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The emphasis on skillful actions leads to the concept of merit which refers doing good deeds or actions in an unselfish way for mental development. Some ways of making merit have been institutionalized in Thailand and for lay people in Thailand making merit is more common as a religious activity than meditating or studying dharma. People in Thailand make merit mostly by giving food to monks and making donations to temples.
      Despite its name in English, merit isn't a supernatural credit system (although some Thais see it that way). Instead, making merit refers to doing deeds unselfishly, without expecting anything in return. They're therefore done skillfully, and this raises the mental and spiritual level of the person doing them. It's believed that even if you don't follow the complete path to enlightenment these actions will help you have happiness in this lifetime and also in future livetimes.
     Following are ways to make merit: giving, following the precepts, doing meditation or having a collected mind, being reverent, being helpful, dedicating merit to others, rejoicing in others' merit, listen to dharma, teaching dharma, and straightening out one's views.

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Like other Indian religions Buddhism teaches the continuity of lives. It describes realms above and below man into which people are reborn according to their karma. In Buddhism it's not the ego that's reborn but the sum of your karma - the momentum from your actions and motivations in this lifletime and past lifetimes. Rebirth into these realms is impermanant. Only upon reaching nirvana does rebirth cease. Rebirth is a common theme in traditional stories in Thailand.

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An addendum to the teachings are the four principles of a virtuous existence, also called "the four divine abidings" or "the four immeasurables". These points are used for mental training and for developing good conduct. It's also believed that cultivation of these mental qualities will lead to rebirth in the heavenly realms. The four points are common themes of Buddhist sermons.




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