Merit is what sets you up for the next cycle of life. It is, of course, the goal to come back in your cycle as a step ahead of where you are in this life. The key determiner of your next life is what you do in this one. So, you can see why attempts to gain merit are popular!
'Merit Making' as its referred to can be accomplished in many ways. In general it has to do with good deeds or good thoughts. Donations to the temple and alms to the monks give merit, helping someone in need gives merit. Often, it can involve animals. Setting fish or birds free is a popular merit making practice.
Temples along a waterway often give the opportunity to feed the fish for merit. As you can imagine, this leads to prolific aquatic life in small ponds.
This week we were at a temple in the Old Siam region of Thailand. After touring and admiring the amazing art work found in Buddhist temples we figured a little merit making couldn't hurt.
The temple is surrounded by a moat and accessed by a foot bridge. Makes for a lovely quaint setting.
While the water is muddy and murky it is quite calm. Until you add a few fish pellets! The still water surface erupted with a plethora of fish. Mainly catfish with their creepy whiskers! Hmm, wonder how many merit points are deducted when I think the animals are creepy?
Hopefully I fed enough fish to gain at least enough merit to offset my negative catfish-whisker-thoughts.