The Numerical Discourses
Chapter 10: The Guarded Mind
7. Merits of Generosity
1. Thus I have heard: One time, the Buddha was staying at Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park in Jeta’s Grove of Śrāvastī.
2. It was then that the Bhagavān addressed the monks, “Don’t be afraid of the rewards of merit. Why is that? It gets pleasures that should be desirable and respectable. The reason it’s called ‘merit’ is that it has great rewards. What you should fear is having no merit. Why is that? That’s the name for the source of suffering. Indescribable sorrow, lamentation, pain, and trouble and the lack of desirable pleasure is called ‘having no merit.’
3. “Monks, I recall in the past I had practiced kindness for seven years. After that, I didn’t return to this world for seven eons. During those seven eons, I was born in the Ābhāsvara Heaven. I was born in an empty Brahma Heaven as the god Mahābrahmā during those seven eons. I was the unmatched ruler of a hundred thousand worlds. I was reborn thirty-six times as Śakra the Lord of Gods. I also became a noble wheel-turning king countless times.
4. “Therefore, monks, don’t be cautious about making merit. Why is that? This is called getting pleasures that should be very desirable and respectable. This is the reason it’s called ‘merit.’ What you should fear is having no merit. Why is that? That’s the source of suffering. Indescribable sorrow, lamentation, pain, and trouble is called ‘having no merit.’”
5. The Bhagavān then spoke in verse:
“Happy are the rewards of merit,
And obtaining what one wishes.
Go quickly to complete extinguishment;
Arrive at the unconditioned state.
Even if the schemer
Were the god Māra the Wicked One,
He couldn’t cause trouble for
Someone whose works make merit.
Always seek for oneself
The path of noble people,
And then suffering will be completely ended,
And afterward there’s no more sorrow.
6. “Therefore, monks, don’t reject making merit. Thus, monks, you should train yourselves.”
7. When the monks heard what the Buddha taught, they rejoiced and approved.
- This sūtra is very similar to Iti 22 and AN 7.62. [back]
Translator: Charles Patton
Last Revised: 27 March 2023