha taught different levels of kusala in accordance with the ability of people to practise kusala. As regards generosity, for example, people who have things they can give away and who have confidence in kusala, can develop this kind of kusala depending on their situation and the extent of their confidence. People, however, who do not possess things they can give away lack the opportunity to eradicate defilements by deeds of generosity. I would like to ask you whether it is true that there are other ways of kusala besides the giving away of things to others.
S. : There are other ways of kusala, because kusala depends on the citta, kusala citta is the citta which is beautiful. Whenever a beautiful citta arises there is kusala at such a moment.
W. : I will tell you about an experience I had before, because this was an occasion for feelings of joy. A friend of mine told me about a poor family living next door. The father was very sick, paralyzed, and the mother was the only person who could earn a living in order to bring up the children, but she had very little to support her family. My friend tried to help those people by giving them food, rice and medicine. He took the father to the doctor and also to the temple to visit the monks. When I heard this story I rejoiced in his kusala. He did things which should be admired and praised. Thus, because of what I heard kusala cittas arose.
S. : That is true. Thinking in the right way, right understanding of realities is kusala. It is wholesome to know what is good and what is evil. It is wholesome to know that attachment, aversion and ignorance are akusala, and that non-attachment, non-aversion, non-delusion, abstaining from hurting or harming others, honesty and gratefulness are kusala. Knowing this is kusala, because it is right understanding of realities which are wholesome and of those which are unwholesome.
W. : When I hear this I feel that this kind of kusala can arise very easily. Just knowing what is right and what is wrong is kusala already.
S. : For someone who knows what kusala is, kusala citta has the opportunity to arise more often than for someone who does not know what kusala is. Besides, we do not have to wait for a specific moment to have kusala citta.
W. : I have doubts about the subject of good and evil. Everybody knows that attachment, anger and ignorance are bad, and that honesty and gratefulness are good. But why does it happen that, inspite of knowing this, unwholesome cittas often arise and that we still commit deeds which are not good?
S. : The reason is that the understanding of kusala and akusala is still weak. Such understanding arises less often than defilements, akusala dhammas. So long as one does not know the truth and one does not understand the characteristics of different realities as they are, namely, citta, cetasika and ruupa (physical phenomena) [13 , including the ruupas of our body as well as those outside, there are conditions all the time for the arising of happiness and sorrow, like and dislike. Realities which often arise are stronger than those which seldom arise. Therefore, we should always carefully investigate what is good and what is evil, so that we have no doubt about this. When we have clear understanding of kusala and akusala, we can develop more wholesomeness, we can develop kusala dhammas so that these become more powerful and are able to gradually eliminate defilements.
W. : I understand that the way leading to the elimination of defilements are the meritorious actions, in Paali: pu~n~na kiriya vatthu, which are the foundation of the development of kusala. Those actions can be classified as daana, generosity, siila, morality, and bhaavanaa, mental development.
S. : Daana, siila and bhaavanaa are the main principles of kusala which are developed with the purpose of eliminating defilements. They can be classified as threefold, but if they are dealt with in detail there are actually ten meritorious actions.
W. : If we know about these ten we have even more opportunities to develop kusala.
S. : There are ten meritorious actions, but they are included in the threefold classification of daana, siila and bhaavanaa, because they are connected with these three which are the main principles; all kinds of kusala are supporting conditions for daana, siila and bhaavanaa.
W. : You have explained that right view is understanding of what is good and what is evil; it is understanding that attachment and aversion are akusala, that honesty and gratefulness are kusala. Which of the ten kinds of meritorious actions is this kind of understanding?
S. : It is the kind of kusala which is correction of ones views, in Paali: ditthiujukamma.
W. : I never heard about this kind of kusala. The Paali term is hard to remember, but if one knows the translation and its meaning one can remember it.
S. : The term ditthiujukamma is composed of ditthi, view, uju, straight, and kamma, action. Thus, this way of kusala is causing ones view to be straight, correct, in accordance with the characteristics of realities. But there are many degrees of right view of the characteristics of realities.
W. : As to the term uju, straight, this also occurs in the word ujupa~nipanno, he who has entered on the right way, and this is said of those who are enlightened. One may recite this word every night, before going to sleep, when paying respect to the Triple Gem, or else one may have heard it in the chanting hall of the monks. The words ujupa~nipanno savaka sangho, the community of the disciples who entered on the right way, refer to the virtues of the members of the Sangha, the disciples who practise in the right way. They do not deceive, they are not dishonest or crooked as regards actions through body, speech or mind. You said that there are many degrees of correction of ones views, is that right?
S. : There are many degrees of right view. In accordance with the degree of right view there are many degrees of kusala citta. One degree of right view is knowing what is good and what is evil; for example, knowing that lying is unwholesome and that honesty and gratefulness are wholesome. Another degree of right view is understanding that one should eliminate defilements by deeds of generosity. One performs such deeds with the purpose of eliminating stinginess and clinging to possessions. Another degree of right view is understanding that one should observe siila, moral conduct, that one should abstain from unwholesome actions through body and speech, with the purpose of eliminating defilements such as attachment, aversion and ignorance. Another degree of right view is understanding that one should subdue the defilements which cause the citta to be distressed and agitated. Another degree again of right view is understanding that pa~n~naa, wisdom, should be developed with the purpose of completely eradicating defilements.
