People who have not previously accumulated any merit will neither be kind, nor take delight in the teaching of the Buddha. They will not appreciate peace or value it and will not value the path of virtue (kusala). They will automatically misunderstand all of these.
Misunderstanding about the Buddha, The Dhamma, The Sangha and the Religion shows that they have not accumulated any merit in their previous lives. No one can persuade them to take precepts or meditate as they cannot see what good will come of these activities. They cannot practise and are not contented when they are doing it. In the end they will never get close to the Triple Gem.
On the other hand, when people have accomplished the Perfections, they will appreciate all these good deeds. Their mind will be attracted to them according to the law of Kamma.
This type of people will not only be satisfied with their own virtue, they will want to do more and more of it. They are happy with this way of life. On the other hand, they will be unhappy to do evil. People who have not stored any merit are the other way round. The thought of staying at the temple for one night fills them with horror when they exclaim, “My goodness! What suffering! How hard!”
People who are able to stay there will exclaim with delight, “Oh! How pleasant this place is! How uplifting! It is like heaven on earth. The mind is full of clarity and relief. All ones activities such as eating, walking, sitting and lying down do not affect their moods. These are the result of their own merit. Not everybody is the same because our minds are very different. People who cannot penetrate the essence of the Dhamma are incapable of realizing it.
When Ananda (one of the Buddha’s chief disciples) listened to the Buddha’s discourse, he was enchanted and uttered these sentences: “Lord, your Dhamma is so beautiful, so moving that it has touched the core of beings.” The Buddha replied, ” Do not say so because not everybody is at the same level as you. There are many who will not be moved. Some will not believe in the teaching and some will not understand its meaning. As you have wisdom, faith, energy and also are a Sotapanna (a Stream enterer), you have deep understanding about the Dhamma whether it is the Five Khandhas (aggregates) or Rupa Nama (matter and mind).”
People who start to go to the temple in their old age will find happiness in their advancing years. In the Vessantara, Jataka Chuchok had, in his previous life, decided to make merit in his old age. As the result, he gained happiness in the life after as he was growing old. How did Amittada make merit in her past life? She offered a fading flower to the Buddha. The result of the kamma made her marry Chuchok who was an ugly old man.
Usually people want everything but sacrifice nothing. They do not want to discipline their minds and are accustomed to thinking and recollecting continuously . They will always be trapped by their old emotions. When will they be free? If we want to acquire new and wholesome states of mind, we must begin to do meritorious deeds.
One who wants to enter the state of Nibbana, must make a resolution. Do not believe any scholar who says that anyone who makes a wish has Tanha (craving) and Kilesa (defilement). After making merit, craving is still there. Both Sariputta and Moggallana (two of the Buddha’s chief disciples) made a resolution to enter the state of Nibbana in which a Buddha presided.
Even the Buddha himself wished to enter Nibbana, to become a Buddha. If he did not do so, there would be no goal. When we travel by car or on a boat, there must be a destination.
In the same way, making merit requires a goal. Therefore one must make a wish to be free from Suffering and to enter Nibbana, which is the destination. To wish to be free from Suffering is the desire to get rid of defilement and craving. Once we realize Nibbana, defilement and craving will be eliminated.
If there is no wish, we will not know which way to go. Some people say that they do not want anything, just to make merit in order to finish the stored merit and also to finish the misdeeds which they have done. Those people talk without any principle.
If they have a principle, they must stick to it. We practise in order to follow the way to happiness; to enter that Path of bliss where there are human treasures, heavenly treasures and Nibbanic treasures.
This wish is the energy which will send us to our destination.
So every time we meditate we have to make a wish that our practice may lead us beyond suffering and finally to Nibbana.