Orthodox Chinese Buddhism

Do Buddhists Believe That Merit Can Be Transferred to Other People?

Buddhists certainly believe that one can transfer merit accumulated by oneself to another person. Transference (S. parin āmana; C. huixiang) means to take something from oneself and direct it toward another or others. This operates through sympathetic resonance, which was mentioned in the previous entry.
In the transfer of merits, one’s mental power is transmitted, via the power of Buddhas’ and bodhisattvas’ vows, toward the specified recipient(s). This process is analogous to sunlight traveling through the air, striking a reflective object (such as a mirror or metallic object), and thereby illuminating a dark room. Although the dark room is not directly exposed to sunlight, the reflected or “transferred” light can illuminate it. At the same time, although one transfers merit, one’s own merits do not decrease one iota. An analogy from the Buddhist sūtras compares this process to an oil lamp lighting other lamps—although one lamp may light many other lamps, the original lamp in no way becomes less bright. Therefore, after performing meritorious action, an orthodox Buddhist will aspire to transfer the merit gained toward all sentient beings. Such behavior springs forth naturally from a compassionate mind.



Orthodox Chinese Buddhism, Do Buddhists Believe That Merit Can Be Transferred to Other People? , p.50

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