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Risk Merit Making

In Thailand, the tradition of 'making merit' means doing good deeds as mentioned in religious doctrine. Thais strongly believe that they ought to regularly make and gain merit to bring themselves happiness, a peaceful life and other good things. Gaining merit is believed to strengthen them and help them to overcome any obstacles or misfortunes they are suffering. They seek to gain more merit because they also believe their accumulated merit will help them to a peaceful place after their death. Even more merit would help them to reach nirvana - divine peace beyond this world.

Thais' belief is based on the Buddhist doctrine. The concept is as stated in a Thai proverb: "if you do good you will receive good; if you do evil you will receive evil". It means that the result of Karma, which represents the evaluation of all life events, is that you will receive the outcome of what you have already initiated. In other words, you will reap that which you have sown.

A common rule in making merit is to prepare one's mind and thoughts. The mind has to be purified and ready. Gaining merit, however, must not bring any trouble or worry to oneself or others. There are three ways of making and gaining merit. They are:

  1. to give alms;
  2. to maintain religious commandment;
  3. to pray.

At Wat Traimit in Bangkok, visitors have options for making merit. In one corner, regilious statues of monks may have gold leaf applied to them by merit-seeking pilgrims. Alternatively, placed by the entrance to the temple beneath a sign that says in English, "Risk Merit Making", is a bank of small, gaudily-illuminated machines. At the bottom of the machines another sign indicates a "Give Alms Hole". In return for alms, the machine generates a random number that corresponds with a number on a fortune-telling ticket.

Phespirit gave alms and received this reading:

Risk Merit Making No.8

The idea that 'gaining merit must not bring any trouble or worry to oneself .....' is somewhat challenged by this assessment. Phespirit's long-standing suspicion that he is intrinsically damned appear to have been confirmed by the ticket's harsh words:

No. 8

Just like an uprooted tree, life seems cheerless. A transfer may help refreshing it up. Lost items unlikely to be recovered. Watch for mismating. Legal case hardly defensible. Compromise or sur- render recommended. No lucks.

But has his act of merit-making brought Phespirit any closer to nirvana? Probably not. No lucks.

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