When it comes time to dedicate the fruits of our practice and understanding, it is a simple wish. A wish that any merit or gain we may have accumulated either through the listening, contemplating and implementation of Buddha's teachings or through the performance of a practice in one-pointed concentration is given away freely to others. Anything that we have received or gained, all of it, we dedicate to the liberation of other beings. All types of beings, beings in the three worlds, past and future beings. Giving all of the energy of our efforts and all of the benefits gained freely away to others -- our friends, our enemies, those better off than us, those worse off than us, those we do not even know. Without exception, all is given away freely. Nothing is held back.

This dedicating is basically a giving of generosity. There are different kinds of generosity. One can give material things, such as a dollar to someone living on the street for a cup of coffee, one can give protection -- both in a physical or spiritual sense, and one can give wisdom -- the giving of knowledge or understanding. But the merit of dharma is the most precious and greatest gift of generosity. If you were in a dark house, the light from one candle would illuminate the entire room with everyone in that room benefiting. When the oil was burned out, the light would go out. Whoever adds oil to the lamp would make the light last longer and everyone would benefit from it. Like this, fortunate conditions in this world are the result of collective merit. Whenever someone creates virtue and dedicates it to all beings they help the collective merit last longer.

Shantideva said that just as a mountain of dry grass as large as Mt. Meru can be reduced to ash by a single spark, merit gathered over eons can be destroyed in a single instant of anger. If we practice virtue with bodhichitta motivation (the wish for all to be released from suffering) and then dedicate the merit for the benefit of others that merit can't be destroyed. It is no longer ours to destroy though anger or any other means. It now belongs to the collective whole. To enhance the power of our dedication we pray in the same manner that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the past and present do, as they always have and always will do. We can, like them, turn our mind toward unselfishness. By contemplating bodhichitta over and over and contemplating compassion, by imagining oneself experiencing the suffering of others, and reestablishing the commitment to do everything one can to relieve suffering for all, by praying that blessings of all sources of refuge will descend and that your aspirations of liberation for all will be fulfilled we can begin to add oil to this oil lamp of light.

And then finally, if we can remain in a state of equanimity, compassionate of the suffering of all regardless of whether they are our friends or our enemies or unknown to us, we can truly give something. The gift of perfection is said to be when its three spheres are sealed with emptiness. The distinguishing feature of the Mahayana path is that all virtuous activity is accompanied by altruistic motivation. Whether you are listening to, thinking about, or doing activity, your attitude should be intent on the welfare of others. Dedicating and sharing merit is the last act in all Mahayana practices. It increases the efficiency of any practice. Merit dedicated to benefit all cannot be destroyed by any personal act. Giving what is worthwhile with non-attachment is the first paramita taught by Buddha. Giving is the easiest of the paramitas to understand and it is something everyone can practice.

We all can see the shortcomings of samsara. It's easy to see that a growing conviction for liberation is the only worthwhile goal. Every aspect of samsara is wrought with suffering. Cyclic existence is like a potter's wheel. It goes round and round in one place. Being in samsara is like being a bee caught in a jar. No matter how much it flies around, all one can do is dart to the top, middle and bottom of the jar. Our mind is like the bee, we experience the moments of and are reborn into the various six realms. The very nature of samsara has suffering. There is joy and happy times of course, but there is also always suffering. Samsara will never be without the suffering. So, it should be easy to stop and think, "just like us me, all others do not want to experience even one second of suffering". With this thought, we can easily dedicate our joy, our insight, our experience, anything we have gained to others. For it is certain just like us, they do not wish to suffer.

This is the intent of the dedication prayer, and it is important to never forget reciting it at the end of any practice performed or even listing to teachings or reading Buddha's words.

More information on Generosity can be found in Trunpa Rinpoche's teaching.

Add oil to the butter lamp.

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