The Sword of Wisdom 151

The merit this poem speaks of is spiritual merit, devoid of attachment. If your mind moves ─ if you attach to your actions ─ then no spiritual merit is gained. Emperor Wu did not accumulate the spiritual merit Yung-chia describes because his actions were self-motivated. His merit was characterized by outflows. By outflows I mean action, thought or speech that is still governed by attachment. The merit in this stanza is without outflows. It is pure merit ─ merit that derives from liberation and absolute wisdom.

Dharma wealth is sometimes explained in terms of five types of merit. The five types of merit are precepts, samadhi, wisdom (also known as root or fundamental wisdom), liberation, and wisdom that comes from liberation (also known as acquired wisdom). Root wisdom manifests when one sees into one's self-nature, but it is not used to help sentient beings. Wisdom derived from liberation, or acquired wisdom, manifests after a person has been liberated, and it is used to help others.

Dharma wealth is not worldly wealth. Worldly wealth has form, and is governed by outflows, or attachment. It is also impermanent. The ancient city of Pompeii was buried in ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted. When it was excavated, the remains of the inhabitants were in very good condition. They found the body of a thirty year old woman. Obviously a member of the aristocracy, she was still wearing her jewelry, but it is not her wealth anymore. Her jewelry is probably sitting in a glass case in a museum. In fact, her body is probably in a museum.