Transferring Merit

5 April 2021

Power of Prayer and Personal Intention April 10 - Transferring Merit

As we nurture the spirit of URI, let us renew the power of prayer and positive intention that unites our global community and awakens our hearts and souls. See the full series of posts here.

Transferring merit is a widespread custom in Buddhist traditions, Mahāyāna, Vajrayāna and Theravāda. URI was introduced to this practice by Dharma Master Reverend Heng Sure, a monk in the Mahayana tradition, a URI founding member, a Cooperation Circle (URI member group) leader, and former URI Global Council Trustee.

The Dharma method of “dedication of merit” allows us to share all the blessings, all the merit and goodness that we have earned. We can send out all the benefits that would otherwise accrue to ourselves, to every living being in the world. Simply make a wish, for whatever need you perceive in the world, for whatever wholesome change you would wish to take place in the world, and send the goodness out with a single mind. The results we desire can take any form, specific or general, personal or universal. The power of a concentrated mind for goodness, amplified by the community in unison, makes the connection effective. The spirit of giving sends the gift, the prayer for well-being, throughout the world, to all creatures, as far as our minds extend.

Dedication of Merit Song

May every living being,
Our minds as one and radiant with light,
Share the fruits of peace,
With hearts of goodness, luminous and bright.
If people hear and see,
How hands and hearts can find in giving, unity,
May their minds awake,
To Great Compassion, wisdom and to joy.
May kindness find reward,
May all who sorrow leave their grief and pain;
May this boundless light,
Break the darkness of their endless night.
Because our hearts are one
This world of pain turns into Paradise
May all become compassionate and wise,
May all become compassionate and wise.

Explanation of the Dedication of Merit Song by Heng Sure

“The song "Dedication of Merit" was born as an antidote to the grief and helplessness following 9/11 and the fall of the two towers. Two hundred and fifty Buddhists and Catholics had gathered at a Benedictine Convent in Indiana to investigate the Rule of St. Benedict from a Buddhist perspective.

Sister Mary Margaret Funk invited the Buddhists to provide a dedication of merit, a practice of sharing with the world all the goodness created by any wholesome action. Using the mind to broadcast goodness is an effective form of spiritual activism.

The Abbot of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and I accepted the challenge, and the night before the conference concluded, we managed to translate into English the 1300-year-old Chinese Buddhist verse. Needing a tune, my thoughts spontaneously recalled Ms. McKennitt's, "Dark Night of the Soul." I matched our translation and her melody and they joined like body and soul.

I introduced the new song, saying, "After meritorious deeds of any sort, a Bodhisattva, an Awakened Being, can share the goodness with the world by making a wish and dedicating the merit. The scope of your mind and the sincerity of your heart determine the efficacy of your vows. When, as today, so many hearts dedicate together, the effect can change the world in profound ways."