Merit by Giving
Buddha listed the earning of merit by generosity as a fundamental virtue. If we feed a hungry person, treat the sick or in any other manner reduce suffering of other beings we are practising generosity. If we give to a monk, we do so in one of four methods: robes, alms or food, medicine and also by providing shelter. If we give food to the hungry we give 5 blessings to the being we are aiding. They gain long life, beauty, happiness, strength, and intelligence. We gain 5 blessings by giving: the respect of those around us, fellowship of the just among us, a good reputation, self confidence or image is greater, and we are closer to rebirth in a better life. It is the intent with which it is done that counts, not the action. It is the thought and action of getting the gift, the act of giving the gift, and the memory of the giving of the gift, that will bless us.