Field Of Merit Revisited

I just wrote a comment in response to one left by Chris Y. I’d got more and more to say and the comment has turned into post length so I thought I would elevate it to the front page as a post. Here is my response to the comment left by Chris:

An Explanation
By Rev. Mugo – Posted on July 1st, 2012

Thanks Chris for giving me the opportunity to write more on field of merit. What you wrote made me smile even though I am not familiar with either the film you mention nor the quote from it.

It was not my intention behind writing that short piece about field of merit to reference the film Field of Dreams, that is build it, and they will come nor the inspiration behind what I wrote. Although you may have caught in the wind that I do have a ‘project’ lurking in the background not entirely unconnected to the field of merit!

The term is not my invention either although I found out AFTER I used it in a, for me, significant talk referring to the Order as a field of merit which I am committed to. Well it is a commitment to all those who train within the order, as well as those who don’t. You could say it is a commitment to practice ALONGSIDE OTHERS, all living things as the kesa verse says.

The kesa, in whatever colour, form and size, is referred to in Buddhism as a field of merit. I have no handy scriptural reference up my sleeve unfortunately. The kesa, as you know, is deeply connected to the Buddhist Precepts being both *symbolic and *identical really. As I was told just before lay ordination, this is not just a bit of black cloth to hang around your neck! Love those American monks!

The late Rev. Master Daizui, former head of the order, extended the meaning of the kesa to include the unseen kesa, that is wearing the kesa of training whether or not it has been formally given and received ceremonially. So it is, with this extended meaning of the kesa, that the field of merit is boundless/formless. This has direct meaning for me.

Here is the kesa verse spoken daily as one clothes oneself with the Precepts for that day.

How great and wondrous
Are the clothes of Enlightenment
Formless and embracing every treasure
I wish to unfold the Buddha’s Teaching
That I may help all living things.

Somebody asked what the connection between field of merit and Buddha Nature is and whether they are identical in meaning. Looking now at the kesa verse along with what I’ve been saying one can see there is a flow of connection. Namely, is it not the wish/vow/promise to live ones life in harmony with the the Precepts which makes manifest the field of merit? To make manifest non separation/no separate self which is the teaching of the Precepts handed down from the Buddha. See Anatta the teaching of no separate self. Also see Sunyata. BTW, I use Wikipedia as a first stop reference point but that’s all it is. One has to explore teachings widely and within meditation particularly.

**I will need to write some more about that for those not familiar with how the teaching is passed, or flows, through the generations reaching to the time of the historic Buddha and before him.

For all those who just don’t get the idea of spiritual merit, or get worked up about the very idea of it, please do not worry yourself. Most people get on just fine and merit remains a concept. This doesn’t make you shallow spiritually it just shows that we all come at religion/spirituality from different directions. And I am all for that.

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2 thoughts on “Field Of Merit Revisited”

  1. “merit”, “field” are loaded words for me, but as I enjoy being analytical (my personal koan!), I’ll eschew further comment.
    Did the flood waters affect you?
    In gassho

  2. There are some things that to not do well with the kind of analysis, or level of analysis, you are familiar with Walter. Many a trainee has left an interview with a teacher less than mentally satisfied with the answer they got to questions such as ‘What is Buddha Nature’? I think I once got ‘It doesn’t matter if there is or there isn’t Buddha nature’. An answer which basically meant I dropped the question!

    No the flood waters did not affect me. I was at Throssel last week and we did have a thunderstorm but nothing major resulted from it in terms of water build up. No flooding where I am staying in Eastern Cumbria either. Others were not so fortunate. Hopefully you escaped the worst of it.

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