Saturday, 17 October 2015

Ten Bases of Meritorious Actions (Ten Punnakiriya-vatthus)

Punna means that which purifies the mind, which in fact means good deeds. Kiriya means that which ought to be done. Vatthu means that which is the basis for prosperity and welfare. Thus those actions that should definitely be done because they are the basis for prosperity and welfare (called mangalas or blessings) are called "Bases of Meritorious Actions (Punnakiriya-vatthus)".

The Ten Punnakiriya-vatthus are:

Dana = charity
Dana means giving away something as a gift or donation. If one performs the charitable act with keen volition before, during and after the time of giving, without any attachment to the things which are being offered, and with a firm belief in karma and its results, that kind of Dana is indeed greatly beneficial Dana. Owing to one’s Dana, one will be endowed with riches throughout the round of rebirths.
Sila = morality
Sila means restraining one’s bodily and verbal actions, maintaining good moral conduct. One who observes morality avoids doing evil actions either physically or verbally. All human beings should observe the five moral precepts well just as they wear nether garments well. It is essential that everyone be endowed with good morality. So everyone should observe the five moral precepts. For other higher moral precepts (Uposatha Sila), the more one can observe them, the greater the benefits will be. The merit of morality surpasses that of charity. One who is endowed with morality will be reborn in fortunate existences throughout the round of rebirths, Samsara.
Bhavana = meditation
Bhavana means contemplating the attributes of the Buddha and practicing tranquility or insight meditation. The practice of meditation is more beneficial than the performance of charitable acts or the observance of moral precepts. It is necessary to have a calm and tranquil mind to practice meditation, because it is cultivated through mental action. This time of the Buddha Sasana is the opportune time for all human beings to contemplate the attributes of the Buddha (Buddhanussati Bhavana) and cultivate loving-kindness (Metta Bhavana). It is of great benefit to practice tranquility meditation(Samatha Bhavana) and insight meditation(Vipassana Bhavana). Only at the time when the Buddha’s Teaching flourishes do the people have the chance to contemplate the three characteristics of impermanence(Anicca), suffering(Dukkha) and unsubstantiality of sentient beings(Anatta). The practice of meditation(Bhavana) even for a short time can bear more benefits than practicing Dana and Sila for a long time. Therefore, everyone should practice tranquility meditation (Samatha Bhavana) as well as insight meditation(Vipassana Bhavana) to gain great merit and to make his life worthwhile.
Apacayana = giving due respect to others
Apacayana means paying due respect to those who are worthy of respect. The Buddha, the Dhamma, the Samgha, parents, teachers, those who are older, more dignified and more virtuous than oneself, those who practice meditation and those who make strenuous effort for the development of their nation, the Buddha’s Teaching and their country, are worthy of respect. Everyone should pay them due respect by giving a warm welcome when they come, paying respect to them with joined palms raised to the forehead, paying homage to them, walking respectfully before them, bending slightly forward, etc. All these actions denote Apacayana. One who is endowed with Apacayana is loved by everyone and will be prosperous and successful in this very life. He will also be reborn in a good destination after death.
Veyyavacca = rendering services and assistance
Veyyavacca means helping others in performing good deeds. Attending on those who are worthy of respect in a small way or in a big way, helping one’s friends in their affairs, offering one’s seat and helping persons worthy of respect while one is travelling, helping the sick and the aged, cleaning monasteries, houses, localities, pagodas and Bodhi Trees, repairing roads for the welfare of passers-by, building bridges, placing water-pots on stands for everyone to drink, and building rest-houses, etc., are called Veyyavacca.
Pattidana = sharing merits
Pattidana means sharing one’s merits with others after doing some good deeds. One who has performed some meritorious deeds should share one’s merit with others so that they may also gain the same benefit. One must share one’s merit with the King of Hell(Yama) for  he always questions those who reach Niraya whether they had performed some meritorious deeds in their past existences in order to enable him to send them to good destination. {See detailed facts about that in my older post Title-Devadutta Sutta}. Besides, one has to share one’s merit with one’s parents, grandparents, and all sentient beings living in the thirty-one planes of existences.
Pattanumodana = rejoicing at merits shared
Pattanumodana means rejoicing in others’ meritorious deeds and saying “well-done” when one sees, hears or knows them. When one rejoices in others’ meritorious deeds happily and earnestly, one will acquire a great deal of good karma which will bear good results in many future existences. Even when one cannot perform meritorious deeds by oneself, one can say “well-done” “(Sadhu)”joyfully and sincerely to other’s good deeds. The acts of sharing one’s merit and rejoicing in others’ good deeds resemble the act of lighting a candle from another lighted candle. The flame of the lighted candle does not lose any of its brightness, and it enables other candles to get similar flames and burn brightly. In the same way, one who shares his merit with others will not lose any of his merit. Besides, he gains additional merit, while he helps others who rejoices in his merit to gain the same benefits as he does.

