Making merit is a way of life for most Thai people. An old Thai proverb says it best: “if you do good you will receive good; if you do evil you will receive evil ”. Karma it seems really can be a bitch.
There are a few ways of making merit. The first is to give alms. Every morning you will see monks walking up and down the streets of Thailand with empty bowls. They are giving the people a chance to gain merit by filling that bowl with food as monks aren’t allowed to store or cook food. The person gains merit and the monk gets fed. Many small stores and temples have people selling alms baskets, small beach buckets filled with rice, candles, incense, flashlight, and other things the monks need. These baskets are given to the monks at temple giving yet another chance to gain merit. Being generous to those less fortunate is also a staple in the merit making process.
Another way of making merit is through prayer, usually done at the local temple.Opening ones mind to the spiritual side will gain the individual merit.
As a tourist in Thailand you’ll be given the chance to make merit everywhere. Around temples children carry many small cages of differing colors with small birds inside. Releasing these birds at the temple and giving them their freedom will give you merit… Well, as a tourist you kinda have to pay for your merit, the privilege of releasing the birds will set you back 50 Baht. The birds are well trained too…they fly right back down the hill to the cages and waiting food. You can also purchase an alms bucket to give to the monks.
Making merit is a way to gain happiness in this life and a better position in the next life. Here is what Thais believe certain alms will bring you.
If you offer rice or any staple food, you will be happy and healthy all through your life.
If you offer clothing, in your next life, you won’t have a problem with clothing and will also have beautiful skin.
If you offer candles, flashlight and incense sticks you will have beautiful and bright eyes. Also, in your next life you will not need glasses.
If you offer a Buddha image, in your following life you will be as beautiful as that image.
If you offer religious books or donate text books and learning materials for school children, you will be intelligent in your next life.
If you offer soap, skin lotion or cleansing facilities, you will have nice and beautiful skin.
If you donate money and materials for constructing buildings in the monastery, you will have a big and beautiful house in your next life.
If you build bathrooms and toilets for the monastery and help to build public hospitals, you will have a healthy and happy life.
If you offer toothpicks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, you will have beautiful and strong teeth.
If you donate blood, kidney or other part of your body, you will have a fit body and vigorous health in your future lives.