Pattidana(transferring of merits) is the transferring of conditions?

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    • #19534
      upekkha100
      Participant

      The following questions are about these 2 posts:
      1) Transfer of Merits (Pattidāna) – How Does it Happen?

      2) Annantara and Samanantara Paccaya

      For some time I have misunderstood pattidana(transferring of merits) as transferring/sharing of one’s own good kamma beeja(which get generated after doing punnabhisankhara) with others.

      But from reading those 2 posts, that is not the case.

      Here is how I understood it:
      Our kamma beeja is our own, we cannot create that for others. We each create our own kamma beeja when we do abhisankhara. However, we can give the conditions for those good kamma beeja that others already have so that those good kamma beeja can come to fruition or ripen.

      My questions:
      1) Is transferring of merits the transferring of conditions?

      2) Is it wrong to think of pattidana(sharing of merits) as an act of triggering or activating the good kammic seeds that other sentient beings already have?

    • #19578
      Lal
      Keymaster

      This is an important question, probably for many people.

      Mind phenomena are different from material phenomena. One needs to be careful in applying material phenomena to mind phenomena.

      An example is given in the Tipitaka (of course I forget the name of the sutta!). A greedy brahmin one time explained to his sons why giving (dana) is of no use. He asked them to bring a sack of rice and started giving away portions to those who were present. At the end there was nothing left. So, he told his sons: “Do you see? I gave away what was in that sack of rice, and what do I have left? Nothing!”.

      One would of course gain NOTHING AT ALL if one’s gives with that mentality. The KAMMIC POWER is generated in the javana citta. And that kammic power is unseen. That is the hard part to understand. It is sort of like for someone from 200 years ago (who has time travelled to the present) to understand how a television works.

      • But I think you have experienced for yourself the power of javana citta in your metta meditation, as you mentioned before.
      • One may give away many “valuable things” without the “inner feelings/compassion” and may get nothing for it.
      • One may give away a little something with strong feelings and compassion, and will get a lot back in the future (especially if one was not thinking about such “returns”).

      Another thing to clarify is the difference between “conditions (paccaya)” and “causes (hetu)”.

      That kammic power that we talked about above, CANNOT become “causes” for another being. The “root causes” must be there in the person receiving. But pattidana can provide the conditions for cultivating those root causes. In a way, what it does is to make the mind of the person receiving “to a better state” for cultivating those existing causes. Those existing causes could be some “good kamma vipaka” accumulated by that person.

      For example, one may have a bunch of “good seeds” to plant, but he/she will not be able to get a good harvest unless those are planted in a field with good soil full of nutrients. So, giving pattidana is like giving fertile soil to that person to plant those seeds.

      To put it another way: Beings in the lower realms are in a “bad state of mind” most of the time. Receiving pattaidana can make their minds elevated to a better state for at least a short time. During that time, “samanantara” (suitable conditions) are present for that being to be able to “pull some good vipaka” from the “annantara”, i.e., from the kamma bhava.

    • #19598
      upekkha100
      Participant

      Lal said:
      1) “In a way, what it does is to make the mind of the person receiving “to a better state” for cultivating those existing causes.”

      2) “Receiving pattaidana can make their minds elevated to a better state for at least a short time. During that time, “samanantara” (suitable conditions) are present for that being to be able to “pull some good vipaka” from the “annantara”, i.e., from the kamma bhava.”

      My questions:
      1) Can those 2 quotes from above be explained via examples? Like let’s say someone(X)does pattidana, and it successfully reaches 2 receivers. A human(Y) and a peta(Z). Both Y and Z have the hetu(causes, good kamma beeja). When Y and Z successfully receive the pattidana, is that pattidana going to do anything to Y and Z’s good kamma beeja?

      2) Or will the pattidana have no impact on Y and Z’s good kamma beeja. Rather, the only impact the pattidana will have is on the mindset of Y and Z, by elevating their mindsets?

    • #19666
      Lal
      Keymaster

      “2) Or will the pattidana have no impact on Y and Z’s good kamma beeja. Rather, the only impact the pattidana will have is on the mindset of Y and Z, by elevating their mindsets?”

      That is the main point. One cannot “give” causes(kamma beeja). One can give only conditions for those kamma beeja to germinate. That is what I explained above and also on those posts.

      However, I forgot to mention something important. Pattidana is more effective for only certain beings: Especially some pretas, and also gandhabbas to some extent. Those pretas are totally dependent on pattidana. I have talked about this.

      Unless one is giving merits to a deceased person or persons, it is always better to give merits to ALL BEINGS. That will help make the conditions better in the whole world for all beings.

      This is what the Arahants do, and of course they are very effective. Cultivating metta to all, and giving merits to all, will make conditions in the “whole world” better for all beings. After all, any living being has been one’s father, mother etc in this beginning-less rebirth process: “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm“.

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