When miserable beings(Petas) rejoice and say “well-done” “(Sadhu)” to the merits shared out to them, these acts of merit can bear fruits immediately. Various celestial beings and miserable beings such as Paradattupajivi Petas and Vemanika Petas, who sustain their lives on others’ giving, can enjoy the bliss and happiness of good merit as soon as they say “well-done””(Sadhu)” to others’ meritorious deeds. The case of King Bimbissara and the Petas who were his relatives in former existences clearly illustrates that sharing of merit is beneficial to those who have passed away. Therefore, one who performs meritorious deeds should share one’s merit with all, especially, with one’s relatives who have passed away.
Dhammassavana = listening to the Dhamma
Dhammassavana means listening well to the Doctrine, i.e, listening with proper attention to the discourses, which can give both mundane and supra-mundane benefits. Dhammassavana really means listening to the discourses that can lead one to liberation from the round of rebirths, Samsara. It is a very rare opportunity to listen to the discourses delivered by the Buddha. It is described as one of the five Rare Occasions (Sadhammassavanam Dullabham). Therefore, listeners should pay proper attention and listen respectfully to the teachings of the Buddha for the Buddha appears in this world only once in aeons of time.
Dhammadesana = teaching the Dhamma to others
Dhammadesana means teaching the Doctrine to others. Expounding, writing, distributing and teaching the discourses preached by the Buddha to others, with proper attention, regardless of gain and fame, denote Dhammadesana. According to the Buddha’s words, “Sabbadanam Dhammadanam Jinati”, meaning that “The benefits accruing from expounding the Doctrine to others surpass the benefits obtained from any other form of donation”. All devotees should therefore strive to teach the Doctrine to others.
Ditthijukamma = right belief
Ditthijukamma means straighting one’s view or having faith in Karma and its results. It is of vital importance for all beings to have the right view. Perceiving, accepting and believing in the ten subjects of right view (Dassavatthuka) mean Ditthijukamma. So, to have the right view, one should understand the ten subjects of right view. They are:

1. There is a good result in an act of alms-giving, charity giving.
2. There is benefit in veneration.
3. There is benefit in offering gifts.
4. There is the Law of Karma and Its Results which teaches that moral and immoral deeds have respective consequences, in this life and the next.
5. There is benefit in tending and supporting one’s own mother, while neglecting her means an evil deed.
6. There is benefit in tending and supporting one’s own father, while neglecting him means an evil deed.
7. There are unseen worlds of hell, hungry ghosts, demons, devas, Sakkas and brahmas. Existence of such beings should be accepted as a fact.
8. There is this present world.
9. There is the next world or lives to come.
10. There are holy persons who have subdued their thought, word and deed. There are persons with jhanic insight or concentration who see this world and the next clearly. They teach such sights, views and visions in a correct way. We should have confidence in such samanas and brahmanas.

The above beliefs are true, beneficial and necessary for a Buddhist who wants to conduct his/her life on the Right Path, based on right understanding (Samma Ditthi). They are termed “Right View or Right Belief”. So that a Buddhist should take refuge in Three Jewels, the Law of Karma and Its Results, and Ten Right Views just mentioned. He or she will have a strength of character and do great service to the world by having these right views of life. Those who believe in the ten subjects of right view are called good sons and good daughters of the Buddha with the right view.

All beings, having faith in Karma and its result, and abandoning the ten subjects of wrong view, as well as the creator concept, and worldly concepts such as relying on astrological or magical potencies, should perform meritorious actions for the welfare of this world as well as for attaining good existences in the future. It is of vital importance and great benefit to all beings to have the knowledge of the right view on Karma and its results. By performing good actions with this knowledge, one will be reborn in good existences, will possess great wealth and will realize Nibbana, which is the extinction of existences. Of all evil deeds, holding the wrong views is the most grievous one. Those who hold wrong views very firmly cannot be liberated from the round of rebirths, Samsara even if they have the opportunity to listen to a discourse preached by the Buddha. These holders of wrong views will remain as the tree stumps of Samsara (Samsara Khanuka) forever, means wouldn’t escape from Samsara. So, all beings must strive to become holders of right view.

The Fourty Wholesome Deeds - These good deeds are meritorious deeds not only when you actually perform them, but also when you make others perform good deeds, when you explain the good consequences of good deeds to others and when you feel appreciative joy at other's meritorious deeds, they equally deserved to be called meritorious deeds. The ten punnakiriya-vatthus (ten wholesome deeds) mentioned above multiplied by four factors, namely, (1) actual performance (2) exhorting others (3) explaining the virtues, and (4) feeling appreciative joy, we get the forty wholesome deeds known as the fourty punnakiriya-vatthus.

May you all be able to develop your inclination to perform wholesome deeds more so than ever. May you all indulge joyfully in wholesome deeds with a view to achieve the supreme bliss of Nibbana.

Source : posted by Ye Thu Aung