Merit (Buddhism)

Thus the Buddhist's view of his present activities has a wider basis, they being but one group of incidents in an indefinitely prolonged past, present and future series. They are, as has been said, no mere train of witnesses for or against him, but a stage in a cumulative force of tremendous power. He and his works stand in a mutual relation, somewhat like that of child to parent in the case of past works, of parent to child in the case of future works. Now no normal mother is indifferent as to whether or how she is carrying out her creative potency. Nor can any normal Buddhist not care whether his acts, wrought up hourly in their effect into his present and future character, are making a happy or a miserable successor. And so, without any definite belief as to how, or in what realm of the universe he will re-arise as that successor to his present self, the pious Buddhist, no less than his pious brethren of other creeds, goes on giving money and effort, time and thought to good works, cheerfully believing that nothing of it can possibly forgo its effect, but that it is all a piling up of merit or creative potency, to result, somewhere, somewhere, somehow, in future happiness—happiness which, though he be altruistic the while, is yet more a future asset of his, than of some one in whom he naturally is less interested than in his present self. He believes that, because of what he is now doing, some one now in process of mental creation by him, and to all intents and purposes his future " self," will one day taste less or more of life's trials. To that embryonic character he is inextricably bound ever making or marring it, and for it he is therefore and thus far responsible.