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Q5: How do we go about dedicating the merit? Can our deceased relatives actually receive the merit that is being dedicated?

A: Normally, monastics will lead participants to chant the Verse of Merit Transfer during a merit transfer ritual at a Dharma assembly. This is done in order to dedicate the merit of chanting the sutra and the Buddha's name to others.

To dedicate merit is to transfer our mental power to reach the targeted receiver through the power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas' vows. This is analogous to the ways that sunrays deflected by an object can illuminate a dark spot in another location, even though that spot is not in the direction of the sunlight. As long as we keep our belief firm and strong, we can readily transfer merits to those in need, and our designated subjects would always be able to receive these merits from us.

Dedicating our merit to others does not cause any reduction of the share of merit we deserve, just as the fire of an oil lamp can light up numerous other lamps without ever diminishing its own brightness. Moreover, Buddhism encourages us to extend the dedication of our merit to all other sentient beings, not just our relatives. As soon as we perform any meritorious deed, we can immediately dedicate the merit. This is a spontaneous display of a compassionate mind.

Related articles:

Deliverance Service Benefits Both the Living and the Deceased

The Seventh Lunar Month Dharma Assemblies (I): The Ullambana Assembly – Repay Our Parents' Kindness with Merit Transfer

Dharma Assemblies in Lunar July (II): Yogacara Ulka-mukha Dharma Service to Save Hungry Ghosts from Suffering

Dharma Assemblies in Lunar July (III): Practicing Repentance at Emperor Liang’s Repentance Eliminates Delusion, Karma, and Suffering

Q1: Where will our relatives go after death? If they are already reborn, would our prayers for the deceased help them?

Q2: Is it necessary to participate in Dharma assemblies if they are not performed for the deliverance of a deceased relative?

Q3: Why does Buddhism maintain that care and concern for the deceased can be conveyed through Dharma assemblies?

Q4: If we are unable to attend a Dharma assembly at a temple or monastery, can we, alternatively, perform the deliverance ritual at home for our deceased relatives or friends?

Q5: How do we go about dedicating the merit? Can our deceased relatives actually receive the merit that is being dedicated?

Resource: Issue 240 of Humanity  Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁) 
Editing: Keith Brown, Chiacheng Chang (張家誠)