If people are not able to know the characteristics of wholesome realities and of unwholesome realities by their own discrimination, they must depend on listening to the Dhamma and on studying the Dhamma which the Buddha taught after he realised it at the attainment of enlightenment.
We read in the Dialogues of the Buddha (III, 33, The Recital ), under the Threes (item 43) of the Recital :
Three kinds of knowledge:
cinta-mayaa-pa~n~naa, pa~n~naa accomplished by thinking,
sutta-mayaa-pa~n~naa, pa~n~naa accomplished by listening,
bhaavanaa-mayaa-pa~n~naa, pa~n~naa accomplished by mental
Of the ten kinds of meritorious actions, three kinds have been classified under daana, three under siila and three under bhaavanaa, and these are altogether nine. With regard to the correction of ones views, this can be considered under the aspect of daana, of siila or of bhaavanaa, depending on the particular kind of wholesomeness it goes together with.
W. : The subject of the ten meritorious actions is very essential. If we have no understanding about them we do not know which different ways of wholesomeness there are, such as the meritorious action which is the correction of ones views.
S. : Correction of ones views, right understanding of each kind of reality, is a condition for the development of other ways of wholesomeness as well. Knowing, for example, that sincerity or honesty is beneficial, is a condition to see the disadvantage of lying and deceiving by body, speech or mind. When you see the disadvantage of what is unwholesome, you want to eliminate it, and in that way you accumulate what is wholesome. You accumulate wholesomeness such as daana, siila and bhaavanaa. It will become your nature to perform deeds of generosity, to observe moral conduct and to apply yourself to mental development, which includes the development of calm and the development of insight, vipassanaa.
W. : It seems that the different kinds of dhammas are interrelated and that they condition one another. Each reality which arises and appears is entirely dependant on conditions; wholesome and unwholesome accumulated inclinations, for example, are dependant on conditions. We have dealt with the subject of daana and with the ways of kusala connected with daana, namely the three kinds of meritorious deeds which are classified under daana.
S. : We have spoken about the kusala citta which performs deeds of generosity, daana, and this includes the giving away of things for the benefit and happiness of someone else. Moreover, we have discussed the transference of merit, pattidaana, that is, making known to others the kusala we have performed, so that they also can rejoice in our kusala. We have also spoken about the kusala citta which appreciates the kusala of someone else, about pattanumodana. The three kinds of meritorious deeds which are daana, giving, pattidaana, transference of merit, and pattanumodana daana, appreciation of someone elses kusala, support together generosity, they are wholesome deeds which are accomplished by generous giving.
W. : We dealt already with four kinds of meritorious deeds, namely, correction of ones views, giving, transference of merit and the appreciation of someone elses kusala. Thus, there are six more kinds of meritorious deeds we have not yet discussed, namely, three ways of siila and three ways of mental development. However, I still have some questions about the transference of merit and the appreciation of someone elses kusala. As regards the transference of merit, which is making known the kusala we have performed to someone else so that he can appreciate it, do we transfer our kusala to someone who is still alive or to someone who has died?
S. : We can transfer merit to someone who is alive as well as to someone who has died. The dedication of kusala to someone else by letting him know about it, so that he can appreciate it, is a way of kusala. The person who has performed a wholesome deed has, after that wholesome deed, more kusala cittas: he has the wholesome intention (kusala cetanaa) to let someone else know about it and give him an opportunity to have kusala cittas with appreciation.
W. : But can transference of merit be a way of kusala if that person who knows about our kusala does not appreciate it?
S. : It is the intention or volition, cetanaa, which is kusala. The person who transfers merit has a wholesome intention when he makes known his good deed to someone else. If that person does not appreciate the wholesome deed of someone else and does not rejoice in it, he does not have kusala citta.
W. : How can we transfer merit to someone who has died?
S. : When we have performed a wholesome deed we can make the resolution to dedicate it to others by pouring water [14. Have you not seen this?
W. : I used to wonder why people would pour water. Can one dedicate ones kusala to others just without pouring water?
S. : If we pour water as well it is a condition for the citta to be steadfast in kusala, not to be agitated or distracted, and besides, it is a way of dedicating kusala to others by body, speech and mind. Sometimes we can transfer merit without pouring water, for example after we have listened to the Dhamma or explained the Dhamma to others. While we transfer merit we may fold our hands together and that is a way of dedicating our kusala to others by showing respect through body, speech and mind.
W. : Can everybody who has died have the opportunity to know about someone elses kusala and appreciate it?
S. : It depends on where he is born after his death [15. If he is born in a plane of existence where there is no opportunity for him to know about the kusala of the person who transfers merit, for example, in the human plane or in the animal world, he cannot have appreciation of the kusala that person performed.