Why Buddha said merit is the world’s bait?

saṃyutta nikāya after this verse recommendations for doing merit shows up more and more. Of course giving to sangha. But why did Buddha first say that?

When and which merits are considered like the deva said?

[Deva and Buddha ]

The deva’s verse is referring to mundane right view, within conditioned reality. The Buddha’s goes to transcendent right view (MN 117). “The world’s bait” are the phenomena which attract one to the current of samsara:

These four, O Monks, are distortions of perception, distortions of thought distortions of view…

Sensing no change in the changing,
Sensing pleasure in suffering,
Assuming “self” where there’s no self,
Sensing the un-lovely as lovely —

Gone astray with wrong views, beings
Mis-perceive with distorted minds.—AN 4.49

Perceptions rely on views, so it is views that have to be changed.
A further feature is the protocol of who delivers what within the suttas. Here appropriately a deva speaks about the conditioned realm, while the Buddha refers to the unconditioned.

“In the Buddha’s Words” by Bikkhu Bodhi is arranged with the suttas referring to mundane right view progressing to those dealing with transcendent right view.

The perception of impermanence is more valuable than any act of merit (AN 9.20).


Well done my good friend. Thank you. :pray:t4: What is the sutta again that say the reasons people give? And the last reason people give was said to beautify the mind. So that will be the right view that you said. Giving to beautify the mind has nothing to do with the mundane.

That’s in the Dānamahapphala Sutta AN 7.52

11.2 But they give a gift thinking, ‘This is an adornment and requisite for the mind.’api ca kho cittālaṅkāracittaparikkhāraṃ dānaṃ deti.

In the Sutta you quote above, the deva is praising the accumulation of merit as a cause for happiness - probably because they result in rebirth in the heavenly realms. Of course, the Buddha sees this as a temporary form of happiness, still subject to rebirth and less worthy than liberation, so he recommends dropping the bait of wirldy interest and pleasures, not chasing the “carrot” so to speak, and instead seeking the peace of liberation.

In other places, speaking to others, the Buddha praises merit. Such as in Iti 22

“Bhikkhus, do not fear meritorious deeds. This is an expression denoting happiness, what is desirable, wished for, dear and agreeable, that is, ‘meritorious deeds.’ For I know full well, bhikkhus, that for a long time I experienced desirable, wished for, dear and agreeable results from often performing meritorious deeds.

But this type of happiness was still caught up with what the Buddha sees as mundane benefits, such as rulership, power and heavenly pleasures.

In the Abhisanda Sutta AN 8.39 we see that acts of merit are not just practicing Dana but includes going for refuge and keeping precepts which are gifts to both oneself and others.

Given that making merit has these days has often been reduced to an annual act of giving to the sangha, or calculated on how much merit one can get by giving to a stream enterer etc, it’s worth remembering that meritorious deeds include developing faith, keeping the precepts and being kind!


Thank you so much. :bulb: :pray:t4::pray:t4::pray:t4: