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Sutta where different actions are compared in terms of their merit?

I’ve heard of this sutta from different teachers where meritorious actions are compared to one another. But I’m struggling to find the source. The formula goes something like “X is meritorious. Even more meritorious than x is y. Even more meritorious than y is z.”

Some of the actions that are compared are giving dana, cultivating metta and contemplating impermanence. It’s possible that there are more actions in the list. And it’s possible that there is mention of y-action for a finger snap being more meritorious than x-action. Does this ring any bells for anyone?

You may be looking for MN.142, Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta wherein the Buddha talks about the efficacy of offerings.
With Metta

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Suttas with “finger snap” are AN 1.51-60, AN 1.316-332, AN 1.394-574, and AN 9.20. Then we still have “finger-snap” at Thig 5.1 and Thag 6.6.

AN 9.20 seems a good candidate! :+1:

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Yes, I think it is AN 9.20. Thank you.

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Care must be exercised in using “merit.” When the Buddha speaks in terms of nibbana, “merit” is an undesirable goal, and he speaks of the factors for actively defeating the hindrances.

Mara: “Alive, you can do acts of merit.

The Buddha:
“I haven’t, for merit, even the least bit of need.
Those who have need of merit: those are the ones
Mara’s fit to address.

In me are conviction, austerity, persistence,
discernment.” Sn 3.2

A major theme in the Sutta Nipata is to indicate to Brahmans that nibbana could not be attained by rites and rituals. Overcoming this obstacle of course is also a condition of stream-entry.

AN 9.20 is the classic sutta that points out to laypeople that insight is far more profitable than any act of giving (making merit), which is the steo from mundane to transcendent right view (MN 117).

"If one were to develop even for just a finger-snap the perception of inconstancy, that would be more fruitful than the gift "

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