To uproot grasping at self, we need to realise wisdom.
To realise wisdom, we need merit. Merit releases us from negative emotions, the cause of samsaric suffering, and loosens our grasping a self.
As that happens, we glimpse the true nature of our mind. Once we do, we can meditate on the true nature to perfect the realisation of wisdom. Until then, we need to make merit.
There are many ways to make merit. The most comprehensive are the six perfections (paramitas) that Mahayana Buddhism prescribes as the path to enlightenment.
They are: giving (generosity), discipline (morality), patience (fearlessness), diligence (eagerness), tranquility (contemplation) and wisdom.
The first five perfections, collectively referred to as “skilful means”, are especially for accumulating merit. The sixth, wisdom, involves realising the true nature of mind, which is wisdom-emptiness.
The undervaluation of skilful-means practices to develop merit is unfortunate.
Their purpose is to refine and transform our mind.
– Devotion opens our hearts.
– Compassion dissolves ego.
– Prayer unites us with our enlightened qualities.
– Pure perception transforms our awareness.
– Serving others, especially those who rely on us, is the purpose of dharma.
There is no such thing as a buddha who doesn’t help others. So the more we open out hearts to skilful means, the more quickly and surely we reach Buddhahood.
We should never abandon these practices, for the path of skilful means is perfected in the goal of enlightenment, just as bricks become the finished house.
~ Tulku Thondup
(Reference: Nyingma Masters, Facebook, 27 June 2020)