“Respecting and making offerings to those with higher virtues has no merits”.
For example, bhikkhus belong to this category. They are the ones who mainly sustain the Buddha Sasana (especially in the old days, where there was no printed material available).
– Other than that bhikkhus are the symbols of Buddha Sasana. I pay respects to any bhikkhu because he represents Buddha Sasana.
– The Buddha has said, there will be a time towards the end of the Buddha Sasana, where a bhikkhu will not be wearing the yellow robe, but just having a yellow band around his wrist. He said that one would still get full benefits (merits) by making offerings to that “bhikkhu”.
Another aspect is that one should also respect those who teach moral values, even outside the Buddha Sasana. They COULD BE Bodhisattvas too. As a Bodhisattva, our Buddha had taught moral values to people many, many times in his past lives.